An open letter to my beautiful friend about eating disorders

Replying to your brave post and since you asked, here is my inexperienced opinion about eating-disorders.

I should start with a little background, though. I used to eat carelessly a lot of crap with the mindset of “Salad is waste of space in my stomach, good thing I have an extra stomach just for sweets”. But then I broke my jaw and for eight weeks I had to eat through a straw. Beyond the fact that once you drink a chicken, you can drink anything, I not only lost 15kg in this experience but I also lost the sense of hunger. Even though I doubled all my meals (and then blended and sifted them), I was constantly hungry; always carrying this feeling of void in my stomach. Having my hair shaved, at the end of those eight weeks I can testify I looked like a holocaust survivor.

But then I realised that we, in the developed country, hardly ever eat because we’re hungry – we eat because it’s time; we eat because of social obligations; we eat because we’re bored and we eat because we’re all a little bit oral and would like something in our mouth to play with (small tip: I eat dates and keep the pit in my mouth for that reason). Food had lost its original meaning of survival-necessity and turned into leisure. What we eat, how and when is ingrained in our culture, along with the perpetual reminder to keep our weight in toe.

I personally believe that weight is not a good indicator as muscles are heavier than fat. Yes, much like everyone else, I would like to look in the mirror and like what I see – but skinny isn’t necessarily pretty. That’s just a crude reduction. “Fit” in our society is a better description for what we consider pretty, or even “curvy” for girls. I’m not saying we should all become addicted to sports as any kind of addiction isn’t healthy.

What is addiction anyhow? Addiction is something you cannot live without. it’s part of your identity. We are addicted to our family and friends, we’re addicted to the sun and we’re addicted to air. Addiction on its own isn’t bad, it only becomes bad when it actually hurts us or others.

Anorexia is bad, I’m not insinuating otherwise, but one thing should be said on behalf of those who suffer from it – they have an incredibly strong will-power. it’s stronger than those small temptations, and in the context of the highly praised marshmallow experiment it says a lot. Anorexia is a mental disease in the sense that it distorts reality and those who suffer from it cannot objectively perceive their own weight and appearance, but if you put that aside – you see what a strong character they have. And they should know that.

Like most problems, admitting of having a problem is a key-component for its solution. I was addicted to computer-games and chocolate and I’m still addicted to sugar and certain dairy products (in my failing attempts to go vegan), so I cannot give an educated or experienced opinion but my solution to my addictions was awareness and following that – moderation. I won’t play computer games and I wouldn’t bring home foods that I consider ״poisonous”, but would still eat them occasionally when going out on weekends. And during the week? I eat food, preferably vegetables, if not legumes, nuts or fruits.

Many people who are conscious for their weight eat “calories” instead of actual food. These people don’t live longer. It only feels like eternity. I would personally go by Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat Food; Not too much; Mostly plants”, which seems rather simple and straight-forward (and yet he wrote an entire book to explain this sentence).

We live in a crappy society in which people, especially girls, are being judged by their appearance and the most predominant theme is “be thin”. This is wrong in so many layers as it devalues and dehumanise women into superficial sex object women want men to desire. Yes, aesthetic is important and personally I do consider flabbiness to be a turn off but you wouldn’t believe how sexy would a genuine smile be, or confidence or stamina or simply positive approach to life.

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