MHM 7/25/16: Am I disordered for wanting to eat healthy?

July 25, 2016 in Balance / Recovery

Hi guys and happy Monday! Hope you all enjoyed your weekends. Going to be linking up with Julia today for another Mental Health Monday!

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“Am I disordered for wanting to eat healthy?” A lot of people have asked me this question, and I have asked myself this many times as well. “Does it make me disordered if I want a quinoa salad for dinner and vegan ice cream instead of regular ice cream for dessert? Is it okay for me to want to eat food full with nutrients so I feel good?” These are just some examples of different things people have asked me. The thing is there is no right or wrong answer. I’m just going to be sharing my thoughts on this with y’all and I am not saying I am 100% right- I’m just a 19 year old blogger conveying some thoughts on my mind that will probably spill out like a word vomit. So let’s just dive right on in.

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“Old ways won’t open new doors.” 

The thing is, whole foods trips make me as happy as a clam. Acai bowls and smoothies make me smile from ear to ear and having big bowls of oatmeal with globs of nut butter and banana makes for a happy Lyss. Seeing new granola and cereals at health stores or Japanese sweet potatoes the size of my hand results in me dancing like a 5 year-old in a candy store. But does it make me disordered for liking all these things? Am I considered disordered for choosing Love Grown cereal over Lucky Charms and Earth Balance coconut peanut butter over Skippy peanut butter? I don’t think so.

The thing is, eating foods full of nutrients makes us feel great. That’s a given-we all know that eating our fruits and veggies is important. But taken from the view of someone who has struggled with extremes, we can’t take things too far on either spectrum. I was full-blown orthorexic for a year, and the year after I didn’t care what was going into my body as long as it came right out and I felt empty (where the laxative abuse started to come into full-swing). Following residential treatment where I was fed pretty normal food and snacks (grilled cheese’s, eggo waffles, pizza, goldfish, ravioli, quaker oatmeal, teddy graham’s, etc) I swore to myself that I had to stick to this type of eating and that if I went into Whole Food’s and got something as simple as flax seed crackers, I would go on a downward spiral and lose all the progress I made. I was stuck in black and white thinking, and it took me several months to get out of it and actually enter a Whole Food’s again. I remember telling my mom that I didn’t want to be afraid of anything. I conveyed to her that I never wanted to become obsessed with healthy eating again, but that I did want to branch out from what I was eating and add variety to my diet.

And after that Whole Food’s trip that I was so afraid of, I didn’t become hooked on healthy eating and infatuated with it. The variety in my diet expanded and it led to more food freedom. Fast forward almost three years from that day, and I can tell you that I adore Whole Foods and even though it can add up sometimes, I love allll their stuff. And their salad bar/hot bar. Another thing I can tell you? I really do love putting good, nutrient filled food into my body. Because I think we should all give our bodies good food and treat it with respect. But does that make me disordered? No. And here’s why I think that: I am an advocate in fueling your body with wholesome foods, but I am also an advocate in fueling your body what it craves. And sometimes that isn’t foods with all the nutrients. That’s okay because nothing is off limits! That is the huge difference between my mindset now and my mindset in the past. I don’t label treats as “bad” and a salad as “good.” I label it food- some filled with nutrients for my body and others filled with nutrients for my soul. You see what I’m sayin’? You catchin’ my drift?!

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“Soon, when all is well, you’re going to look back on this period of your life and be so glad that you never gave up.” 

What I do considered disordered is putting food off limits. Because when we do that, we feel deprived and we take away that healthy relationship with food we should have. If I say I can’t have a cookie because it isn’t “healthy” and filled with nutrients, I am not even thinking about whether or not I actually even want the cookie. I am fixated on how healthy the foods I eat are and disconnecting myself from what my body is telling me. If I am afraid of food besides kale salads, banana nice cream, etc. then I think my desire to want to eat healthy is driven by the fact that I am afraid of putting less nutrient dense food into my body because I believe that food to be “bad.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to fuel your body with all the fruits, veggies, healthy fats (coconut oil and nut butter aka my loves), grains, etc.; but what is wrong is when you deny yourself of certain things because of this extreme desire for health. Because in that desire to be pure and nothing but healthy, you end up losing that good mental health along the way. And we all know that is also essential for our well-being. 

So yes, sometimes I do want all the acai bowls and huge salads from Whole Foods, but having those foods doesn’t make me disordered. I genuinely enjoy them and they make me feel gooood! But you know what too? McDonald’s ice cream cones and smores make me feel pretty dang good too. It’s all about finding your balance, which is so freakin’ hard- I know!! But I also know you all can do it, because it is possible. Your bodies are one powerful tool, and it’s so essential that we keep listening to them! And I’ll meet you all somewhere between an acai bowl and an ice cream cone, because I think that’s the best place to stand: right in the middle of it all. That’s where it’s the most comfortable. 🙂

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“Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it faith. Feed it truth. Feed it with love.” 

