The Risky Business of Elimination Diets

There are so many trends out there these days, it’s so easy to jump on one or the other. Everyone wants to encourage everyone else to follow their way of life, whether it be gluten-free, vegan, intermittent fasting or some other elimination diet.

Personally, I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and cannot digest gluten and dairy very well. So obviously, it makes sense to avoid these things in order for me feel my best.

However, in the last few months I have found myself being pulled into making dietary changes that were not necessary for me in the slightest.

How it all began…

I joined a 12-step program after having read online that it was helpful to some people suffering with binge eating disorder.

After two meetings, I was convinced my entire problem was a horrific sugar addiction and I needed to cut it out immediately.

So, I stopped eating sugar. Later on, for similar reasons, I cut carbs. I told myself I was being healthier, sleeping better, concentrating more. Soon, I had completely switched to a ketogenic diet after watching multiple YouTube videos about how good it is for the system.

When friends questioned my increasingly strange eating habits, I told them I was treating my IBS by cutting out all irritant foods. Then, I just pretended not to see their concerned glances.

In my time suffering with my eating disorder, I have found that the minute I start to bend the truth, my eating disorder is rearing its ugly head.

Indeed, my focus had very quickly strayed from the physical health benefits and the spiritual growth that was particularly pushed by the 12-step program, to the weight I was losing as a result of cutting out so many food groups.

Without even realizing it, my eating disorder had taken full control of my mind in a moment where I was truly convinced I was at my most “health conscious”.

Figures – it’s kind of what eating disorders do.

A dangerous line

Eating disorders begin for all sorts of reasons. Nevertheless, aggressive dieting is a valid trigger for both the beginning of an eating disorder and a relapse.

But it is truly so easy to do, especially in this day and age where Instagram and YouTube have joined in by spouting the newest super healthy diet trend at us. Social media means we see more of diet culture more often.

First, you wonder which fad is true. Then, you wonder which diet to follow. Yet, what we all should  be asking ourselves is why we’re allowing (often sponsored) posts to dictate our eating habits.

I am not a sugar addict. I just really like chocolate bars. Most people do, that’s fine!

These social media endorsed cookbooks and meal plans and workout plans can push us to feel like what we are doing is wrong. Or not enough. Or could be improved.

What I have realized is that as long as I wake up every day and fight my eating disorder and fight the thoughts that tell me I am not good enough, or could do better, or could just tweak that one thing, I am always doing more than enough.

In fact, I am doing about my best. And so are you.

Now, I eat what I want. Some days that is high protein. Other days I have less sugar. Some days it is meatless. These aren’t things I’m trying for and they are not rules. They are just meals and foods that truly make me happy; nourishing body and soul.

If there’s no medical reason for the strict rules you are applying to your eating habits -just walk away. Eating disorders love rules. They love giving you a reason to be right or wrong. And they will usually answer with the latter.

What starts as a “health kick” can be a dangerous game. Avoid playing.

You are beautiful and healthy just as you are.

Plus, why not eat cake on your birthday?

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