Q: Balance – If we don’t take care of ourselves, we aren’t as able to [take care of] others. It’s about finding balance so that you avoid extremes in diet and exercise. I know that people have commented that they want to know what diet you finally found that works best, and it makes me wonder if they are looking for answers for themselves. That’s a pretty tough question to answer because nutrition isn’t that cut and dry, and there is still a lot that we don’t know. Everyone thinks that they are an expert, and you can find great arguments that support almost any diet. That’s why I think balance and moderation. I’m curious to learn where you are at with this.
Balance is a topic my friends tried to stress to me at one point this past year (something I will go into detail in my project – it was stressful, but eye-opening, and continues to turn up in my life as I come to more conclusions/realizations).
Being a perfectionist, dedicated, hard-working person who finds the ultimate “secret” to success (supposedly) caused me to be consumed with achieving success at the cost of my mental and physical health. I think it comes with having that natural drive, that certain personality – we perfectionists seem to want to go “all the way” with anything and everything. If a little bit is good, then a lot must be better, right? I think it comes with being a runner, too. You think, if I run this many miles, then ten more miles each week would make me even faster. While that can be true, we perfectionists think we can bump it up quickly: Because I have enough discipline. Because I have enough willpower. Because I can force myself to do it.
When my mom suggested I cut down my portion sizes, I figured I had to starve myself in order to lose weight, rather than eat a little less or choose healthier foods (which I didn’t really even need to do anyway; my weight was fine). It was such a small suggestion, perhaps insignificant to others. But to me it screamed, go all the way! The reaction I had toward the entire ordeal (she must think I’m fat, I have to cut back!) makes it clear how far I felt I had to go in order to keep a perfect weight, to not going out of control, to feel balanced with everything in my life even though it would actually turn out to make things even more unbalanced.
I took “eat two pieces of toast instead of five” into “starve yourself.”
And then with raw food: “eat as much as you want,” to binge.
Lose a little bit of weight to run faster, to lose as much weight as possible to run fastest.
Avoid too many desserts, to avoid desserts and special occasions with friends at almost all costs.
Focus on running and school, to feeling guilty if I spent any time away from that.
When I journeyed into raw food, everything I had learned about nutrition had gone extreme. Eat as much as you want. Eat as much fruit as you want. Only eat raw food for ultimate health. Eat little or no fat. It should be no surprise that 30bananasaday promoted how there is no such thing as “moderation.”
I learned from the best.
Finding the cure in all the wrong places
I felt that one diet would “cure me” of my eating disorder. Evident by my journey into 30bananasaday, I thought eating mostly fruit would cure my eating disorder, would get rid of the bingeing. Long after that failed, I spent hours reading through articles online or buying books from the library to find another “cure,” but it turned out that the only real cure was getting professional help through therapy and seeing a dietitian. It was only through their assistance that I finally found my sense of balance and moderation. They helped me to see past the numbers and macronutrients, and into the mind.
I didn’t realize what a powerful thing the mind was until I recently read on the Psychology of Eating–how we approach food mentally. I advise anyone who is still looking for that “miracle” cure that breaking away from any eating disorder does not end by finding the “miracle” diet, certain macronutrients, timing of meals, or the best weight loss pill to do so. It’s about finding balance again–with your mind and body, with your food.
I went from one extreme to another–restricting many foods (anorexia), to going all the way to eating any food (unfortunately, through binge eating), and now moving towards food that I believe is better for my body, while still eating treats and foods that may not be so healthy for the body (I say it’s healthy for the soul). I figure that if the cheat meals make me feel mentally happier (we’re still getting to that – I’m working on getting rid of the guilt, first), then I will be healthier than the person who eats the healthiest food in the world but feels sad or bored with the food they eat.