Thanks But No Thanks

Before I get into my post, I want to wish Emily a very happy birthday! She’s one of the most inspiring bloggers out there and she always leaves the sweetest comments. She has given me so much support over the past couple of years and I really appreciate that. Go over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday!

It’s probably no secret, but I love researching various health topics. I think it’s good to be informed about these issues so you can be an advocate for yourself in times of health crises or even just to defend your healthy lifestyle if need be.

That being said, it bothers me when others are misinformed about health, food and exercise…especially when they try to pass along their ‘advice’ to me as if it’s at all helpful.

Take for instance a situation I had with my mom the other day. I will admit, I was in a negative headspace at the time–I was having some ED-driven thoughts about eating and my weight and I reached out to her for some advice. I wasn’t really seeking advice, just reassurance that I don’t need to lose weight or drastically change my eating and exercise habits just because I’m currently feeling uncomfortable in my body. Unfortunately, my mom isn’t the most well-versed in eating disorders or nutrition, so what she ended up telling me was way off the mark and a little triggering.

  • “Maybe you need to switch up your workouts more.” A good thought, but I actually do this anyway. One day, I’ll focus on legs, then I’ll focus on arms, then abs, then maybe a yoga/stretching day and repeat. I understand the idea behind switching up workouts, but the problem is, she doesn’t understand my exercise addiction. I feel guilty when I take rest days, unplanned or not. She told me that when it’s cold outside, I should just run up and down the stairs for cardio. Ummmm…no. I’m trying to work on making exercise more than just a tool for my eating disorder–it’s something I want to enjoy for its own sake. I don’t need someone telling me to do something I don’t want to do just to maybe get results.
Lifting is something I love to do, and I'm NOT giving it up.

Lifting is something I love to do, and I’m NOT giving it up.

  • “If you’re worried about your weight, maybe you shouldn’t eat so many bananas.” Uh, I eat 1, maybe 2 bananas per day, tops. Even if I was following the 80-10-10 lifestyle and eating 10+ bananas a day, I wouldn’t be gaining weight from the bananas. Sorry, but fruit is good for you. I refuse to cut bananas out of my life because they’re something I enjoy eating daily, in moderation, and they’re way healthier than the breakfasts my family eats. I’m sick of being stuck in a restrictive mindset…the last thing I need is more restrictions.
How is this banana and other fruit unhealthier than your processed cereal?

How is this banana and other fruit unhealthier than my family’s processed cereal?

  • “I think you look healthy.” Probably everyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder will cringe at this one. This is still the last thing I want to hear, especially from my own mom, who was there for me during the worst days of my ED. Yes, I expect honesty but I also expect her to understand that I’m still struggling with my body image. To make things even more confusing, she will sometimes say that I’m ‘so little’ and petite but other times tell me that I look healthy and if I wanted to, I could lose 5 pounds. Not in the least bit helpful, and extremely triggering.
I may not love my body, but I don't need someone else telling me that I could lose a few pounds.

I may not love my body, but I don’t need someone else telling me that I could lose a few pounds.

It’s frustrating to me that people like my mom, or the rest of my family, or friends want to spew all their own advice at me without realizing that I’ve probably spent a lot more time researching this stuff than they have. I just finished a college-level nutrition class, I’ve done a lot of research on the vegan diet and its various forms as well as other diets such as paleo. Maybe what I’m doing isn’t working for me, but I want a dietitian to tell me that, not just an average person I know who gets their nutrition knowledge from The Today Show. I’m not saying that I know all, because I don’t and I’m certainly no RD, but I don’t want to be lectured at by someone who knows even less than I do. It’s not at all helpful, it’s confusing and at the worst, it’s very triggering to someone who’s struggled with and still deals with an eating disorder.

Do you ever deal with bad nutrition/exercise/health advice from people around you?

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20 thoughts on “Thanks But No Thanks

  1. I think this is a tough situation to deal with, but just remember that your family members and friends are probably just trying to help you out–even if they don’t have the knowledge necessary to give you healthy advice. Perhaps your mom misunderstood your questions, and thought that you really DID want nutrition/exercise advice from her. Maybe she is just concerned about your health, and is simply trying to help you out in the best way she can. Since I’ve never seen you in person, and I don’t know exactly how much you eat and exercise each day, I won’t pass judgment on whether or not your weight is “healthy.” However, based on your posts and pictures, I would definitely say that you do NOT need to lose any weight, and that you might even need to gain some. Still, only a doctor or dietitian can give you the best advice in that regards, so I suppose you should take my words with a grain of salt, so to speak:) In regards to bananas, I am always rather shocked when people think eating them will make you gain weight–why would you think that?? You are 100% correct in saying that you don’t need more restrictions in your life; cutting out bananas will not help you at all in your recovery!! I know from experience that recovering from orthorexia is a long and difficult process, and working to overcome those lingering diet restrictions can be quite tough.

    I am sorry that you are still struggling with body image issues–that is always tough to deal with. People might SAY you look healthy, but if your mindset is still somewhat disordered, then you probably don’t feel healthy. I am not sure if you still haven’t gotten your period naturally, but if you haven’t, that is often an indication that your body still doesn’t have a sufficient amount of fat on it to trigger the menstrual cycle. I got my period for the first time earlier last year, and only in the past few months has it become regular. I am 64 inches tall, and probably weigh around 120 pounds (last time i checked)–it took me gaining a good amount of weight before my cycle could start. I don’t mean to sound preachy or critical, and I hope specific numbers aren’t too triggering, but I thought it might help to share my personal experience with such issues. Since I eat a mostly vegan diet, I can relate to people telling me such a diet isn’t healthy, that I won’t get enough B-12 or protein, etc…If possible, you might want to seek out a dietitian who specializes in vegan or vegetarian diets; they may be able to help you out more than those who will say that you NEED to eat animal products to be healthy. I think it is definitely possible to recover from an eating disorder on a vegan diet–you just have to ensure that you are getting the calories and nutrients you need (though this is true on a non-vegan diet as well!!). Anyway, this is turning into a novel-length comment, so I’ll stop now:) I hope this helped at least a little, and didn’t sound too annoying or critical!

    • Not triggering or annoying at all, and definitely helpful! I have a doctor’s appointment set for next month, so I’ll bring up some of these concerns. Especially the period thing, since by that point it will have been 9 months without getting one and I know there’s at least one underlying issue behind that. And I have also considered seeing a vegan dietitian at some point–I know that I’ve done lots of research on veganism, but that doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily eating the right things for me and I’d like to be an example of a healthy vegan!

  2. I wrote a post kind of similar to this but I haven’t published it yet. It is hard because they do not understand and they likely never will even though you really want them to.

    • Is it the post you published on the 9th? I’m just getting to it now and it’s such a hard thing to get people in our lives to understand. At a certain point, they just can’t because they’ve never personally gone through all the thoughts and everything. I guess it’s something we just have to accept.

  3. P says:

    I can very much relate. When I was at the peak of my struggles, my Dad was not well-versed in the topics of EDs and body image, but at that time, I felt like he was the only one I could go to. Parents and family always mean well, but their comments can be triggering/unhelpful if you already have a mindset that’s easily triggered.

    • Very true! I’m sorry you went through the same thing with your dad. My parents have always been supportive as well, but they just don’t fully understand because they’ve never been through it personally.

  4. I hate to say it, because I don’t know your mom and don’t want to judge her, but DO NOT LISTEN TO HER. She may have meant well with what she said, but she clearly does not have an understanding of how words like that can be harmful to someone with an eating disorder. My parents sometimes say hurtful things in regards to my OCD and anxiety and I just have to chalk it up to them not having a mental illness of their own and not being able to truly understand what Im going through. Take what she said with a grain of salt and don’t let it negatively affect you or steer you down a path that is unhealthy and self-sabotaging. Keep working on your goals to limit exercise and letting your body rest! It is so important! I am here and the rest of the blogging community it here to support you!

    • “Take what she said with a grain of salt and don’t let it negatively affect you or steer you down a path that is unhealthy and self-sabotaging.” –>Thank you for this reminder! While I hate seeing other people put in a similar position as me regarding their family or friends’ responses to mental illnesses, it helps me so much to recognize that this is a common issue BUT that I need to do what’s best for me and my health, instead of worrying about what someone else, who isn’t educated on the subject, thinks I should do.

  5. It’s so hard when you’re looking for support to fight off ED thoughts but I give you SO much credit for rationalizing what your mom was saying to you. It’s so hard for people to read between the lines when we ask questions about our bodies when we’re really saying “I need help fighting against ED right now”. Keep fighting and remember you deserve a life beyond ED and as long as you feel good and are treating your body with love, care, and respect you’re doing ok regardless of what ED tries to convince you!

