Eating disorders are thieves. I’ve mentioned before a variety of things the eating disorder takes from the individual, such as friends, family, personality, confidence, appearance, health etc etc, but the one thing that I have been mulling over today is the thievery of choices.
The eating disorder doesn’t allow you such freedoms as choosing your own food, whether or not you go to a party, wearing clothes that aren’t baggy and hide every inch of your body, having relationships, being confident to speak to people, deciding how much yoghurt you can have for breakfast. You think about food all day. Adding calories, writing down what you’ve eaten in a little journal that you carry everywhere and the constant leg jiggling to keep moving and burning off the little that you’ve consumed that day. The eating disordered life is riddled with compulsive acts – you don’t think about measuring your food, you just do. It has become the norm.
Freedom lies in challenging these behaviours. Now I have the choice to say: “No, I will keep that meal in my stomach and let my body use it for energy”, “I will not go for an extra long walk because I feel guilty about what I have eaten today”,”Yes I’m scared to let people see my arms when I haven’t worn a sleeveless top or dress for years – but I’m going to do it anyway.”
We create all these rules for ourselves, don’t we? That if we do this or do that, then we’re somehow better because of it. Or we make these rules and we follow them because they’re comfortable. It’s so skewed. We live in this society where we are free to do what we want and be who we want and wear what we want and eat what we please – but then we create this little box for ourselves and hibernate.
Here’s a little fun activity for your cloudy Sunday afternoon: grab a piece of paper and a pen and write a list of all the rules you have created for yourself over the years. Draw a big cross through them. On a fresh piece of paper, write a list of all the things that make you smile and are really worthwhile – things you truly value. It might look a little something like this:
Don’t let your life be dictated by ‘should’s’ and ‘have-to’s’. There are more valuable things to focus on.