There are so many things that I want to cover in these Thursday Thoughts posts - so many different aspects and features of disordered eating that I want to go through.
Today I've chosen "living up to expectations" which was inspired by my day which, to be honest (as you'll see from my diary below) has been pretty awful eating-wise.
A lot of blame is put on the media and celebrities for creating these stupid expectations of what females should look like - tiny waists, flawless bodies, toned bums and tums. This is what we feel we have to live up to in order to please ourselves, our friends, our family, our other halves, and even random people on the street. I know that for me, I'm a perfectionist, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best I can. Therefore if a supermodel has an amazing body, then it must be achievable, and therefore there is no reason why I shouldn't be like that.
However, as we now know, many of these "supermodels" are artificially created with the help of a bit of the good old photoshop.
And on top of this there are so many other expectations we have to live up to that can influence our eating. For me, there was the expectation of being The Skinny one. Way before I had issues with eating I had been a bit tall and gangly, and I felt that was my defining feature. Nowadays, one of my main fears and issues preventing me from recovering is the fact that people will see how much weight I've put on. This has prevented me from going to meet-ups with old friends as I know they expect me to be skinny (and some of them even got used to seeing me on the more extreme side of skinny) and I don't want them to look at me and think I've put on weight. Same when I eat around people who know my issues: I know they expect me to eat certain things and small amounts...and that makes me feel like I've got to live up to their expectations, even though if I was eating alone I might eat differently.
Surely there's enough confusion and things to be thinking about in our own lives, without starting to worry about what other people are thinking of us too?!
And then there are the expectations we have of ourselves. I know that I struggle with my eating on the days I travel home from working on the South Coast. It starts off ok with breakfast and lunch as it follows routine. However in the past I have always struggled with eating unhealthy snacks when travelling, and coming home to a house without any fresh produce means I have often ended up binging on junk foods. And now I expect myself to do that, and that means I put up less of a fight to such behaviours: why waste energy trying to prevent myself from doing something when I'm just going to end up doing it anyway? (Yeah, stupid thinking, I know). I fear the days I come home because I feel completely out of control of my eating. My eating diary below reflects that. I wanted to lie and change what I'd eaten so you wouldn't think badly of me, but what good would that be? I promised you honesty, and I also need to be honest with myself. Disgusted is not the word. On the plus side, there is still food in my flat - I haven't gone on a 3,000 kcal binge, consuming everything in sight. Silver linings to very, very dark clouds. I know that if I'd eaten more earlier in the day, of healthy, sustaining foods, this binge would have been less likely. Yet another reason to recover.
Yes, it would be amazing if we lived up to our own and everyone else's expectations. But let's face it, that's not possible. And surely these expectations that I've listed are stupid expectations to live up to? Even if my friends do notice I've put on weight, so what? Do I really deep down in my core think that they're going to like me any less for that? No. Society has told us that weight gain is equivalent with a lack of control and gluttony, but my friends know me better than that. They will see me eating healthy, sensible quantities of food. They stick around me because of the qualities that lie underneath my appearance, and a bit of weight gain will not reduce their feelings towards me. They probably would be thankful to see me looking healthier!
And what if everyone lived up to those expectations set by the celebrities and the media (and are they really to blame - are they not themselves just living up to the expectations that the vicious circle of society has created and will continue to create?)? Well, we'd all look identical. And I don't think any of us want that. I think, honestly, we all like to have a bit of individuality. How else would close friendships form? How would we ever get that feeling you get when you find someone who you really click with? How would you attract your future partner over the person stood next to you?
And as for living up to expectations of ourselves, well, only we have control of that. That's right, WE HAVE CONTROL. We're the ones that decide our expectations of ourselves, and we're the ones that control our behaviour. I shouldn't feel out of control of my eating because I think I don't have any control over my behaviours, because I'm the one in charge of my brain. Ok, so my disordered thoughts are pretty well ingrained, and they are difficult to argue with (otherwise mental health issues wouldn't exist!) but we all need to remember that we're strong and we can do anything we put our minds to. If we want to recover, then we can recover.
Forget all these expectations we have to deal with in life. Decide who you want to be, decide how you want to live your day, and own it!