Are You Eating Lies Instead of Food?

Today Alice Liveing posted something very important on Instagram.

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-4-50-13-pm

If you’re not familiar with Alice, she’s a certified personal trainer and the author of The Body BibleShe also has an AMAZING Instagram account, which is how I initially discovered her about a year ago. Her feed is filled with photos of delicious meals and great workouts. She’s also one of my favorite Snapchatters. On her Snapchat, she shows yummy meals, shares BTS of events she attends, and also discusses her thoughts about various things relating to health or her daily life. You can tell she is one of the sweetest human beings on this planet, and watching her Snapchats makes me feel like I’m just hangin’ out with a friend. She is also one of the few influencers who truly promotes healthy eating habits, in my opinion.

ANYWAYS. Today Alice posted this to Instagram, and she also went on a Snapchat rant about it. I’ve never seen Alice upset before – she’s always smiles and sunshine. That really spoke to how much this frustrated her, and I appreciate that frustration.

I am so happy Alice posted this to Instagram, because it’s something I feel very passionately about. Let me clarify. I’m happy she posted it to Instagram, but pissed that it exists. This speaks to a much larger issue that I always want to talk about but never really know how to address. I talk about it with my close friends ALL THE TIME, but I always feel like I need to approach things more cautiously on the Internet. Unfortunately, that means sometimes it takes me way too long to write about it. I’m so mad that I’m saying SCREW TREADING LIGHTLY. I’m just gonna say what I think.

I believe that we have bred a generation of undereaters. People became so afraid of and obsessed with the obesity epidemic that it somehow went too far in the other direction, and things have officially gotten out of control. First of all, it’s absolutely disgusting and pathetic and sad that magazines, books, websites, and health professionals recommend such unhealthy habits to the general public. It INFURIATES me. When I saw Alice’s post, I had to leave the room because I knew I was about to go OFF. I didn’t want to scare the other person in the room with me.

This has been a problem for a long time, but I rarely see anyone addressing it. We read this information on a daily basis and gloss over it. We’re used to it. That’s just what the mags say, right? No, not okay. I’m not sure if people don’t say anything because they don’t know how dangerously incorrect the information is, or if they are aware but figure there’s no use making a fuss because that’s just the way it is. Well, I’m sick of it being the way it is.

Like Alice said, this is completely unacceptable. When I first became interested in health and wellness, I educated myself through the Internet, social media, and magazines. I was like a sponge – I excitedly soaked in all of the information that I was reading. I took the advice the Internet gave me as gospel, believing it was teaching me to be as healthy as possible. I followed their advice to a T. It led me into a horribly dangerous cycle of overexercising and undereating. After a few weeks of undereating, I quickly realized I couldn’t function all, so I gave up on it. I went back to eating much more, and eventually A LOT more when my stomach stopped digesting food and I started losing a frightening amount of weight.

When I switched over from accidentally starving myself to eating more food, I couldn’t help but constantly feel guilty about the amount of food I was eating. What magazines and social media were showing as “normal” portion sizes were less than half of my usual portions. I also felt guilty when I ate around my friends. People always make comments about the amount of food I eat. I would look at my plate and compare it to the plates around me, which were always much smaller. This played major mind games with me. I’d think, Shit, am I OVEReating now?!  I was so confused.

It took time, real education, and an intense personal health scare for me to learn to differentiate the bullshit from the truth. I read real science. I looked for real research. I learned from people who didn’t have alterior motives in the health industry – people who were truly knowledgeable about health and wellness. I also listened to my body. I realized that not only were Internet articles, magazines, social media, television, and many books perpetuating dangerous advice and health trends, but so were many of the doctors and other certified health professionals I saw. It horrified me then, and it horrifies me now.

This issue is prevalent in all of our lives. It’s everywhere. The one place it really irritates me is on Instagram. I know that many people try to copy meals or even lifestyles of the health accounts they follow. This isn’t always a good idea. There are many “health” accounts showcasing undereating and overexercising. I also get extremely annoyed when I go to my favorite wellness sites and see unhealthy habits being promoted by “experts.” This is why eating disorders and exercise addiction have become so common. Sadly, many people suffer from these problems without realizing it at all. Or they do realize something is wrong, but they can’t believe it’s true because they’re doing what “healthy” people do (according to the Internet).

Thankfully the fear of fats is slowly coming to an end, but the tiny portion sizes are still an issue. The chronic cardio and hours of exercise continue to be a problem. It scares me, but it’s such an immense problem that I don’t know how to even begin to tackle it. So I guess I’ll start with this, and I’m going to keep writing about it.

I get it. I get the head games. I eat a ton of food every day, and I’m loud and proud about it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still sometimes a voice in the back of my head that tells me I shouldn’t be eating so much. When I’m out to dinner and need to order 2 or even 3 entrees to feel full while everyone else is ordering one, that voice tells me I’m eating too much. It tells me I should be embarrassed. When I’m eating an extra meal at home or eating my dinner out of a serving bowl, that voice comes back again. When people make comments about how much I eat, the voice whispers. I have to talk myself out of it and remind myself of the truth. I listen to my body, especially my stomach. I look at the science, reread books backed by legitimate research, or go directly to the accounts of people who do promote healthy lifestyles.

When you decide what to eat and how much of it, why are you making the choices you do? Are you eating enough? How do you know? Are you copying a meal plan that you saw on the Internet? A nutrition guide that you downloaded? Are you following a “weight loss plan”? Are you following a “weight loss plan” when you don’t even need to lose weight?! Do you go to bed hungry? Do you portion your food according to what you see on social media? According to what your friends are eating?

Ask yourself those questions, and be honest. If this resonates with you at all, I beg you to share it. Like Alice’s Instagram post to call attention to this issue. SHARE THE MESSAGE. The media wants us to fill up on its lies instead of food. When you soak up those lies and follow that advice, you’ll still be unsatisfied, unhealthy, and in need of more help. You’ll run back to the media in hopes of finding a real solution, only to be fed lies once again. It’s a vicious cycle. OR… you can ignore the bull shit, find some balance, and not need that crap anymore. I like that option better. But nothing is going to change if we just let it happen and never say anything. This is me saying something.