If you say you don’t subscribe to any “diet”, you are lying. You eat food – you have a diet. It may be a “fuck it, I love pizza” kind of diet, but it still counts. In college I was a vegetarian, who’s main sustenance was bagels and Smirnoff black cherry vodka. After that when I first got “serious” about my nutrition I tried Paleo… which lasted one miserable year. When I decided I wanted to compete I opted for “clean eating” with weekend cheat meals (aka – binge so hard you lose all progress anyway). After my first two competitions where I was exhausted, and over-obsessing about food, and had terrible body dysmorphia… this glimmering light of hope came shining in. FLEXIBLE DIETING.
Around the time I began eating Paleo was when my food obsession began. I don’t mean food obsession in the way of as I am now, which is a self-proclaimed foodie. The type of obsessive where you have a twenty minute inner dialogue about whether or not you should grab another piece of bread from the bread basket at your Girls Night Out and completely block out all conversations with the people around you. Obsession with food to the point of driving through three different drive-through fast food spots to get all the food you want without thinking the people working are judging you. That feeling of uncontrollable and insatiable appetite that once you are unleashed around finger foods the flood gates are open and you JUST. CAN’T. STOP.
Sound familiar? That’s because binge eating disorder is far more common than we would like to admit. Add to that some Orthorexia tendencies and you are in for a rip-roaring good time of hating life.
Among other symptoms, people with this disorder feel that they lose control over eating during a binge episode and are very upset by their recurring episodes. They may also eat in private because of feeling embarrassed by how much they eat during a binge.
B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder among US adults. It’s more common than anorexia and bulimia combined.* So, if you’re concerned about B.E.D., know that you are not alone.
You see those pretty fitness girls with huge followings that preach clean eating and bullshit supplements all the time. They openly state and post about how guilty they feel after bingeing on things like low fat ice cream, or villainize others for eating sugar – perpetuating Orthorexia tendencies within the exercise community and create greater food shame and more obsession for others who believe they are obviously not eating “clean” or “whole” enough if they do not have a six pack. Also, you are annoying – we fucking get it. We are not worthy.
NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOUR DIET. Nobody wants to hear what you can and can’t eat. Eating clean, eating whole foods, eliminating gluten/dairy/sugar/alcohol is not going to fix your mental relationship with food. You need to get your mind right first. You need to clearly state your priorities and evaluate your true overall health… not just aesthetics.
As a coach I can give people the tools to reach their goals. This doesn’t mean I get to tell them when, what, or where to eat. I give them guidelines and knowledge to know what it takes to reach their goal, or whatever their priority is. When it’s time for me to compete or I have a goal with a time frame I am not above weighing and tracking to the point of OCD. Sometimes, my personal priority is eating my way through entire cities with my friends and loved ones. Some days I have egg whites for breakfast and a salad for lunch… and sometimes I run on sugar-free Rockstars and beef jerky all day.
I am currently using this picture as a reminder daily. On the left: where I sit when I say “Fuck it.” (This is quite possibly the most unflattering picture of me ever taken, which is why I use it). The right: What I know I can achieve with adherence and diligence. The goal with flexible dieting is to find BALANCE. I am at a phase where in the past I have tracked my macros so diligently and for so long that now I am relearning to eat intuitively. That is what it is all about – do what you have to do until you can learn enough about food and your body to enjoy life. You can be healthy, and not be an asshole to yourself or obsess over food. Life is way too short to not have a beer at a football game with your Dad, or have pizza and wine nights with your girlfriends. DO NOT GIVE UP 95% OF YOUR LIFE TO BE 5% SKINNIER. Right now I am working my way to a happy spot right in the middle of those two pictures, where it’s sustainable.
Any person that prescribes to a type of nutrition intake can be an extremist. Whether it’s vegans, paleo, clean-eaters, flexible dieting… they can all get a little self-righteous. If you swim through all the muck and useless information you will find one overwhelming fact and that is: The best diet is one that suits your lifestyle, speaks to your priorities, and you are aware of the consequences – good or bad. There are times where my priorities lie in abs and conditioning, to which my nutrition will match the proper path to get there. Most of the time, however, I am learning that life is way more fun when you can enjoy all of the little things… and by little things I mean tapas and dessert. Keep your body healthy enough to live a full active happy life, but don’t push your happiness to the side for shreds and a drop on the scale. There is a time and a place for everything.
Fitness professionals spouting false prophet from their pedestal need to reel it in. Eating nothing but lean protein and veggies may work for you – and 100% adherence may be manageable for your lifestyle, but not everyone has the same extreme goals. Before you preach, understand who is looking to you for knowledge. And if you don’t have the knowledge of changing variables and methods of implementation with nutrition… I suggest you keep your day job.