National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Do I? Am I?

Eating disorders are seemingly easy to talk about…when they’re not affecting you or someone that you love. Tabloids may make speculation about one’s eating and exercise habits seem commonplace, and chide while simultaneously glorifying scary-skinny celebrities, but when it comes to reality, it’s important to know what’s healthy and what’s not. It’s easy to judge others. But for a minute, for our health, let’s turn the judgmental eye inward.

Ladies, in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it’s time to ask ourselves, “Do I?” and “Am I?” It’s about looking at our own lives, and figuring out what’s healthy and what’s not.

So, ask yourselves “Do I…”

“Weigh myself every day?”

You are not a number! Letting numbers on a scale determine how you feel about yourself is dumb, but also lets your weight control you. The scale doesn’t know you. It doesn’t see what an amazing athlete you are, what great hair you have, how cute your butt looks in booty shorts, or how much your boyfriend drools over your smile (and boobs). The scale is a number. Which means it’s akin to math and science (EWWW). The scale doesn’t say anything about who you are on the inside. They weigh you when you’re at the doctor’s office anyway, so let your doctor tell you if you’re at a healthy weight or not.

“Skip meals?

Soooo many things wrong with this one! For one thing, skipping meals SLOWS down your metabolism. It will also just make you more hungry later! Your BRAIN needs fuel every 2 to 4 hours throughout the day to stay alive! (at night your body takes care of this, so that you can sleep). Skipping meals also makes you fatigued, and makes paying attention in lecture even harder than normal. Oh and here’s a fun fact: 95% of dieters regain their lost weight in one to five years! Eating when you are hungry, choosing nutritious and balanced options, having your favorite treats sometimes, and exercising because it feels good and is good for you, are the ONLY ways to stay at a healthy weight for your body, naturally.

“Count calories or fat grams every day?”

There was a time in my life when I was counting calories. Do you know how hard it is to figure out how many calories are in 4 red cups of beer, 2 jungle juices and 3 half shots? PLUS chaser? Yeah, waste of time AND energy AND an unhealthy state of mind to be in (the calorie counting, and the hangover). Yes, it is wise to check the nutrition labels on what food you’re eating when possible. Serving size is super important to be aware of, as is the amount of fat, sugar, and vitamins that you’re getting from your food choices. But when this become a problem is when you feel nervous or anxious about eating something until you know exactly how many calories or fat grams it contains. It’s feeling antsy until you can count how many calories you had that day. These habits may be moving you closer to a destructive and dangerous eating disorder!

Our bodies need ENERGY to function! Oh and fat? Fat isn’t bad! Our bodies need approximately 20-30% of your calories from fat every day! When possible, try to make your fats healthy fats, like monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and almonds.

“Exercise because I feel like I have to?”

There’s a difference between dragging yourself to the gym because you know it’s good for your body, and dragging yourself to the gym because you feel a nervous compulsion to work out. Working out is great for your body and mind!! In the immortal words of Elle Woods, “Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” But when your reason for exercising crosses over from knowing that its good for you to feeling like the world will end if you don’t, then we have a problem. When you start skipping spending time with friends, or are always on your way to or from the gym, or feel like your compulsion to exercise is taking over your life, there may be a problem.

“Am I on my way to an eating disorder?”

If any of these above statements sounded like you, please seek help! Eating disorders are SERIOUS mental disorders that can take over your life and health. Think of all the extra time you’d have, and how much happier you’d be, if you weren’t constantly obsessing over every morsel of food that you put in your mouth, or when your next workout is going to be, or how many calories you burned on the elliptical. College can be one of the most fun and enlightening times in our lives – don’t ruin it by isolating yourself with your unhealthy habits. Have fun, be healthy, live life!

Even if none of the above statements apply to you, think about what you can do each day to improve your own, and your friends’, body images. Challenge the diet industry and media. Say no to discussions about weight, shape, or diets!

And remember, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

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