Call me crazy (I promise not to hold it against you), but lately I’ve been noticing more and more suspicion and criticism being directed at those who try to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s understandable, given the staggering number of disordered habits that cleverly disguise themselves as healthy ones, but at the same time it’s kind of freaking annoying… especially when it makes you feel like you have to go well out of your way to be unhealthy just to prove that you are, in fact, healthy.
Plain Greek yogurt – banana – nectarine – applesauce – Kashi Cinnamon Harvest – roasted almond butter.
Given my past issues with food, I really can’t blame people for sometimes questioning my healthy(ish) eating habits… which is pretty much the only reason why I hold my tongue and smile instead of ripping my hair out and screaming for them to get of my case. It’s frustrating, though, and that frustration builds up to a point where I’d honestly consider stuffing myself with candy, chips, and fast food until I’m sick just to prove that I’m…err… not sick.
Since when did mental health and a desire for physical health become two mutually exclusive concepts? Because it seems like these days you can’t have both – if you try to be physically healthy, then it must mean that you’re mentally ill. No one questions you if you order a cheeseburger and fries, but get a grilled chicken salad and it’s all: “WHOA!! RED FLAG!! DISORDER/DIET ALERT!!” And don’t even think about passing on dessert – that kind of thing will get you labelled faster than you can eat a bowl of banana soft serve…
But what if you really, honestly, legitimately just do want a bowl banana soft serve? Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely adore ice cream – but sometimes I just crave bananas, and in that one moment banana soft serve sounds more appealing than anything else. And yes, I know that calling it soft serve is misleading, but come on… having to type out or say “frozen bananas blended up into a creamy consistency” is just plain goofy and awkward.
I enjoy eating healthy; I really do – I crave the foods I eat, and I eat the foods I crave. But sometimes I honestly feel like I’m not supposed to eat healthy because doing so automatically seems to lump me into the category of the “recovered” anorexic who still can’t let go of an obsession with clean eating. I’ll admit that the nutritional knowledge I picked up during my years of struggle makes me a lot less eager to try and survive on KD and candy like I did before I got sick, but not wanting to eat chemically-laden foods because of the potential negative effects they’ll have on my body isn’t really the same as being afraid to eat them. A true desire to be healthy by choosing to feed my body with wholesome foods is a lot different from a disordered desire to be “healthy.”
They may be “healthier” alternatives, but Popchips still taste pretty darned good to me…
Maybe it’s all in my head, but I do feel the judgment sometimes; and I think the people who are the quickest to judge are those who struggle with those kinds of issues themselves. I remember when I was sick, I’d look at people eating healthy foods or exercising on a daily basis and automatically assume that there were disordered thoughts at the core of their actions. I couldn’t understand how someone could genuinely enjoy eating healthy and working out when all I seemed to crave was junk food and my time in the gym was more or less a torture session.
But lo and behold, the further I came in recovery, the more I began to understand. When I made treats a regular part of my diet, I realized that people choose to eat healthy foods the majority of the time because it makes them feel good and the occasional treat is enough to satisfy. When I took a break from exercise and allowed my body to grow stronger and heal, I realized that people enjoy exercise because they have the energy and strength to do so. Yes, many take both of these facets of healthy living to the extreme, and thus verge into unhealthy territory, but I think that making mistakes like that is kind of unavoidable when you’re trying to figure out what healthy means to you; and that learning from them is what allows you to go on and develop a truly healthy mindset… because believe it or not, it really does exist.
. – . – . – .
Have you ever felt judged because of your healthy habits?
When do you think healthy crosses into the realm of disordered?
Alex @ Kenzie Life
Great post, Amanda! For me, healthy crosses into disordered when I become obsessive and when I’m dealing with emotional issues via my food. If I want the kale, I eat the kale. If I want a brownie, I’ll eat the damn brownie. But if I want the brownie and I eat the kale because I’m upset about something going on in my life, that’s when I know there’s something I need to take a look at. At least now I’m aware of this process, whereas 3 years ago I didn’t have the self-awareness and ability to regulate my emotions the way I do now.
