"I Ate So Unhealthy" and Other Bullsh*t You Should Stop Saying
“You look so skinny!”
Uh yeah, because I had barely been eating, and those "compliments" only made me continue.
Many of us have had conversations surrounding body image and what we eat. Others comment on our bodies, or their own, and we reciprocate, taking a strange pleasure in doing so. Though they can be innocent, people don’t realize that these seemingly normal conversations can be very damaging to some people. I’ve listened in on (and used to participate in) casual conversations about bodies. The people around me would talk about how skinny someone got, the new diet they’re trying out, which food they were cutting out...you get the picture. It’s gotten so normal to talk about what we’re eating and our resentment of the bodies we are currently in. More often than not, it’s a negative thing we’re pointing to. To someone like me, who struggled with body image and disordered eating, conversations like these fueled my motivation to keep restricting. Negative body talk honestly needs to go. If you’re unfamiliar of what some toxic conversation starters tend to be, here are my top three.
“I ate so unhealthy this weekend.”
Ugh. This one drives me nuts. On weekends, we tend to have less of a routine in place. We also tend to have more yummy food options. Do not beat yourself up about that! We’ve got more time for delicious snacks, socializing with friends over big bowls of pasta or nachos, and having a few glasses of wine to top it all off. This is the time that our bodies are able to relax and unwind, and that is a wonderful thing. By deeming food we eat as “unhealthy” what we're really saying is that we ate something we think will make us gain weight. Have you ever thought that you might be disrespecting your body by shaming it for wanting that big bowl of pasta and loving it? If not, think about it. The terms “healthy” and “unhealthy” are a very broad generalization when everyone’s ideas of them are different. Plus, let’s face it. More often than not, the word “healthy” is a cover term for eating in a way that will make you lose weight. Because of that, those two words actually don’t make it into my vocabulary that often, since I don’t feel the need to label my food as such. From now on, let’s change “I ate so unhealthy this weekend” to “I had the most delicious, big ass bowl of pasta!” While we’re at it, let’s also look at why we feel the need to distinguish our food between two different, non-descriptive words the way we often do.
“Look! I’m gaining/losing weight!”
My first (internal) reaction to someone saying this is “WHY IS THIS RELEVANT INFORMATION?!” Seriously, though. The person you’re speaking to probably doesn’t feel the need to know this fact. Furthermore, by talking about your weight, whether you think it’s a positive or negative thing, it can have an effect on others. Before I was able to disconnect from the charge of these conversations, I would often think things such as, “I should probably weigh myself to see where I’m at” or “Wow, she is so much skinnier than me. I need to do something to be as small as she is.” It’s difficult to swallow the idea that our words truly have an impact on others, but they do. Even if you don’t have an eating disorder, it’s pretty inappropriate to be speaking about your weight gain or loss. I see other women bonding over conversations that start out like this, and it’s a little messed up. We could be talking about how we just slayed a new project, our future aspirations, how we’re setting some great goals for ourselves. The possibilities are endless. If you feel the need to start conversations like this, really think about the reason behind why you want to let someone know you're losing or gaining weight.
“Starting January 1st, I’m completely revamping my diet.”
For starters, diets don’t work. If you need proof, listen to the Food Psych Podcast by Christy Harrison. She will tell you ALL about it. Second of all, this type of thing is contributing to the idea that the way you’re eating is “wrong” and you need to spend extra money to change that. Let me tell you right now, nothing is wrong with your body. You were given it for a reason, and genetics aren’t going to allow you to change it too much. Plus, where’s the fun in partaking in diets that usually make you pretty cranky? Without the proper nutrients in our systems, our bodies don’t function very well. For instance, I can never take out pasta from my diet. Anyone who knew me as a baby will tell you that I would get DOWN on some plain pasta. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I can’t get from any other foods, namely, quinoa. Do I eat both? Absolutely. But just because one is deemed “better for you” by society than another, doesn’t mean you should be cutting it out. In fact, most registered dietitians recommend a healthy balance of all foods, unless of course you’re allergic. Eat what you want to eat, listen to your body for what it wants, and your body will figure out the rest.
My point is...
Next time you’re talking with friends or coworkers, try to find a topic that has nothing to do with yours or their bodies. It can be refreshing to hear about accomplishments, gratitude, and goals, if you need some starters! If you notice that you say things like this a lot, don’t feel disappointed in yourself! This is learned behavior that society taught us, and you can totally change your language. Let start contributing to healthier relationships with our bodies by cutting out the negative body talk. Until next time, loves!