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your reminder to treat myself the way I know is best for me, without worrying about ED’s voice or anyone else’s voice that tells me to do something I know isn’t helpful.

  6. comments from people are really difficult to push through for someone with an ED. but the thing is those people just don’t get it. the only way to prevent it from happening again is to be honest. i’ve had to be that way with my dad because he will says things he means no harm by but they seriously mess with my head. i had a therapy session with my parents there and my therapist helped me voice my concerns about their comments. it really made a difference. if you can do something like that i think it would benefit you greatly.

    • I really like the idea of doing a therapy session with my parents! I did one a few years back when I was still seeing a therapist and it wasn’t as helpful at the time since I was still stuck in my disordered behaviors and mindset, but I think expressing my concerns now would be beneficial for me and my parents. I want so much for them to understand, but I have to be willing to help them do that.

  7. First of all, thank you SO much for the sweet birthday wish. I can’t believe that I’m finally feeling well enough to catch up on my blogging. Never the less, I really appreciate it and feel so lucky to call you one of my best online-friends. (:
    Second, I know exactly how you’re feeling. I dealt with really similar issues with my dad and it’s painful and heartbreaking. My dad is a personal trainer so, even when I was really underweight, he still encouraged me to workout and eat healthy. He would tell me to avoid juices because they had “too much sugar” or add more weights to “gain muscle”. But really I just needed someone to tell me to STOP.
    The best advice I can give you is to not look to other people for validation or advice, unless they’re a professional. They don’t understand what you’re going through or the way your mind works and it will only be detrimental to you in the long run. Based on the things you’ve said in this post, you know what you need to do to be healthier and it’s just a matter of building up the courage to do those things. I know you can. And I promise it will all pay off in the end. Gaining weight seems terrifying but, the more you gain, the more confident you’ll become and it won’t be scary anymore. I promise. xoxo

    • Awww I’m just glad you’re feeling better and that you had a wonderful birthday despite being sick!

      That’s a very hard thing to deal with, especially with your dad as a personal trainer with all the education and knowledge but still telling you things that were hurtful and harmful. But we need to do what works for US, not another person who hasn’t gone through the same things we have. Like you said, it IS scary to change those behaviors I’ve held onto for so long, but I think any step in the right direction is a good one and it’s a matter of building up each little step until I’m not scared to make a change and I’m actually willing to do it!

      Thank you again for all the amazing support you’ve given me through blogging/emails. I can’t thank you enough for how much confidence it’s given me to live my life again!

  8. YOUR MOM ACTUALLY TELLS YOU YOU COULD LOSE A FEW POUNDS OMG I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT TO SAY I AM SO WHAT THE WHAT?????

    Okay. Let me calm down.

    Girl, I just want to give you a big hug and encourage you to do everything possible to avoid dicussion of weight, exercise and diet (not diet,diet … but overall nutrition, diet) with her. Bless her heart.

    In fact? It may be best to try and avoid it with most people.
    Gosh I would probably cry. ((hugs))

    • You are so right. People who haven’t gone through it are kinda clueless. Honestly, I don’t blame her for saying that, but I’m trying not to let it bug me. It definitely hurts though to hear it from someone close to you.

      • It really sucks to have that “thing” in your brain that hears fat when you KNOW the person is complementing you. It is something that no one can understand unless you experience it. I have to tell my Mom, “No, it’s not that I actually hear FAT it’s like I’m uncomfortable right now with weight gain and being in my skin and to hear comments on that is just pointing out my discomfort in a way, which feels like torture. So it’s like someone saying “look how much torture you are in” even when part of me can feel.

        It’s not a VOICE that I call Mr. Ed in my head, People! LOL.

        But what sucks even worse than your nagging little thoughts when someone says stuff like “you look good, healthy…etc” is when you hear stuff like “you are losing weight again” or “you haven’t been eating have you” because I HATE to admit it, but it’s true, I feel a certain way when that happens, too. It doesn’t hurt as much.

        • That last part…that is so freaking hard too. I remember a few times when people would say that to me, and part of me would be thrilled but the other part would just be confused because I didn’t see it in myself. Comments in general like that are just bad.

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