Eating disorders and weight
85% of people with eating disorders are NOT underweight using the measurement of BMI. Even though I think BMI is BS, I’ll use it in context with this explanation. You can be underweight for your body yet overweight on the BMI scale. You can be a “healthy BMI” yet be underweight for your body.
And so those 85% who are not considered underweight and who have an ED are just as valid as someone who is underweight using the BMI scale.
The stereotype is that people with eating disorders are emaciated. That’s certainly not always true.
Genetically my body did “go there” when I had anorexia and it was obvious that I had an ED. When the anorexia morphed into bulimia and binge eating, I didn’t look like I had an ED but I was still very much IN a restrictive ED. I’ve worked with many women who are in bodies where it is not obvious that they have a restrictive eating disorder. Their doctors don’t diagnose an ED and in fact, often praise and encourage disordered behaviours if the person isn’t in a very thin body or considered overweight on the BMI scale.
That’s like not helping someone who has depression because they don’t look like they have depression…
I’ve worked with clients who have been restricting far more than I used to restrict but because they are in normal-sized or larger-sized bodies, nobody is saying they should eat more. Nobody is saying they should get help. Nobody can see the physical effects of the ED. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. An ED diagnosis should be based on the person’s behaviours and how it is affecting their life and their mental health. It shouldn’t be reliant on their body size.
If you’re in an ED, in recovery from an ED or have recovered and your body is considered “fat” then the question becomes, “how do you accept your fat body in the society we live in?”
Being thin or having a “great body” gives you social capital. Privileges. People treat you differently. Not everyone but most. It’s like being wealthy… having a lot of money or being considered rich gives you social capital. That’s the root of most (not all) eating disorders, seeking approval and acceptance from society. (Another root of eating disorders is due to trauma and a way of coping).
It’s natural for us to want to seek acceptance and approval due to our genetics. If we weren’t accepted way back when then we’d have been rejected from the tribe and therefore been left to fend for ourselves. The outcome of that would have most likely been ‘death’ at worst or at best a life full of struggle.
I’m going to share one of Brene Brown’s quotes that really clarifies what I’m about to share;
“If you spend your whole life trying to fit in, you’ll never truly belong”Bene Brown
We no longer live in a tribal setting where if we were to be rejected it would be a matter of life or death. Yes, we live in a society that treats people differently depending on their body size – which is fucked up – but that doesn’t mean we have to live this way forever. We get to be the change that we’d like to see. And this change IS happening. Slowly but surely. I am a part of it and you can be a part of it.
So what can you do?
“How do you accept your fat body in the society we live in?”
Well, in all honesty, even though this might not sound like an answer, the answer I have for you is this;
“You have no choice. You have to accept your body. Your body is the body that you’ve been given. And YOU only have this life in this body. And in this lifetime your body is not going to change its genetics. You can restrict and restrict and restrict which you most likely have been doing (whether or not you were capable of sticking to that restriction or not doesn’t matter, you will still be restricting mentally and emotionally regardless) but that will not get you anywhere good. It doesn’t work and it doesn’t change your genetics.”
Your only option is to stop restricting yourself and work on your body image. You’ve most likely come to the conclusion that restriction actually causes your body to want to store more fat anyway. Most people’s bodies are predisposed to hold onto as much fat as possible when in an energy deficit … because that’s sensible!
Your body doesn’t all of a sudden turn stupid because you want a smaller body… it won’t go – “Oh there’s not enough food in the environment, therefore I won’t store fat”
Your body is too smart for that.
And so if you’re in a naturally “fat” body, no amount of restriction will “work” AND if it did “work” AKA if you were able to lose a lot of weight and be in a smaller body, it will completely fuck you up mentally anyway and so its completely off the table regardless! Restriction does not work.
Your body knows what it is doing, Your unsuppressed, healthy and natural body weight may be “fat” but it is perfect for your body.
Body diversity is a thing. It may be fashionable and desirable to be in a lean body, but that is unfortunate. That’s not how bodies work. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. This might be hard to accept but recovery from an ED (anorexia, orthorexia, bulimia, binge eating) is about not suppressing your natural body weight and accepting what that may be.
If your body naturally and optimally wants to be a BMI of 30 for example (like mine) then to be anything other than that, you’ll be restricting. And if you’re restricting then you’ll have an eating disorder… evidently which is why you’re here.
You need to make the decision of “I’m going to fully recover and I’m not going to suppress my body weight. And wherever my body needs to go and whatever my body deems appropriate, I’m going to allow it to happen and I will stay completely out of it.”
Then you can relax into that. You can’t go into recovery and say “I’m going to go all in and not restrict but if my body gets to a certain size or weight then I’m going to start restricting again” because some people’s bodies are larger sized. They are naturally supposed to be there and look fabulous there too!
“Strong authentic women do not suppress their natural body size.”Tabitha Farrar
It’s not about changing your body it’s about changing your perception of what beautiful is and changing your perception of what your body should be and releasing judgment around that.
Ultimately it comes down to this:
- you’re either restricting and suppressing your body weight and living in the hell hole of an ED
- or you’re not. And you’re eating unrestricted and letting your body do what it needs to do.
Which one is it? You can’t recover and be restricting.
The only option for you to be happy in this lifetime with the body you have is to figure out how you can accept the body you have when everyone else around you is afraid of being fat or getting fat. That’s the shit show that is society.
So stop fighting your body. Start to make friends with your body and have a goal of accepting and loving yourself and your body as is. And if you have that goal you will absolutely achieve it because if you have or have had an ED you have everything you need within you TO achieve any goal you set for yourself. End of.
And I know that you CAN accept and be happy in your body at its natural, beautiful, designed to be body weight. This is your time. If you were born about a hundred years ago then it wouldn’t be an issue… but you weren’t… you were born now. I promise you if you set that as an intention – to be happy in your body – then you can and you will be able to. I’ve supported many clients to do it and I’ve seen many influencers do it in “fat” bodies and you can too.
WHY do you give so much of a fuck what others think of you? If you can live your life not giving a fuck what others think of you then you’d be free.
To recap what acceptance looks like:
1. Body Acceptance
It is what it is – meeting life on life’s terms
Acceptance is letting go of resistance – letting go of fighting reality and then surrender is the embodiment of acceptance and FEELS good.
Colour of the sky .. blue, grey? Do you accept that? or do you try to use your willpower to change it?!
Restricting is false control – it’s like building, dismantling and then rebuilding a table over and over again… OR if you CAN restrict without bingeing then it’s like dismantling a table and then leaving it dismantled. You have no table and it’s in pieces on the floor…have you had enough yet?
2. Body Appreciation
Being IN your body
What your body does for you and what it allows you to experience
Always someone worse off
3. Unconditional love
The way you’d love a child or a pet
When you see photos, maybe you might have a judgment about your appearance but there’s an underlying feeling of ‘ah but that’s me and my body, that makes me, me. I love me.’
Knowing/believing that you are more than the appearance of your body
Your body is the least interesting thing about you
Loving yourself and your body through life as it changes
Noticing fatphobic self-judgments but then choosing to send love to yourself and your body anyway but love isn’t conditional
4. Body positivity
Celebrating the way your body and other bodies look
Glass and 200ml water – it just is. 200ml water
How can you see the glass as half full, not half empty?
You can add tasty things to the water, make the glass look pretty etc but there is still 200ml in the glass
What feels expansive and what feels contractive? The truth feels expansive.