No questions for today, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Have a wonderful Monday friends!! Have an amazing day <3

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30 Comments

  • Reply Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It July 25, 2016 at 10:26 am

    This is such a great post, love!! I’ve always felt weary about this when I’m out with family or friends. I always crave healthier and fresh foods, but then I always get nervous that people will judge me for it and say, ‘oh she’s still not recovered.’ But then they’ve also seen me willingly eat pizza, cake, and ice cream which I NEVER would have touched 3 years ago. I’m right there with ya in the middle of ice cream and an acai bowl too! 😉 Have a good Monday! xoxo
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:23 am

      Thank you SO much Marina!! I used to feel the same way and feel like I had to prove myself to my parents that I was fine around food by not ordering a salad. But now I know that eating what makes me feel good is not disordered at ALL! And eating what we crave is totally fine. Thank you for reading love!! xoxo <3
      Alyssa recently posted…Day in the life Video: 7/25/16My Profile

  • Reply kat July 25, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to eat healthier foods. Obviously it can get out of hand when you become obsessive about it, but I live my life eating 90% whole, healthy foods. That doesn’t mean that I dont still want a real, white sugar-filled piece of cake every now and again [or like, every week 😉 ]
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:21 am

      Yes- totally agree girl! Eating nutrient filled food is totally fine and it makes us feel sooo good but we should never pass up on things we love and things we crave!!

  • Reply Michelle July 25, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I completely agree with you. I love healthy foods like salad, veggies, acai bowls and all that jazz but, I also do love ice cream, pizza, and other so called unhealthy foods. Some foods may have more nutritional value than the others but it’s not the foods themselves that are unhealthy but our mindset towards them. Like you said, we need to treat food as food and drop the good and bad labels. Depriving ourselves of these foods is what is disordered, not the fact that you may choose to eat them more moderately.
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:20 am

      YES! Totally agree that it is our mindset around those foods that is unhealthy. Thank you for reading Michelle and sharing your thoughts on this!

  • Reply Kate July 25, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Interesting topic!
    I think whole foods and nutritious foods are fun and delicious. They make us feel great and once we are used to eating them, they taste better than anything packaged.
    For me, what’s disordered is not being able to eat certain foods, like you said “off limits”. If I am at a cookout and the only option is a hamburger or hotdog, I eat it. My disordered self would have refused either. Now, I eat all the foods, but stick to a lot of nutritious because I love them and they make me feel good!
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:20 am

      I sooo agree that it is disordered to not let yourself eat certain foods. Being flexible around food is key and being open to new situations regardless of the food they’re serving there is part of life! Thank you for your thoughts on this Kate!<3

  • Reply Caroline July 25, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    This is awesome. I identify with this so much and on so many levels. Sometimes I worry that because I like a lot of foods deemed “healthy” that I’m doing something wrong or I’m not really overcoming my disorder. When in reality, any over-fixation on food, be it nutrient-dense for the body or soul, is what’s unhealthy. There is so much freedom to be found from the grip of food and an ED! Thanks for spreading that love and freedom, girl! xoxo
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:17 am

      Yes, the over-fixation on food is so unhealthy. Couldn’t agree more with you on that! Thank YOU for the love and support. I’m so grateful for you Caroline!

  • Reply Trine July 25, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Lyss, words can’t express how much I love this post and how relatable it is. This thought often crosses my mind and it makes me glad to hear that I’m not the only one. Recovery isn’t about proving yourself by eating only things like pop tarts, pints of ice cream, or pizza.. it’s about eating a variety of foods that you TRULY like and that make you feel good. I know that for me, I love roasted veggies and could have them every day. I have had to stop myself and think, “Am I having these because they’re deemed ‘healthy’ and safe for me, or am I having them because they are sooo yummy to me?” It’s really important to be aware of both your mind and your body. It can be very tricky sometimes.

    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Yesss totally agree that no one in recovery or who is recovered should feel the need to prove themselves by eating certain things! It really is important to be aware of the thoughts surrounding why you want something. Thank you so much for your sweet words and reading Trine!!
      Alyssa recently posted…Day in the life Video: 7/25/16My Profile

  • Reply Emily July 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I totally agree with this, and I fell into that for a while. I didn’t want to put salads on my Instagram because it seemed disordered. But God made lettuce and veggies just as much as He made the ingredients for ice cream. It’s more of discovering what the mindset is behind why you are eating those things. Are you doing it to take care of our body for God’s glory or to fit into the culture’s definition of ‘healthy?’ I also really agree with Kate, that when I look at something and think, ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t eat that, because it’s off limits,’ then that’s like a disordered thought, idolatrous thought creeping in, and I need to learn to trust God more and not my feelings about certain foods.

