I feel like I should write about this - the whole "journey" I went on in my attempt to quit sugar is something I documented a lot on this blog, going as far as to give away a copy of the book in a giveaway, and even do a review of it (I think.) I can't erase those posts, or take back the things that I've said, but I can tell you what it's been like for me, and how I am now, two years later. If nothing else, it will give more context to all of these other posts that I've written.
There is one thing I want to say, first of all: all bodies are different, all bodies have different needs. There is not one universal way to eat. There are too many variables, internal and external, that influence our energy needs, and the kinds of food that we eat. Adding qualifiers to the ways that we eat: good, bad, healthy, clean, unhealthy, detox, creates an unnecessary moral anxiety about food, and that can have pretty devastating consequences.
I was lucky. I got help before my obsession with food and exercise and "being good" progressed into full-blown bulimia, but my God, it was scary when I was there. And it took a very, very, very long time before I got to a point where I was comfortable talking about it. I still don't consider myself as "recovered." I don't think I ever will be.
The problem with completely banning something, from creating a set of eating rules, and labeling every deviation from those rules as a moral crime, is that it makes for a very miserable life. You're constantly craving what is forbidden, and you're constantly beating yourself up over the fact that you're not perfect and able to follow the rules. For an obsessive, type-A personality like myself, it's a very fine line to walk. I'd think about sweets. I'd over-eat on the things that I was allowed. I abused caffeine and sports, to the point where I was constantly sick and sore and hurting.
One day last year, I ran 8 miles in the blistering June heat. I don't remember how I got home, but I remember thinking, right in the middle of it, "I have a problem."
I honestly don't want to talk about what happened afterward. Calling it a "journey" is bullshit. "Journey" implies something glamorous and admirable, and there is nothing glamorous about crying in a councilor's office about being a failure, or feeling terrible about taking a day off from running because your legs are killing you, or struggling through mealtimes.
Blogging, I'm afraid, didn't help me through that time.
I watched videos and read blogs of people talking about how they're trying to be more "healthy" and going on a "detox" and sharing hauls of cute exercise clothes and showing the occasional "naughty" recipe. I felt so many things: upset, ashamed, angry, despairing, and at no point did I feel like anyone really talked about "balance" as something other than "earning those bad foods, or repenting for them."
Why is blogging so judgy? Wasn't this supposed to be the community where we could all just be ourselves and be supportive of one another?
Let me be clear: if a way of eating works for you, that's great. Be vegan. Be paleo. Be sugar-free. But please, don't add moral qualifiers to the way you eat, and if you're a blogger, please, please, please don't perpetuate the myth that people who eat are certain way are bad or good. Talk about the joys of exercise - how it makes you feel, as opposed to how many calories you burned, and don't call yourself names if you take a rest day. Don't use "balance" as a way to say "earning" certain foods.
We are bloggers. For better or for worse, our opinions are out there into the public sphere, and other people are reading them. Don't add to a culture of food- and body-shaming.
I did. And I am sorry for it. I am so, so very sorry for it.