Why Can’t You Just Eat a Cheeseburger?

There are two things (ok a lot of things but lets just focus on these two for a second) that absolutely drive me insane when people say them to me.

1. Oh my gosh I wish I could have your problem!

2. Why can’t you just eat a few cheeseburgers?

In a weight loss crazed society I can somewhat understand, sort of, why people might say something like, “I wish I could have the same self-control,” “I wish I had the ambition to exercise everyday,” or “I wish I could eat whatever I want because I had to gain weight…”

To someone who does not have an completely irrational mental disorder, I understand that MAYBE these things might be in a sense, appealing, or seem like they good attributes, but I can assure you, you DO NOT under any circumstances, want the horrific thoughts, feelings, physical pain, mental distortions, or million and one other bad things that come with being sick.

Self-control is an understatement because even though I may think I am in complete control of my body, I am absolutely not.

ED, a crazed, possessive force is actually in charge and if I defy what the parasite tells me to do, it means hours, days, weeks, of hell to pay.

Maybe being thin is “in,” but the baggage that comes with being consumed by it, is NOT fun, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I don’t openly discuss my issues at work or outside my immediate family and close when we are in my hometown. Obviously anyone who reads my blog is in on the “secret,” but it is not something I typically tell people.

Its gotten to the point where no one really makes any comments about my appearance, unless my body starts getting bigger (seriously triggering and irritating) but there have been instances when random people will say, “why can’t you just eat a couple cheeseburgers and put some meat on those bones.”

This is especially the case if someone is completely misunderstanding of the disorder.

I remember when Ryan told my dad and explained the severity of my state, his solution was we could go to his favorite pizza shop and I could just eat a large pie.

He was joking, I think, but that is how some people perceive the recovery process; a person who is suffering just has to eat and everything will be fine.

If only it were that easy…

Last week I discussed the incredible guilt that comes from attempting fear foods, allowing yourself to “let go,” etc. but honestly, one of the most difficult parts of getting healthy is working through the underlying beliefs, often non-food related, that manifest through restriction of calories, over-exercise and bodily abuse.

My self-hatred does not have to do solely with a fear of being fat. I am scared of a bigger body, for sure, but typically I manipulate my recovery plan the most when something happens in my life that makes me feel out of control, inadequate or overly emotional in any respect.

I don’t like dealing with internal feelings, especially when they are challenging and beyond my realm of management, so I naturally turn to an aspect of life I can influence and that is my body.

Because this disorder is so private and somewhat socially acceptable (remember, thin is in!) there is a lack of understanding within the general public.

I have said this probably a million times but an eating disorder is so not about the food.

It is a major part of it, but it is coupled with a lot of negative self-talk, suppression of emotion, and perfectionist tendencies that cannot be solved by an increased meal plan or another bag of McDonald’s.

I appreciate people trying to give their insight and support through the two statements I listed above, but I wish I could provide more education to help others understand that an eating disorder is incredibly complex, about way more than nutrition, and despite the fact that most who are suffering try to emulate that we are totally fine and can handle everything that is going on, we can’t.

We just may not be ready to ask for the help verbally, but it is demonstrated pretty well physically.

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8 thoughts on “Why Can’t You Just Eat a Cheeseburger?

  1. This is a really succinct post about (stupid) society’s perception of eating disorders. I can’t tell you how many times my ex-boyfriend’s parents tried to “help” by dishing me and extra helping of sweet potatoes, or even my own parents suggested that we “just go get a Starbucks.” Sometimes it’s hard to stay patient with these people… but if they care about you they eventually gain some greater understanding.

    Also, you’re right on with the “thin is in” bit. And I think that makes it 10x more challenging sometimes. While, no, that message isn’t the sole cause of eating disorders, it certainly is a piece of the puzzle, and absolutely can encourage them once they develop. (ie. that sick sense of pride that sometimes comes with anorexia, especially in treatment centers). When that mentality peaks in I really need to study my jutting bones and scream THIS thin is NOT in.

    Lastly… do you ever almost find yourself adopting that “just eat a cheeseburger” mentality? I know sometimes I psych myself up, mostly when my weight drops too much, and get that close to “allowing” myself some cheeseburger/alfredo/ice cream item. Just to make the scale go up, without having to stomach 2998327598374323 pounds of salad. Then I start to ruminate over the composition of said item… (fat! calories! chemicals!) … and we’re at square one, consumed by the food guilt you talked about.

    Your writing is wonderful, and I’m glad to hear you had a great weekend. Have a good week ahead!

    • i absolutely find myself adopting the mentality sometimes, and then after having relentless guilt that just perpetuates the cycle again! it is really quite annoying and difficult to handle, especially when most people dont really understand.
      thank you for your comment. as much as I hate other people struggling it makes me feel so much LESS crazy when someone can relate! you are worth it ❤

  2. I totally agree with everything you’ve said in this post, and I wish that other people could realise that being thin is not always as glamorous and attractive as it seems to be portrayed as.

    I can really relate to the last statements you made. I always tried to emulate that I was OK, yet on the inside it always just felt like so much to handle and come to terms with. Sometimes I just broke down completely and gave in to my inner anguish – a process that usually caused me to just cry and cry uncontrollably, but almost always while I was alone. I think that this is a big problem for people suffering from an ED – at least it was for me – because we don’t really let people see what we are going through and act like everything is fine, it’s hard for others to understand or perhaps even recognise the real severity of an eating disorder. This means the only real cues outsiders have are, like you said, physical. In my case, I must have hidden it far too well because apart from people telling me “ooh, you’re so skinny! I wish I was skinny!” no one ever reached out to me and asked if I was OK, despite my weight being dangerously low. This is something I really wish had happened, to be honest but instead I had to take the first step all by myself which was terrifyingly difficult.

    But yeah – just thought I’d chip in because I feel quite passionately about the issues you raised in this post. And you always write so nicely too! 😀

    Have a nice day 🙂

    • I am so sorry no one ever reached out to you when you were struggling so much inside. This disorder is incredibly lonely and I can imagine that just made you feel even worse. I hope you are doing better but if you ever need ANYTHING, please do not hesitate to contact me. Its weird how being so sick oddly connects you to others who can relate.
      thank you for the comment and compliments. you are too sweet and i appreciate all your kindness. Like I said, please do not hesitate to contact me if you need a friend 🙂 ❤

  3. So true. Disordered eating seems very misunderstood. It seems obvious to me that people who suffer from it are just that- suffering. It’s not something that is a blessing or glamorous. People who say things like that are ignorant. I hope you don’t let it get to you, but I know how much people’s words can sting.*

  4. Eating disorders are very misunderstood indeed. I used to find so much offense in the “Why can’t you just eat a cheeseburger?” type comments because people just didn’t understand what was swirling on in my poor head, but… now that I’ve gotten so much better about letting go of all my food fears and fears of being fat, I’ve come to realize that that kind of a statement, said by myself TO myself, has probably helped me along the way. I’ve been unhappy many times during recovery and realized that a lot of it stems from still sticking to somewhat safe foods or workouts while feeling under-satiated and unsatisfied. Oh, and I was still gaining the necessary weight I had to gain in order to be healthy and reach my norm. So I thought, “Wow, this kind of stinks… it’s not fun. I may as well make it more fun! Life is too short.”

    And I can proudly say I’ve maintained a healthy, stable weight for about 3 months now, and don’t think twice about what I eat. Cheeseburgers are a bit tough lol, but not impossible. If I truly craved one, I’d eat it. I’m really so over that ED-mentality that took away so much of my life.

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