    I have been thinking about this a lot, and I’m really grateful you wrote about this.
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:13 am

      Thank you so much Em! I really think it is important to separate and distinguish why you may be eating “healthy” – to take care of our body or to look a certain way. You hit the head on the nail with that point! So agree with what Kate said too, that we should never view food as off limits. Thank you for your input and kind words on this! <3 xoxo
      Alyssa recently posted…Day in the life Video: 7/25/16My Profile

  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot July 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    This is a great topic. I think that if you feel fear toward a certain “off limit” food than its probably disordered. You’re so right about the balance!
    I think certain foods like meat for a vegetarian can still be off limits and not be disordered if for the right reasons.
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:10 am

      Thank you Heather! I agree that if you fear or feel anxious about a food that you deem to be “bad” it is probably disordered! Thank you for reading <3
      Alyssa recently posted…Day in the life Video: 7/25/16My Profile

  • Reply Claire @ My Pink & Green Life July 25, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    LOVE this perspective, Alyssa, it’s so balanced and healthy! We need to nourish our souls, yes–but we need to nourish our bodies too–in a healthy, non-obsessive way. I’ve found that even if I choose to eat a certain way, like right now I’m not eating a lot of dairy because I’ve found it helps my skin, putting a label on myself like “dairy-free” just leads to so much unnecessary stress. Everything in moderation! 🙂
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:07 am

      I agree with the label thing Claire- that does lead to so much unnecessary stress! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts on this <3

  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law July 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    This is such an interesting post! I think healthy eating only becomes a negative thing when your view of “healthy foods” becomes restricting.

    Like saying that healthy foods are only those that don’t contain gluten/grains/sugar/eggs/dairy products etc or that you have to eat to fit a certain pattern or label – or you are so obsessed with eating healthy that you give up things you really want. Like anything, eating is all about balance!

    I eat what most would call a really healthy diet, however, I just eat what I want and what works for my body – and you can be sure that I eat plenty of dessert too! 😉
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:05 am

      Totally agree with what you said Kristy! We should never restrict our bodies of what it wants. And yes to dessert girl! The best 🙂

  • Reply Amanda @ Real Life Recovery Diary July 25, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    SUCH an important post oh my goodness. For the first time in a LONG time the other day, I was out at lunch with my mom and legitimately craved a big salad. And of course my mom wouldn’t let me order it because she thought it was an eating disordered decision. While I understand her concern, I think that there’s a balance and it’s ok to crave “healthy” foods sometimes, especially when we’re further along in recovery and can distinguish the ED voice from our own voice.

    It’s frustrating when people shame us for choosing healthy foods when it’s really what we crave. Because while sometimes I crave veggies, I crave ranch pretzels and brownies just as much! 🙂 It’s definitely a fine line though between eating healthy and disordered eating.
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    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:05 am

      It is such a fine line! And it is totally normal to crave all the veggies sometimes and crave brownies another time- that is what’s so cool about our bodies! They can find that natural rhythm 🙂

  • Reply Caitlin P July 25, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Lyss! Yes!!! You’re perspective and insight is so thoughtful and you communicate your voice so well! Really appreciated this read, and too find myself struggling with this concept throughout my recovery journey. The point you have reached in your journey is such an inspiration to me, thank you!

    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Thank YOU for your kind words Caitlin!! Your support means so much to me <3

  • Reply Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine July 26, 2016 at 1:49 am

    This is a great post and I love your mindset on this. You’re absolutely right that it’s all about how we treat and think of food. I like to think of food like this: good for my body (nutrient-filled foods) and good for my soul (ice cream, etc). It’s all about balance and once you reach a point where food is simply food then I think you’re on the right path.

    • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Thank you so much Catherine! I think having that mindset is so beneficial- fueling our bodies and fueling our souls! 🙂

  • Reply Aubrey Powell July 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I completely feel this post. I have gone through so much questioning and doubt (and continue to) about why I make the food choices I do. You hit the nail on the head when you say that it’s when certain foods become off limits that things get dangerous. I totally agree that wanting to eat nutrient dense foods is not disordered – in fact, it’s great and if done in balance it’s perfect. I will always reserve the right to eat a salad if that’s what I want but I’ll also be damn sure to eat a big piece of cake when I want one too! It is ALL in the balance. Great post!

  • Reply Alyssa July 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Thank you so much for your input and thoughts Aubrey! It is ALL about balance- you got that right girl!! xoxo
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  • Reply sarah July 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Love this post; it is an excellent topic in the recovery world that I feel often goes untalked about. I agree with you, no food should be off limits and food is not “good” or “bad” ( Unless it’s moldy or expired LOL but that is a whole other issue). I think that as long as you are honest with yourself and listening to your body there is nothing wrong with liking the “healthy” option over alternatives. Every one is different and black and white thinking is where we get ourselves into trouble and the disordered thoughts start running rampant.
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