Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Eating Disorder Saved My Life


I’ve come to the conclusion that even the so-called non-eating-disordered population has disordered eating. Then again, it’s really hard to tell because so much of the population is in denial about the fact that, yes, they have an eating disorder.

Which got me thinking...for me, personally, the only way I’ve found out that we live in a disordered society is to almost kill myself and then make the decision to recover. Which sort of gives me little hope for the majority of the population. Not only is the remission rate for eating disorders very low, but...they are contagious. Disordered eating is contagious; the proliferation of the diet industry is proof of that. Yes, there is a genetic component, but something must trigger the disorder, and getting through life in today’s society without meeting a trigger is virtually impossible.

The alarming part is that it’s only getting worse. It scares me that the majority of people will never experience this, will continue advocating dieting during pregnancy, dieting during childhood, dieting until and to death. Did it occur to no one (besides the researchers who looked at children born during the Dutch Hunger Winter) that calorie restriction during pregnancy produces a child prone to hoard every last calorie in preparation for starvation? And that hammering that child’s metabolism into the ground as soon as it enters grade school is not going to fix the problem?

In a way, I am so glad I have this eating disorder. If not, I would probably been deluded by mainstream society’s fear of fats and carbs and salt and meat and fast food and cheese and milk and butter and oil and probably next fruits and vegetables. I would think skipping breakfast was normal (notice normal, rather than the norm--because it almost could be a norm). I would not let myself eat chocolate or sugar and then wonder why I lost control at a birthday party, or wonder why I was so strict with my intake and yet still gaining weight.

But in a way it is so hard. So hard to watch people not eat breakfast, eat an apple for dinner. It is so hard to feel like I’m forcing food on people. So many in recovery have trouble eating more than others. Well, I do too, but for me it’s different. I feel so sad watching them eat less and not knowing that they could have so much more out of life.

Food is not the enemy, but the diet industry does not make its money by saying that. We are listening to people who make their living by getting us to lose and regain the same 10 or 20 or 30 pounds over and over again.

A lifetime of restriction is not worth it. Especially not a lifetime shortened because of restriction. I just wish it didn’t take a near-death experience for so many people to realize that.
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