When Healthy Gets Scary

How many Instagram posts have you seen that are hastagged with cleaneating or cleansing or lookatmygodlikebodybecauseicaremoreaboutmyfleshlyappearancethanmyhealth?  Okay, so maybe you haven't seen the last one, but that's what I "see" whenever I read any of the clean eating sort of tags.  I'm here to break a myth for you collegiettes-- there's no such thing as clean eating, because there's no such thing as dirty eating.

"But Madi, what about like hamburgers and like fast food and you know Twinkies?  Those are full of dangerous chemicals and other gross things I don't actually know the name of but am deathly afraid of and you probably should be too?"

And to you I say: 

I can almost guarantee you that you are not the person the CDC is concerned about when they campaign against processed foods (btw processed does not equal bad) and try to encourage healthy and balanced eating.  The people they are concerned about probably don't have access to the Whole Foods/Harris Teeter/Target/Commons that you have access to nor the ability to pay for enough nor the education (indoctrination?) you have to make the "right" choices, at least most of the time.

Let me be very clear: eating healthfully is not a problem.  Being obsessed with it is.  And I write this article because I see a lot of people at Davidson who are obsessive over what they put into their bodies. I write this for you-- the employed and/or a student-subset of America who is more likely to develop this specific issue with food.  

1. Respecting yourself does not mean policing your food.  

2. Being into eating healthfully is not a problem, freaking out when food doesn't follow your rules (having rules about food in general...) or feeling guilty/anxious/angry/upset/sad when you don't follow your rules is a problem.

3. Not having any other interests besides food trends (check your browser history, you know what I mean) and *health* suggestions.  

4. NEVER or ALWAYS doing something does not make you good or full of willpower.

5. Health is manifested differently in every single person and it is not up to you to police anyone else's health.  Health also does not have to be your priority (especially the visible portion of health).  

6. Sometimes the things you say can have incredibly detrimental effects on the people sitting around you—be mindful of that… especially because I would hope you’d have more to talk about than food and exercise and bodies.

This isn’t an exhaustive list.  But it’s something to keep in mind as you go through your day.  No, don’t get all paranoid about your habits, and don’t go assessing everyone you meet (I do that sometimes, it’s not fun).  Just be wary; so much of what we deem normal behavior can be the gate to a road to hell, and that gate might already be swung open.  And that’s ok.  There’s any and all levels of support for that.