Recovery in a Diet Culture

In case you missed the memo, we live in a weight-obsessed, diet-obsessed culture. Shocking information, I know. So what do those of us trying to recover from an eating disorder do when every message around us is telling us we probably need to be restricting our food somehow or exercising our bodies a certain way? It can be a real challenge, as I’m sure many have already experienced. Because we can’t wholly remove ourselves from the culture in which we live, I have found self-talk incredibly helpful when I hear triggering information.

At work today, for example, my coworker was talking about her new Fit Bit. She was explaining that she loves it because, when she is looking over her day’s calories, it tells her whether she can have dessert or not. I have to be honest. My first reaction to her sharing this information was jealousy. I strangely longed for the days when it was so simple. Add up the numbers. Follow the rules. Play the game. The problem is, that game is impossible to win. The game ends in deprivation, shame, self-doubt and, at its worst, starvation.

I know from experience how that game ends for me. It ends with me being weighed in a doctor’s office, wearing leggings and leg warmers despite the warm September weather. It ends with me being told that I need to move home for my recovery. It ends with me seeing in his eyes that the doctor is serious when he says that inpatient treatment could be in my future.

I’m reminded of of those Choose Your Own Adventure books that everybody was obsessed with when I was growing up. Side note: Is it just me or are those totally a rip off because you only end up with something like 1/4 of a book? Nearly two years ago, I chose dieting. I chose exercising beyond my limits. I thought it was the right choice. Everybody around me told me that it was the right choice, but the end of that adventure is pretty fucking bleak. The beauty of life’s fluidity is that I get to choose another route now, and I won’t let anything lead me down the one I’ve already tried. If my coworker finds happiness tracking her calories, then I am glad for her. But I know that’s not how I want my adventure to end.

And not counting calories or tallying anything up to decide whether I deserve to eat leads to delightful afternoon snacks such as this one: an incredible combination of a local caramel and a piece of dark chocolate. I ate it because I was hungry for a snack. I ate it because it was delicious. I ate it without knowing how many calories I had eaten all day, and it was damn good.

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2 thoughts on “Recovery in a Diet Culture

  1. I myself am in recovery and know how difficult it is to recover around a culture that is sooo obsessed with losing weight! We know that in order for us to recover we have to focus on our own goals and it seems you have a great attitude towards this! 🙂
    Great blog by the way! Im just starting out!
    http://wp.me/p4SBrN-f

    • Thanks for the feedback! It’s something we’ll have to be aware of forever in this society, but we can stay strong if we are aware, I believe. Keep fighting the good fight!

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