You + Food: The Relationship you Never Realized you Had

BY SAMANTHA MANDICH

In today’s society, it seems as though there are more diet fads than there are fashion fads with all of the detoxes, Weight Watchers, and the South Beach Diet.

I know people who go through diets on a weekly basis. On Monday they are on an all-liquid diet and by Friday they have switched to eating for their blood type.

Society has instilled in people’s minds that there is a certain way to look and there is a “magic” way to achieve that look. Many of these ways are dangerous and unhealthy because most people are so eager to get this desired look in the shortest amount of time possible.

We live in a world that is ruled by food, whether we are eating too much of it or not enough. Powerful women in society are not judged on what they have accomplished, but by how they look, how much they weigh, whether or not they have gained or lost weight recently, or what they have done to enact such changes.

As a fashion major and enthusiast, I have witnessed first-hand the way that the industry can so strongly affect a person’s relationship with food. Models, especially runway or high fashion, are known for being stick skinny and if they are not up to the standards of the certain designer or photographer, they won’t get jobs. Agencies will openly tell a model that she is not skinny enough and needs to lose weight, which only increases the number of people who have an unhealthy relationship with food.

Eating disorders are becoming increasingly common: According to the National Eating Disorders Organization, 30 million people suffer from eating disorders in the United States – 20 million women and 10 million men.

The organization states on its website, “By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. Forty to 60 percent of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.”

This statistic is a horrifying realization that we live in a society where at such a young age, individuals are already concerned with their food intake and body image.

Personally, I have struggled with my body image for a very long time. Lacking in the chest area, a little extra in the thighs and stomach, I always felt out of proportion. I’ve tried certain workouts, diets and cleanses.

Like so many others, I let food rule my life by counting calories, taking diet supplement pills, or eating whatever was the new popular healthy food. I don’t think I understood my body until I fully understood food.

What tastes the best is usually what is unhealthy for you. Things like fast food, candy and junk food – they are all convenient and delicious, but end up leaving you more hungry and less energetic.

I realized that I didn’t have to rule out all bad foods, I just had to portion them and limit myself. I found as many foods that I could that were good for me and that I enjoy, and mix them in with a little of the more unhealthy things that I craved. After exploring new recipes and new foods, I discovered things I loved, like hummus and Greek yogurt, that were nutritious and also changed my mentality that unhealthy has to taste better than healthy.

I think it is most important to set realistic goals for yourself and learn to love your body. Don’t go on diets that you know you will not be able to stick to, especially ones that are bad for your health or you don’t enjoy. Find a routine involving exercise and food choice that will work for you and really benefit you in a positive way. This is how I realized that having a healthy and loving relationship with food is the first step in having a healthy and loving relationship with your body.

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