I’ve written before about comparisons on the blog and how harmful and damaging they are—not only to people with eating disorders but to everyone. When talking about this previously I’ve always referred to comparing how you look to others, but something I’ve noticed more and more is the temptation to compare what and how much food is on your plate to what you see online.
Sadly, it seems in this day and age the less food you have on your plate the better. Having the “discipline” to leave some of your meal uneaten has become something to be praised—and even considered healthy! This has really caused me massive problems with my recovery and I’m sure it does for other people as well.
I’ve been struggling with this for the past few months, really beating myself up for the amounts I eat. Seeing someone’s plate with a teeny piece of meat gently resting upon a meagre handful of salad or veggies praised for being ‘on point’ or ‘perfect’, and reading articles highlighting the importance of always leaving food has become the norm.
I look at these plates and immediately compare it to my own, which to be honest is full to the brim with a mix of whatever we are eating (generally with no white plate visible below), and then I feel ashamed because not only did I start with a bigger amount than the pictures I see, but I also ate it all. Of course, like clockwork the ED pounces, telling me to restrict because I’m “clearly eating too much”. I’ve talked to Matt a lot about this and we both decided that this is just bullshit, we are sick of the lie that says the amount you eat determines your value. It’s so stupid, you should eat how much and what you want till your body tells you its had enough. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners aren’t meant to look like they’ve been pulled out of a magazine—they’re meant to nourish and fuel your body! What is on your plate and how much you eat shouldn’t make us feel ashamed, it should be a source of enjoyment.
Eating as little as possible, and having the smallest serving sizes possible on your plate is not something to be praised but something to be questioned. I have no problem with people who have smaller appetites and don’t eat as much (if that’s truly what their body needs) because everyone is different and bodies need different amounts of fuel.
But I think it’s likely some people would benefit by asking themselves, “Am I feeding my body enough? Does it have enough fuel to get me through my day? Do I really feel full enough to leave some food? Am I listening to what my body is craving and asking for?”
I come from a family who have always eaten decent meals. We always had full plates of mum’s home-cooked dinners and we always ate every bite (and then some) and it was great! I hate the fact that at some point I felt ashamed of this and thought that what we were eating is wrong. Looking at it now, I can see my family is a picture of health. We’re all active, healthy individuals who just happen to have big appetites. Why the hell should I be ashamed of that?
I refuse to feel that way anymore. I’m working on being confident and happy with how much I eat, even it is more than the person sitting next to me. Because you know what? My body might need more food than that person. My body is mine, my hunger is mine. How much I eat is determined by my body’s inner workings and I refuse to let other (in most cases extremely unqualified) people dictate how much I should be eating.
To give you an idea of my average plate, there are a few photos of meals I’ve enjoyed recently at the bottom of this post. They are all full of goodness that my body enjoyed. They don’t look pretty (or even Instagram-worthy) but they were perfect for me and exactly what my body needed at that point.
Ps. I’d like to thank Robyn from the Real Life RD for inspiring this post. She gave me the courage to eat more and not feel bad for it. Truly, thank you.