America, an interesting culture to say the least, right? A culture that reflects the epitome of a paradox when it comes to food. We are a culture that loves food! Think about it, we bond over it. Every party we go to, we are expected to eat from their wide selection. We go on dates at restaurants or meet up with friends for “half-priced apps” (appetizers that is)! Almost all of our social engagements involve food. Yet at the same time, we are enamored with the idea of losing weight and having the “perfect” body. We literally live in the ultimate paradox, a culture that is BOTH diet-obsessed and food-obsessed.
How do we rectify such opposite, yet powerful constructs of our culture? When we resort to our Eating Disorders and live under the rules our Eating Disorder sets forth for us, we start to isolate ourselves from friends and family because of the very fact that our culture is food-obsessed, and being social comes with a lot of events that include food. This is extremely difficult for someone struggling with an Eating Disorder to deal with, so they don’t. This creates an environment for the Eating Disorder to fester more because it now is starting to break apart your social connections and support network.
Now, this cultural paradox also becomes problematic for the struggling person now entering recovery from their Eating Disorder. The diet-obsessed culture is EVERYWHERE in the Western world! We see it multiple times a day, every day and sometimes it’s so subliminal or so typical, that we aren’t even recognizing it occurring. How many times a day do you hear comments like the following?
“I did so good today, I only had a salad so far.”
“I have to workout extra today because of dessert last night.”
“I’m going to not eat today so I can eat more at the party.”
“I’m going to save my calories for the weekend!”
“Ugh, why did I have that chocolate cake? That was so bad!”
I bet you can probably think of many recent instances that you heard something like those, because it is so typical in our culture. It has now become the norm to be dieting, hating the way you look, or wanting to change your body.
Recovery is difficult in our culture. In recovery, we teach about eating intuitively, enjoying food and understanding that we may overeat sometimes and it’s ok, it’s life. We teach about moving mindfully with Yoga, walking or another movement that feels good both mentally and physically, not about punishing your body with brutal workouts that hurt and perpetuate a cycle of self-hatred. We teach about accepting our bodies for what they are and where they want to be. And we teach about loving ourselves. Sadly, all of this is different from what our food-obsessed and diet-obsessed culture is telling us. It’s important to recognize that the opposing messages are just a product of this paradoxical culture and not what is the best for you or your recovery.
It’s difficult to counter our culture and to continue to think differently from the masses to help in your recovery. It’s hard to remain steadfast in what recovery teaches rather than getting confused from the opposing messages of our culture. Thankfully, we are increasing awareness in our society and we are starting to see a counter-culture in this regard. Hopefully one day, we can get passed this paradoxical culture and the masses will start believing in self-love, self-acceptance and Body Kindness.
Thank you for reading this. Please share with anyone who you think may find it helpful. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, please leave a comment or message me privately.
I wish you cultural and self-awareness on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder