nutrition · running

a little on social media and disordered eating

recently I wrote this op ed for the Equinox web magazine Furthermore.

it’s called “just eat the pizza” and the title alone encompasses some of what my nutrition philosophy continues to evolve to these days. And that’s not to say I think people should eat pizza all day, every day – though it is delicious – but to try and avoid putting foods like pizza into certain categories (“bad” or “good”) or to always be striving to eat only things that are deemed “clean”, superlatively healthy, or whatever your definition of “perfect” eating is. Goals like this can come from the best of intentions – to feel better, perform better, etc. – but can so often traverse into more of a restrictive eating pattern, fuel a very destructive diet mentality and lead to disordered eating.

super delicious “earth mother” pizza from two boots with broccoli, spinach, mushroom,Β jalapeΓ±o, tomato and REAL cheese

even though I like the social medias like Instagram as much as the next person, I think it can absolutely fuel disordered and restrictive eating patterns and almost normalize them to a really vulnerable population. The problem stems from what makes Instagram and other social and digital media platforms what they are – pretty much anyone can say anything, especially when it comes to food and nutrition because most people have an opinion. Distinguishing between opinions and evidence-based facts gets so muddled and for the most part, doesn’t seem to matter so much. And if you take pretty pictures of your meals highlighting what they are “free” in, like grains, dairy, gluten, sugar, etc., these must be “bad” for whatever reason and you must know what you’re talking about when it comes to health, right?

but no!

something I saw recently that has been promoted by a heavily followed young RD (this is so disappointing), celebrity “nutritionist” and a popular health website is a week-long “sugar detox,” to help show people the “dangers” of added sugars in certain foods. Huh? It’s never necessary to do a “sugar detox” to become aware of added sugars in foods – especially to the people who are following these folks and reading the website in the first place. They probably already know! This is fear mongering, and another way to normalize restrictive eating patterns and diet mentality under the guise of something that sounds positive and “healthy.”

Let’s be real here – the added sugar in ketchup is not going to hurt you. But stressing about things like that absolutely can.

nutella and banana crepe. with added sugars. and also palm oil. unless you’re eating it all day, every day, it’s fine. really.

that’s just one example of the crazy things I’ve seen recently on social and digital media, and they just keep coming! I don’t follow a whole lot of these accounts, and I’m kind of torn when it comes to unfollowing them all, or checking in to see what’s happening every now and then because I’m bound to get questions from patients and clients about this stuff and it helps to be aware. Does anyone else feel me here?

if I could shout one thing from the rooftops (or the social medias, heh), it’s that you don’t have to eat super “clean”, restrict food groups, and police every bite that goes into your mouth to feel good in your body, perform well athletically and live a long, happy life. You just don’t. And if you obsess over that stuff day in and day out, you’re missing out on a lot of actual living. Because in a world where there are no “good” or “bad” foods, eating can’t be perfect or imperfect, it’s just there to enjoy. And when that happens, there’s so much more space to have fun and explore the things that will make you a truly happy, healthy person.

so interested in hearing thoughts on this, if you’re still out there πŸ™‚

 

 

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14 thoughts on “a little on social media and disordered eating

  1. I left instagram for several reasons–one of which was I couldn’t take the weight of everyone’s opinion, especially about eating/health stuff. I do generally follow a certain “diet” or manner of eating cause I like to feel a certain way and be able to maintain a certain level of fitness. I play around with it quite a bit (my mom is a holistic nutritionist so she helps me) but I will never adhere to anything 100%, life is too short and food is too delicious. I think food is just so much a part of the experience of life, it is a shame that people miss it (I missed it with disordered eating for about 12-13 years of my life). Anyways, your post def resonated with me, thanks!

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  2. Totally! I always tell people, “there’s sugar in a carrot; do you think people got diabetes from eating too many carrots?” Not that anyone asks my opinion on food, but if they did!

    It PAINS me to see “celebrity” doctors, RDs, “health coaches” (a made up term, I think), and in general celebrities touting health claims that have no science. Lo Bosworth and curing her anxiety with…vitamins. Vaginal steaming (wtf?). Breech home birth. Activated charcoal (its called your liver and kidneys). Alkaline foods (bad news – the pH of your stomach is about 2 and then it gets neutralized by pancreatic juice so…).

    I’ll stop there πŸ™‚

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    1. it pains me too! don’t get me started on gwenyth/goop nonsense also. I have the alkaline diet conversation (and why it should not be a thing) often. I’m sure we could both go on… but at least we can help with the myth-busting, right? good luck to you in LA!

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  3. Totally agree- I unfollowed many, many people. Even some RD’s who I felt encouraged restrictive eating. That is why I enjoy your blog so much and I am happy you are back to writing. I would also love to hear about living in NYC on your blog. What sort of fun, social activities are there for active people? I’m living in NJ now but itching for a life change, maybe a move.

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    1. aw, thanks Erin! haha, I should probably DO more fun social activities for active people. so hard to fit that stuff in (for me) sometimes, but there are so many fun things happening all the time.

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