I usually am pretty vocal about the things that I'm passionate about, but I have purposefully have kept quiet about one of them that hits close to home. I either have been 1) too embarrassed 2) unsure how to share or 3) didn't feel a sure calling to share publicly via social media. But the truth is, I care so much about others I see struggling, because of what I walked through in the past. And lately, I've been reminded of the several years I walked through disordered eating. I have seen it in people around me, in people unaware they're trapped in it and have felt with some of my loved ones and brides.
So when Ashleigh reached out to me about guest blogging, I felt it was the right fit for what's been on my heart. I desire for others to read these myths she's debunking on my blog today. I desire for others to feel freedom from the bondage they may feel to food. And I desire for my brides to feel confident and beautiful as they prepare not just for their wedding days--but forever.
Thank you so much Ashleigh for your wisdom, heart and willingness to help others!
Good morning LDP family! Big thanks to Lindsay for letting me take over the blog today. I love the brand and community she has created, and I am stoked to share with y’all a little bit about where my heart is and how it relates to YOU!
Let me introduce myself: My name is Ashleigh Partin, and I am a Registered Dietitian living and working in west Texas. Before your eyes get hung up on the word “diet” in my title and you assume you know what I’m here to say, take a deep breath and give me a chance to prove you wrong! I own a private practice, Ashleigh Partin Nutrition, where I specialize in nutrition counseling for eating disorders and disordered eating. I proudly denounce all things diet, and I work with my clients to relearn how to use their bodies’ internal cues to guide their eating. I firmly believe all foods (yes, ALL foods) can fit into a healthy life.
This week, February 26th through March 2nd, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I could talk all day long about eating disorders (just ask my husband), but I have a few specific myths that I want to bust with you guys. I know y’all have jobs to do and families to take care of and weddings to plan, so let’s jump right in.
MYTH #1: I am not sick/thin/small enough to deserve help.
TRUTH: Do not be held captive by this lie!! First of all, NO ONE can identify an eating disorder simply by looking at a person. When I say eating disorder (I’m going to start using ED to abbreviate), your mind probably goes straight to a very thin, emaciated white teenage female. While this CAN be an image of someone with an ED, it is only the tip of the iceberg. EDs occur in petite frames and broad frames, small bodies and large bodies, men and women. And even outside of the diagnosable EDs, there is a whole spectrum of disordered eating that needs to be addressed as well. To put it simply, if guilt and shame over food or body image are affecting your life, YOU DESERVE HELP!
MYTH #2: This is normal.
TRUTH: Excuse me while I leap through my computer to grab you by the shoulders and say DO NOT BELIEVE THIS SHAM! Diet culture has normalized so many unhealthy, dangerous behaviors, and just the thought of this gets my blood boiling (not just a mild simmer, more like full on ready-to-pour-over-your-ramen-boiling). Let me speak to the brides-to-be here for just a sec: Do NOT let your wedding day be overshadowed by dieting or body shame. While I absolutely want you to feel good and be confident, that comes from loving and taking care of yourself, NOT from a certain dress size or a number on the scale. You should be able to look back in ten years and remember the joy of your first kiss as husband or wife, not the fear of eating your own cake at your reception or the anxiety over buttoning those last buttons on your dress (side note – You are not meant to fit a dress; your dress is meant to fit you!!). Moral of the story: EDs and disordered eating are not normal, and there are people (like me!) trained to help you overcome your struggles!
MYTH #3: Anything worth doing is difficult. It’ll be okay as long as I lose weight.
TRUTH: Hark the herald angels singing NO NO NO NO NO. EDs are incredibly dangerous. Some of the common health consequences of EDs include fatigue, hair loss, poor skin quality, muscle wasting, and heart failure. EDs actually have the highest fatality rate of ANY psychiatric illness. Let that sink in. Whether you are in a full-blown ED or somewhere on the spectrum of disordered eating, seek out help! Losing weight or fitting into a dress may seem worth the world to you now, but I promise, they are NOT worth your health or your life. Do I sound too harsh? Are you thinking that I probably need to take a chill pill and not be so hard on diets? I beg to differ. Want to know the #1 precursor to an ED? Any guesses? DIETING.
MYTH #4: If I abandon my rules, my weight will spiral out of control.
TRUTH: If you have been living with restrictive food rules and forcing your body to a lower weight than is appropriate for you, then yes, giving up your food rules may include weight gain. In other cases, abandoning food rules may lead to weight loss or no weight change. I like to explain to my clients that my goal is to help them find their “natural body size”, the size they are able to comfortably maintain. This means the weight where your body rests (usually a 10-15 pound range – scientific term is set-point weight) when you eat and move intuitively. Your body is wicked smart, and when you start trusting it, you will find a far more peaceful, complete form of health than dieting could ever provide you.
I hope that this post challenges you to think about your own food behaviors. If you identify with any of the myths above, please do not feel foolish. When it comes to figuring out how to eat and take care of your body, I think a quote by Maya Angelou says it perfectly: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” If it is time for you to start doing better, here are some resources that you might find helpful:
Ashleigh Partin Nutrition, LLC
*Located in Midland, TX, and taking long-distance virtual clients on a case-by-case basis. Please call for more information.
National Eating Disorders Association
Helpline: (800) 931-2237
Find an Eating Disorder Dietitian in your area: http://www.eddietitians.com/treatment-finder/
*Disclaimer: This post is intended for the public and is not meant to replace professional treatment. The goal of this post is to increase awareness of eating disorders and provide resources for struggling individuals to seek appropriate care.