The Comparison Trap: Thoughts

Lately I have been lately been noticing lots of wonderful posts popping up– all questioning the  “health” blogger comparison trap, and tackling the journey of intuitive eating.

I need to give a huuuge hug to Amanda (Running with Spoons), Megan (The Oatmeal Diaries), and Jenny (Peanut Butter and Jenny) for inspiring me and making me feel like I’m not the only one. All of these gals are at different points of their lives in terms of eating philosophy and intuitive eating, but they all agree: this whole issue of being the perfect image of “health” can at times do more harm than good.

These girls have all stirred up my emotions for the past few days, and really made me question my view of myself. Let me explain:

I am at a point in my life when I feel neither here nor there– I am not restricting my food intake dreadfully and feeling utterly depressed, but nor do I feel completely happy and whole– I’m not fully trusting my body or having faith in my eating habits. 

I am feeling rather confused, to be frank.

Have I gained too much weight?

Am I eating too much?

Am I fat?

Can I trust my body to work itself out?

Will I EVER feel comfortable with myself, inside and out?

I don’t know where to go from here. This is as far as I got the last time I attempted to recover my disordered eating, before essentially “relapsing”. I don’t where things go from here. I have a half daydreaming of France, writing cookbooks, and revolutionizing the world of rats. And another part nastily sneering that I could never attempt these things unless my eating habits were “perfect” and my stomach was flattened out.

It sounds lame, but these are the things that have haunted me.

And until these amazing girls wrote these posts– and I read them– I felt like hope would not be forthcoming. I was simply waiting desperately for my next therapy appointment!

Something Amanda wrote really resounded with me, regarding blogs that can make one struggling with disordered eating feel like a fat overeater with an utterly imperfect life to boot:

“The truth is that no matter how good something looks on the screen of your computer, you never see the whole picture. Sure, someone may eat very little, exercise excessively, and still appear to have a life that’s all sunshine and rainbows, but you don’t ever hear about the darker side… and believe me, there is one.

You don’t realize that the person has no energy to do anything once they finish their workout, or that they need 8 cups of coffee or cans of Diet Coke to get through the day. You don’t realize that they can’t stop thinking about when and what their next meal will be, or that they choke down their egg white omelettes when they’d really kill for bagel with cream cheese. You never hear about the sleepless nights, the missed opportunities, or the health scares. But they’re there. They’re there and they’re very much the result of what happens when you fail to take care of your body properly – it breaks down, just like anything else. It may not happen instantly, but over time, the abuse and neglect will catch up to you, guaranteed.”

From Megan:

“Who did I think I was, eating a decadent dessert in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon? I should be doing homework or going on a run or buying veggies at the farmer’s market, not sitting outside with friends on a gorgeous day enjoying dessert. Then I realized I was pretty sick of always thinking about what I “should” be doing. I told those doubtful voices to shove it and promptly ordered a Belgian waffle covered in chocolate.

From Jenny:

“After thinking about it for awhile I realize that I eat foods like chia seeds and flaxseed not for the sake of enjoyment or nourishing my body, but rather, for the sake of being “the healthiest health blogger I can be!” I try my hardest to resist the urge to compare myself (and especially my eating habits) to other bloggers, but as I’m sure we all can attest – it’s damn hard! Especially when it’s a community so specifically focused on nutrition and health, I think it can definitely perpetuate an obsession with healthy foods and eating as “cleanly” as possible.”

I need to give big hugs and kisses to all these girls! Or send them some cookies…. or rats? No. Maybe not that last one :). (Speaking of rats, Vinny is relaxing on my lap as I write!).

He’s the best 🙂

Perhaps I’m pretty good, too.

What a concept.

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5 Responses to The Comparison Trap: Thoughts

  1. Molly says:

    As I commented in a previous post, I believe that my eating struggles are similar to yours. My restrictive dietary habits are largely a result of a short period of weight gain, but they have had a lasting and destructive impact on my self-confidence. Like you, I often counter my optimism and life goals with self-depricative thoughts of inadequacy. These sentiments ultimately result in unwarranted lashings out at my loved ones – all at the irrational hand of a disordered mind-set.

    No more. For me, a paradigm shift has really been the key to healing. I used to see my internal struggle as paramount to all else. Now, I place it on a virtual continuum of what I call “my journey.” Though I am not at all completely healed, I understand that my present problems are temporary; I will continue to grow in other areas of my life, and with this development, I may overcome or at least reduce my food fixation.

    Lastly, I want to tell you that I am always overcome with a sense of peace when I reach your blog. Your meals and surroundings are so very natural that I cannot help but smile. I know that this has to ultimately come from you, but know that you do inspire many. Email me if you are ever in need.

    Molly

  2. Hey hun. First off, big hugs back to you. What a sweetheart 🙂

    I’m not too sure of your history, or where exactly you are right now in terms of everything, so the advice I can give is quite limited. But I can tell you one thing: there is NO perfect way of eating. It doesn’t exist. In fact, perfection itself doesn’t exist. I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life and it’s held me back from doing so much because what was the point if I couldn’t do it perfectly? Sometimes I would spend so much time trying to figure out how to do something perfectly in my mind, that I ended up doing nothing at all. And not only that, but I was extremely unhappy.

    I don’t know exactly how my change in mindset came about, but I just got fed up with it. I got tired of spending all my time thinking, and never doing it. So now, I think for a while and just dive in. If I notice that I’m spending too much time trying to obsess over something, I cut it short and go with my gut, so to speak.

    In regards to eating, I used to try to figure out the perfect meals, or the perfect combinations, or the perfect ratios, blah, blah, blah. The only thing that ended up happening? I felt horrible. Cranky. Unhappy. You name it. When I started giving up the control, and not caring whether my meal was all carbs with no protein, or had too much sugar, or wasn’t “healthy”, I actually gained… happiness. It was extremely uncomfortable and foreign feeling at first, but I fell in love with how much freer it made me feel.

    Aaaaand I just wrote a novel 😆 so I apologize.

  3. Natalie says:

    i loved all those posts too and they were all really inspirational. i think we can all relate to this comparison trap thing – we all do it! but this awareness is key obviously, and like amanda said, it’s freeing NOT to compare!

  4. SO happy u wrote about this! im so with you girl! and i see this a agreat future ahead of u!

  5. Wow, this post seriously made my day! Thank you for the shout-out! Girl, you are more than “pretty good.” Wake up every morning and tell yourself you’re the best damn thing since sliced bread! You deserve to live a full and happy life without restriction and without food guilt/anxiety! I basically just realized I was treating myself like crap when I should have been treating myself like a queen. We all deserve the best. 🙂 xoxo

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