I will never be able to diet freely. I have given up that right. A diet will always be lethal to me. It will always be something that will likely spiral into full blown restriction. They say it takes a certain amount of days to create a new habit. For me, one day can make a difference. What happens today will mimic tomorrow. The slightest decrease or increase can spark a change in my eating habits.
I will never be able to exercise again, without first making sure I am in the right mindset. Without checking in and overthinking, wondering if I am pushing myself too hard, or eating enough to sustain activity. My mental health is very closely connected to my physical well being.
Keep these things in mind as you read the rest of this post. I realize some treatments will work well for one person, and for another the response may not be so great. If I had never gone through so many years of restriction and avoiding food, I probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to the troubling articles I read a few weeks ago.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, some doctors have decided to test low-calorie diets on patients with certain diseases. A group eating 300-400 calories a day for a week, and then following a strict diet thereafter may have shown some promise. In their physical being, yes. But what about their mental state? Research keeps surfacing, showing how the brain reacts to calorie restriction. Unfortunately, the article I read about this new potential treatment only mentions how calorie restriction can affect certain diseases and conditions, not how it may affect the brain.
I know that this study may seem trivial to some. It stood out to me because it is something that looks all too much like a fad diet gone wrong, like something that could easily lead to severe restriction and strict habits. The all or nothing mentality is something I have either been blessed or cursed with. I’ve had a section of newspaper in my backpack for a week, one that contains an article about this disease fighting method.
I am concerned because we as a society often see the food we eat as poison. So many cultures and holistic doctors swear by eating right, and how it leads to healing. And here we are, looking to starve our sick to banish asthma or MS, when perhaps eating more of the healing, natural foods would be just as beneficial. I am concerned because eating disorders are on the rise, and treatment is still not prevalent for many. I am concerned, because if environment, or genetics, or family history is not taken into consideration, are we setting ourselves up for just one more way to enter into the belief that with food and weight, less is better?
Another article in the Wall Street Journal expounded on a device that is designed to assist the obese with either losing, or managing their weight. This machine, has been referred to as “an automatic bulimia machine” and “medical bulimia” (Slate.com). The idea behind this device is that a person can eat what they like, and then mosey into the restroom where they can then empty a portion of what they just consumed, into a toilet via a tube that is connected to a hole in their stomach.
It is arguable that an eating disorder isn’t that simple. Of course there is more to it. But again, we must think of the mindset. If I know that I can eat all I want, and then run to the toilet and toss some of it, I am getting into the habit of eating anything I want, and knowing some of the calories passing my lips will be negated. My mindset will surely change. It has to. Just as my mindset is likely to change if I am put on a calorie restrictive diet; I am likely to feel deprived at such a low caloric intake…as would most people.
Sometimes it takes an experience that is brutal to make one passionate about something. I hear people talking every day about how food is “good” or “bad”. How they have been “good” or “bad”. Heads are being filled with conflicting information constantly. I see negative and positive. A woman who now requests 1/2 and 1/2 in her latte, when she used to get skim and sugar free syrup. That’s amazing to me. I aspire to be like her; to consume what tastes good to me. To go against the flow. Research. Ask questions. Listen to yourself and your intuition. Perhaps choose foods that have good nutritional content and are going to benefit you.
I have seen the dark side. I know how easy it is to unknowingly self destruct. I gave up my freedom of choice. And I cringe when I hear about the new tricks to maximize your foods taste with as few calories as possible. But the thing is, I still fall for these tricks. It takes constant work and monitoring of my thoughts to make positive change. Make your own decisions. Don’t let your food make decisions for you.