Thursday, 8 October 2015

THOUGHTS ON: (Un) Healthy Eating


Good day to you my friend.

On Monday I shared with you my current favourite breakfasts and today we'll be talking about food again... because I need to acknowledge that food can feel both like a blessing and a curse, depending on where you stand.

This post started because I realised I'd bought my second healthy eating book this month and this immediately signalled a red flag in my mind.

Anyone who's ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder or has experienced (as in my case) a less severe period of unhealthy eating habits will know what that red flag feels like. 

If you are one of those people, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING POST WITH CAUTION as I do not want to trigger you

I feel nervous writing about this subject because I know healthy eating is having a real "moment" right now; I hope I can communicate that while I know "healthy" food can be great, there is cause for concern when we take a healthy choice and apply an unhealthy attitude.

I am not trying to pretend I am any kind of expert... But I've not seen much discussion on this subject online and today I'd love it if we could simply try and begin a conversation.

Today I'm going to tell you about the 2013 Me... I was in my second year of university, I was utterly heartbroken for the first time in my adult life and pole fitness became my refuge.

Eagle-eyed Snapchat followers will know already that I still adore pole; but back then, I was obsessed. In my second semester, I went multiple times a week; sometimes twice a day. I began feeling obsessed with eating "healthily" to try and improve my fitness for pole. I also found that I learnt quickly and was delighted that this was the only sport I'd ever tried that I had any kind of natural aptitude for.

Fellow pole fitness folks can tell you that pole comes with a lot of attention (most of it wholly unwelcome) and for the first time, awkward, health-averse Anna was being told she looked so healthy, so strong and most of all, so slim.

Slim... Skinny... Thin... Healthy... "Well"... They're spelt differently, but in this context, they're all synonymous and they're all meant to be compliments.

And yet, despite outwards appearances and my lower weight, I wasn't healthy and I wasn't happy.

My body had become something that needed to be controlled. You've heard the saying, "Strong, not skinny"? It's incredibly toxic but I had no idea at the time... I thought that lots of exercise, endless salads and weight loss meant that I was doing something right.

In reality I was pushing my body to almost beyond its limits and my mental health was far from great.

Nowadays I generally feel happy about my relationship with food (and exercise too), but it's an issue that could affect me at any time. In periods of stress or unhappiness I have had to train myself to try and keep eating regularly, even when I don't feel like it, and thankfully 99% of the time I don't even worry about what I eat.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because I am almost entirely certain you know this feeling already.

You know that society has taught us that skinny = good and fat = bad, even though they are simply adjectives.

You know this pressure that we all feel, to showcase how nutritiously we eat and how frequently we exercise, almost as if we have to prove our worth through our health.

You might even agree with me that if you are a woman, your body is not just your own, but is there to be measured and compared and above all judged.

I know I've felt this pressure and I've given into it as well.

Eat chia seeds if you like them. Drink smoothies if you think they are cool. Go for a run if that is what you enjoy doing.

But please know that you do not have to do any of those things.

A photo posted by Anna (@byhermirror) on

You are still a wonderful person, worthy of kindness and love, no matter what you look like, or how "healthy" you are. You are more than your body and you are more than our ridiculous cultural standards.

I've written this post because I am tired of conversations about women being beautiful and deserving of love being started mostly by men (grinds teeth at Dove, its owner Unilever and every member of One Direction, amongst others).

I'm also tired of us not being able to enjoy our lives because someone else says we should be comparing ourselves and worrying about how we appear on the outside.

What is inside you is what matters the most and I know that it is worth more than solid gold.

As I said, I am no expert... So if you read this post and feel that something is problematic, please speak up; this is a two way conversation after all. 

This post was very much influenced by some wonderful women; if you would like to hear how the best do it, please check out Anastasia Amour, Call Your Girlfriend and Meghan Tonjes... And I would love to find out what you guys think about this topic... Do you feel the pressure? How do you find ways to get past it? On a totally selfish level I really want to know!


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