What a great blog post! I forget the saying but something about hitting in right on the ______? LOL either way I can completely relate to this post. Why can’t I just order something healthy without judgment? Why does it always have to come down to being on a diet? or eating like a rabbit..? I do feel the pressure to eat certain foods I wouldn’t just to prove a point. Ah. nice to know I am not the only one who has noticed this trend eating with others or while others are observing me eating. Sticky little situations. I have decided to just stay true to how I want to eat and let people believe or make fun of me however they want.
Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
“Have you ever felt judged because of your healthy habits?” <- ALL THE TIME! Actually, that is one of the best things about being on the night shift now…I don't have to deal with the looks/remarks from my co-workers on what I chose (or chose NOT) to eat for lunch. And I swear if I had a nickel for every time someone found out that I eat "healthy" and then asked if I'm a vegetarian! What? You can't eat clean AND eat meat? I call BS!
But seriously, lunchtime used to stress me out all the time. I'm sorry that I don't chose to stuff my face with a cheeseburger and french fries and wash it all down with a big cup of soda! Can you believe there was this one guy who used to ALWAYS comment on the size of my salads?! He'd be like, "You're going to eat ALL that?" I got so fed up once that I just lost it and told him and EVEN with all the veggies/toppings that I had on my salad, it didn't even BEGIN to compare calorically to his salads which he DROWNED in bleu cheese dressing! Yep, that shut him up! Lol
But I honestly think that there is a really fine line between eating healthy and disordered eating/thinking. I think even people without an ED diagnosis can hover over that line…sometimes crossing it back and forth…and I think blogging can sometimes have a huge impact on the way people see food…and themselves.
I know I would pick banana softserve over ice cream even if they had the same nutrition info!:) Great post
I always struggle trying to decide if its better to eat clean and perhaps feel physically healthier or to just eat the pizza or burgers that everyone else is eating just because I want to be normal and often that second option results in me feeling a lot happier. Plus it’s more fun. I totally understand the pressure to show others that you’ve recovered but still wanting to eat in a way that makes you feel physically good, but I don’t think it’s realistic to do so all the time. Part of living life involves spontaneous dinner invites to chain restaurants or Dairy Queen. I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh or insulting because that’s not my intention.
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
It wasn’t harsh at all, and you’re definitely right. Being spontaneous and eating funner foods with family and friends always leaves me feeling a lot happier. Life’s too short to eat 100% clean, right? 😉
Irina @ Chocolatea Time
I’m so glad that someone finally brought this up because it’s been looming on my mind for a while already and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one! The amount of judgement bloggers receive for what they eat is excessive and absurd. I don’t post everything that I eat, but when I do post photos of my meals I always find myself wondering what it will appear like to an outside viewer. For example, I LOVE the Arctic Zero Cookies n’ Cream flavor (not the other flavors though) and always eat it. However, when I post a photo of it I worry that someone will think I’m purposely avoiding “real” ice cream or something (which most definitely is not the case because ice cream = love). It’s a ridiculous feeling but something that many of us experience.
Ultimately, it’s a lose-lose situation and it’s unavoidable. Just keep moving forward!
Amanda @ .running with spoons.
I can definitely relate! Sometimes I crave a good rice cake but I’m afraid to eat one because it’s “diet” food. Ha! Ridiculous. Going from being afraid of real food to being afraid of diet food.
I decided to give up meat for good after not eating it for the duration of Lent earlier this year. For me, it was something I’ve been wanting to try for years. And I don’t miss it. I’ve become much more creatively healthy with my meals and conscious of what I put in to my body (esp since I was training for a half-marathon). However, my family still refers to it as “Not eating meat,” whereas I “Don’t eat meat.” Big difference there, I think. When I first had to start telling friends and family I no longer ate meat (bc we’d be out or at a gathering, etc.), there was a distinct pressure I felt to explain this lifestyle choice. Their first reaction, slightly mixed with horror, was “WHY?” It’s yet another form of judgement with no basis whatsoever. I still feel like people think I’m a bit crazy. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. Let them judge. I’ve been able to transform my body into this strong, lean machine with a kick-ass physique. And I know I look and feel good.
Julianna @ Julianna Bananna
i loved reading this post – it’s like people judge you if you eat healthy all of the time, but then when you DO go and eat unhealthy food, they’re like wait i thought she was healthy? if that made any sense.. haha. you can’t win in this situation. 🙁