CW: Eating disorders and disordered eating
Okay, not really. We should keep eating our veggies. But there is still truth to this title.
As a young woman growing up in the age of social media, I know I’m not alone in saying my perception of health, fitness and well-being has been warped by the internet — and not for the better.
There’s this initiative to promote health in a very monoculture way: Wake up early, drink your green smoothie, hit the gym and spend the rest of your day eating only what social media deems “healthy.” But this idea of healthy culture is entirely unhealthy, and could even be more destructive than it is helpful.
Most people I talk to, regardless of age, gender or race, are able to relate when I share my previous struggles with anorexia. While no one knows entirely where our beliefs of ourselves and food stem from, I do largely blame social media for its influence on my twisted perception of health.
Health is not defined in a uniform manner. It does not look, eat or move in a certain way. Instead, health comprises mental, physical and emotional well-being. I know that when I approach food with an open mind, reaching inward and asking what my body needs rather than what diet culture is telling me what I need, I feel satisfied not only physically, but mentally as well.
“Intuitive eating” means not engaging in intermittent fasting, restricting yourself from eating or depriving yourself of something your body is asking for. All of those habits that force your body to survive in a certain way disconnect you from yourself. They create a barrier between the mental and the physical.
Some days, health for me is waking up early for a kickboxing class and then eating an omelet. Other days, health looks like sleeping in to a cozy pancake breakfast before a gentle yoga class. What’s great is that neither way is better or more healthy than the other. The only way it could be unhealthy is if I denied my body what it needed at that moment.
There was a time when rigidity and structure dictated my day in a way that was so out of alignment with what my body needed, that despite all the nutritious foods I ate and workout classes I went to, I had never been more unhealthy.
In tandem with redefining my relationship with food, I’ve also redefined my relationship with social media. I’ve unfollowed all accounts that I saw as exacerbating unhelpful thoughts about myself and instead followed those that promote body positivity and intuitive movement and eating.
This change also means not putting too much concern into what I post on my own account. Reconnecting with my body helped me not take social media so seriously. Social media is not a tool to make me feel bad about myself; it’s a tool I use to have fun. It’s there for me to be silly when I want to, for me to share kind messages or connect with friends. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with social media, I’ve grown mindful of how I’m using it and what role it’s playing in my life. Anytime it starts to get too serious or I find myself not enjoying myself, I close the app and disconnect.
Just as this article isn’t saying to stop eating vegetables, it’s also not saying to eat sweets for every meal. Really, I’m saying there are no food rules. Food is so much more than its caloric value — it’s about listening to your body and honoring its needs. It’s about culture, connecting with community, a form of self-care and a way to celebrate life.