The Link Between Dieting and Eating Disorders Is Too Strong to Ignore
While I don’t often eat meat, I’m also not a vegetarian. In fact, you’ll see me eat some form of meat at least twice a week. But the point of this blab is to mention that steak is never a preference. So, when I found myself at an Argentinian restaurant one weekend, I knew well enough to make sure I bulked up on appetizers.
When the awaited deluxe platter arrived, among the four pounds of prime sirloin and rib-eye steak, something else caught my eye. I was drawn to scooping out a spoon full of a minced black concoction and adding it to my plate. YUM! It hit the spot. Seeing how much I enjoy it, my friend said she better not tell me what it was. As I’m quite indifferent to what unusual “delicacy” I put in my mouth, I responded that whatever it was, I was going in for seconds. It turns out, what I was so happily savoring along with my glass of red (okay, three glasses…) was black pudding, a type of blood sausage made out of pork blood and fat.
Was it a coincidence that even after all of those appetizers, my sight and scent were aroused by something that almost got lost in between all the meat?
As a preacher of “our bodies know exactly what they’re doing,” I consider the answer to be no. I was on the second day of my period, so I believe that the benefit I was about to reap from some extra blood to compensate for the outflow (sorry for the TMI!) led to an inner cue that was outside my cognition or control.
As a matter of fact, for centuries, humans have relied on internal drives to know when to feed and when to stop.
Yet, today, we allow and enable the marketing industry to make us distrust our most primal behavior for survival. Buying into messages around healthy eating and portion control means we no longer trust our innate ability to feed. But letting thinness-obsessed external forces dictate our portioning leads to restriction.
…So this is when I put my eating disorder advocacy hat on.
While restrictive eating doesn’t always result in an eating disorder, the link between dieting and eating disorders is simply too strong to ignore. An innocent desire to eat more healthily or a naïve decision to lose weight can propel a genetically predisposed individual into a lifetime consumed by decisions around food and weight. Under the eating disorder treatment light, portion control plates encourage restriction, can lead to binge eating, and promote the assumptions and behaviors that only work to reinforce those illnesses.
Back in July, Macy’s removed portion control plates from their shelves after getting backlash. On top of normalizing disordered eating (by promoting the manipulation of our bodies’ signals), in using the association of “skinny jeans” vs. “mom jeans” in the design, Macy’s was cornering women into feeling shame for eating to fulfill their appetites, while safeguarding the indoctrinated desire for thinness.
As brands continue to adopt body positivity and the voices celebrating all bodies continue to spread their missions, we as consumers must be mindful not to preserve the passé pressures of our culture around thinness.
The removal of the plates shows an exemplary initiative and success from consumers speaking up. With that in mind, I invite everyone (myself included) to take this post as a reminder to stop falling victim to marketing scams from brands that capitalize on the message that our bodies and appetites are things we must strive to control and suppress.
(As published on www.thecoversationalist.com)