when good intentions go bad.

It’s been a bit of a hectic afternoon here. I had a nap because I was really ridiculously exhausted, ate some easter eggs to boost the energy and decided to go for an afternoon stroll. I barely made it to the bottom of the driveway before some boys who were holidaying nearby came running up asking for help – an elderly lady who lives around the corner had fallen on the driveway and smashed open her head. So spent the next half hour holding her head, cleaning blood up and waiting for the ambulance to come. Needless to say, I didn’t go for a walk – and that was probably a good thing, I already went this morning.

So – as I was walking down the driveway to go on this afternoon stroll Y, the lady who I am currently house sitting for asked me if I was going for a walk. I told her I was and she replied with “good for you”. Which is also what she told me yesterday when I let her know I was going for a walk. SO it got me thinking – why do we praise people when they tell us things like how much they’ve been exercising lately, or about the new diet that they’re on? Does it not seem a little wrong? Because the eating disorder sufferer is going to use your words of encouragement as motivation for them to continue losing weight and remain in their eating disordered pattern. I think it makes a world of difference to say something along the lines of “enjoy your walk” than insinuating the person is somehow better because they’re heading off to do some exercising. We don’t need to be making people feel like they’re superior.

And let me be honest here, of all places please – I thought I was superior when I was anorexic. I had self-control, and other people didn’t. Let me just tell you now that having that sort of thinking and/or encouraging that sort of thinking is deadly dangerous, a load of crap and disgustingly wrong. I obviously was not superior. I was not better than other people simply because I was exerting self-control (over food, which is exerting self-control in the wrong manner). I think this just highlights how sick the person is, if this sort of thinking is occurring.

And man, don’t get me started on the ‘praising someone for their diet’ question. If someone is overweight and they choose to lose weight in a healthy manner and not be restrictive and don’t feel insanely guilty for eating a chocolate biscuit every night with their cup of tea and they feel good about themselves in the process of doing it, and they’re seeing a dietitian or doctor along the way and they’re flexible and patient with themselves – yeah, it IS good for them. Encouragement in that circumstance is often necessary. But don’t make out that exercising or eating healthily somehow makes them a better person – because it doesn’t.

And if you really think that it does, I suggest you reconsider the issue.

Sorry if this is a little harsh, but people make me mad sometimes. As you can see.

Drinking tea, eating a jam bikkie now. Life’s pretty good.

Love, Bek Xo.

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5 thoughts on “when good intentions go bad.

  1. I had a similar situation this week… I was chatting with a friend and telling her about trying to learn hunger & fullness cues. I mentioned that on one day I’d felt very hungry all morning, and listed what I’d eaten (for the purposes of illustrating “wow, I was hungry!”). She said, “I’m impressed with how healthy it all was, though. That’s really good.” Now, I know she was genuinely trying to be encouraging, particularly because she knows my struggles with binge eating. So I wondered whether to comment or just leave it… in the end I said, “Actually, I know you were trying to be encouraging there, but comments about my food choices – even positive ones – are really unhelpful for me. They make me think ‘the food is good, therefore *I* am good… therefore I need to keep being good by only eating ‘healthy’ things and not eating very much of them. At least until I crack, and binge – and then I will know I’m ‘bad’.” And to her credit, my friend said, “Thanks so much for letting me know that – it wouldn’t have even occurred to me at all.”

    • Good on you for speaking up! I’m not trying to condemn those who do this, just trying to be informative and let people know it’s actually really not a helpful thing. And I’m glad to hear she responded so well too!

      May I ask – re “listing your food” for your friend – was that a helpful thing, or perhaps an unhelpful thing? I think it’s a bit of an OCDish thing and in my experience it always made me panic about “how much I’d eaten”. In the long-term, is it what you want to be doing? X

      • It was actually a helpful thing. In the context of a lengthy conversation about hunger etc (I just gave you the shortened version in my comment) I’d been saying that I’m starting to realise I’ve been hungry for ages, but not allowing myself to feel it. Or feed it. So telling her what I’d eaten wasn’t about worrying I’d eaten too much or anything; it was more about saying, “Normally I would just eat THIS, but in fact what my body really wants and needs is THIS.” I was sharing my amazement that I’ve been living on a lot less than my body needs. In fact I was very happy, both to have done pretty well with hunger and fullness cues (which is still very hit and miss at the moment) and to have satisfied my hunger without stressing about it or counting calories.

      • ps… the food I ate was “healthy” just because I hadn’t been grocery shopping and the only food left in my house that day was fruit and crackers. It wasn’t “diet” food.

    • Okay, that’s good then. I think the thing with mindful, intentional eating is that because you become aware o what you’re eating and do it in accordance to your body’s hunger/fullness cues, and for some weird reason become less stressed about it all really. That’s what I have found anyway. Grazing really freaks me out, I lose track of everything. But this type of structure, and knowing that I’m eating when I feel hungry reassures me somehow.

      Well done you! So proud to here that you’re starting to latch on to what your body requires to function well X

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