I know I am chiming in VERY late to this conversation, but this is the first chance I’ve had to get my thoughts in order since the huge outburst following Marie Claire’s article was published last week: “The Hunger Diaries: Are Health Writers Putting You At Risk?”
Where do I even begin? Well, lots and lots of people have commented on this issue. Including the “Big Six” themselves: Carrots & Cake, Healthy Tipping Point, (who started the amazing Operation Beautiful project), Meals and Miles, Cheeseburger in Paradise, I don’t want to be redundant. And yet there are several things I feel I need to respond to.
- Healthy-living bloggers (which I consider myself to be) are role models, and as such, bear a certain responsibility to their readers. Well, first of all, I have no idea who many of my readers are. Only a tiny percentage of my actual readers ever leave comments and so I don’t know who they are. I am not anywhere near the readership of “The Big Six,” some of whom have over 15,000 readers per day. (I wish! right?) I believe that my only responsibility is in telling what is true for me. That’s all I can do, really. I’m not here as an expert. I’m just living my life in the best way I can, with all its struggles and challenges, and whatever anybody else takes from it, I really cannot control.
- One person’s healthy tool is another person’s trigger. We all have our methods. It’s a highly personal, unique and often charged journey, isn’t it? When I began photographing my food, several people commented that it pushed their buttons. It was too much. But for me, it was a comfort. A daily practice, almost a meditative act. I noticed that it made me much more mindful. (I’ve slacked off the pictures lately, and really want to get back to it because I do think it was immensely helpful. For ME.) I was amazed that in some of the responses to the Marie Claire article, MANY people made comments that keeping a food journal was a “dangerous practice” that teetered on disordered eating. That really made my eyes pop because this is one of the main tools of Weight Watchers. Studies have shown that people who journal their food lose more weight. I suppose if you are anorexic and should not BE losing weight, this can be a dangerous thing. Which leads me to…
- There are eating disorders and then there are eating disorders. They run a huge spectrum, from anorexia/bulimia to compulsive and binge eating. What might be triggering and “dangerous” for anorexics might be just what a compulsive overeater NEEDS in order to be healthy. Take the practice of “food destroying,” which I was startled to see, ranks as a possible sign of “disordered eating” in some arenas. Wow. Because this is something that I sometimes do, most often in restaurants, when I am given a portion that is way too big for me, and I know that is going to tempt me if I’m sitting there looking at it. I’m satisfied, and I don’t want to eat any more. I might put a napkin over it (I reallllllllllly don’t see anything wrong with that) or sometimes will oversalt it or put something else on it that will make it unappetizing. Case in point: the other night I was out at a restaurant. Server brought us an extra dish of amazing mashed potatoes with butter gravy. How I do love mashed potatoes! I was already full. I had a bite. It was delicious. I could feel the inner Gollum revving up inside me (“My precious… potatoes! Buttttttterrrrrr!”) How easy it would have been for me to just inhale the ENTIRE giant mound, even though I was already done eating. Because I WANTED it. But another voice inside me DIDN’T want it. I dumped some icky sweet sauce from my fish onto the potatoes, and that put an end to it. Now. Was that “disordered eating?” Or was it a tactic that saved me from overeating? For my particular eating disorder, I think it was a healthy move. Others might disagree.
- If people with eating disorders wanted to find unhealthy advice out there, it certainly is there for the seeking. People who are prone to anorexia will find instruction manuals in how to do that. People who want to kill themselves, ditto. And people who want to eat themselves into oblivion will find plenty of support as well. Whatever you want to find out there, it’s there.
- Slanted journalism. I just think it was sensationalistic and wrong. That is all.
- Back to the Triggers thing. Personally, I am sometimes triggered by reading raw food/vegan blogs because that’s not a choice I want to make, and the sheer idea of it makes me want to go eat a giant bacon cheeseburger. It’s a trigger for me, because of who I am. But if I HAPPEN to read one of those blogs, and then HAPPEN to go on an eating binge, I am going to put on my big-girl panties and not BLAME IT on the bloggers themselves. I mean, come on, people.
I think that’s it for now. But I was amazed at so many things I read this week. Maybe it’s because I’m such a small-potatoes blogger. I am not in any Big Six. Maybe I’m in the Big Six Million. Just one voice in the blogosphere. I write for me because it helps keep me on a path I want to stay on. If it’s at all helpful to others, fantastic. If anything I do or say triggers or is unhelpful to anyone, please avert your eyes. It seems like it should be that simple.