During my commute to work, I usually don’t pay attention to conversations going on around me. Often, I’m listening to my ipod, or playing on my phone. Recently, I read a study that stated, people are becoming more disconnected and isolated due to technological developments, such as cell phones, ipods, computers, E books, etc. It stated that all of these things draw us into our own private worlds, and prevent us from communicating with each other, actually making us less aware of the world going on around us; thus numbing our ability to sympathize, empathize, or concern ourselves with our fellow human beings. After reading this, I decided to take out the headphones for one week, and told myself, the only time I would use them would be during workouts at the gym. In conducting my experiment, I became aware of a few things, but the one thing that really stuck out, in several conversations I overheard, was how preoccupied with food many women are. This lead me to do a bit of research on women in the United States, and their relationship with food. What I discovered is, it’s reported that, three out of four women in America suffer from some kind of eating disorder. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an eating disorder is defined as, “any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits,” or “an unhealthy relationship with food.”
Three out of four women… that’s 75%, so 75% of the female population in the Untied States, has some kind of eating disorder. I think this percentage is so high because most people, naively believe, if they are not starving themselves, or binging and purging, then they are OK, and their personal idiosyncrasies with food are no big deal. However, the definition clearly state, “any range… characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits,” is considered an eating disorder. Anorexia, and Bulimia are not the only two. Overeating, emotional/stress eating, always dieting, feeling guilty after eating certain foods, overeating and then exercising to compensate, fixating on “safe” or foods that are deemed OK to eat, excessive exercising, all of these traits are classified as eating disorders, because they are abnormal or disturbed eating habits that can and often do, create a psychological disorder.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for working out and eating healthy, but when the topic of many conversations you have with yourself and others revolves around a “cheat day,” cutting carbs, eating carbs you shouldn’t have eaten and feeling guilty, dieting – then you may want to take note of your relationship with food. Ask yourself what is the end goal? Is the goal that you are trying to reach, something you can maintain long-term, or will you constantly have to cut out major food groups to do it?
We, as a nation are obsessed with body image, and how we look. Being fit is the “in” thing and attaining the perfect shredded physique is a goal for many, but what is the overall cost? In doing research for this blog, one of the articles I read stated, six out of ten parents reported children requesting they not give them bread, potatoes, or fruit because they believed these foods were bad for them. This says to me that food disorders, many adults struggle with, are being passed down to the next generation. A healthy relationship with food, one that consists of a balanced diet full of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, essential vitamins and minerals, is what we should be teaching children, but that is hard to do, if you as the adult don’t understand the importance of, or practice it yourself. Children are often mirror images of their parents or the adults who play the biggest roles in their lives. They mimic what they see and hear, so if they begin having an unhealthy relationship with food, it will be harder to break as they become adults and will eventually be passed down to their children.
Women, if your end goal is to have the body you’ve always wanted, you will never be able to sustain it in an unhealthy relationship with food. Take the proper steps to change how you relate. Being honest with yourself about the unhealthy relationship is the first step. This is the hardest part because of denial and fear. Once you have admitted you have an issue, don’t be afraid to seek help via a psychiatrist, nutritionist, or both. They will be able to help you get to the root of where the issue began. You have to figure out how you got to this point to eradicate the problem. Seeking help from those who can teach you healthy eating habits and thought patterns is a necessity. Finally, get a healthy gym regiment going. One of the best ways to maintain a strong body and mind is through exercise, but the key is moderation. Together,healthy eating and exercise habits are the winning combination to a healthier you, both mentally and physically. How we relate to food is an indication as to how we relate to our bodies and overall well-being. A truly healthy relationship with food is key to becoming a truly healthy individual.