July 21, 2011

The Dark Side of "Healthy" Blogging

Healthy living blogs have a lot of positive qualities. I've met great people, have an outlet to share my story, and they opened up my life to cooking.

But they have a dark side. A side that uses healthy eating as a rouse to cover up obsession. No, I'm not talking about any one person in particular, and I'm not saying that healthy eating automatically equates to obsession, but for me, it did.

Healthy living blogs introduced me to the world of 40 calorie almond milk; chia seeds that I could steep in said almond milk and create a putrid "pudding"; adding flax eggs instead or real eggs, applesauce or pumpkin instead of butter, and always whole grain flours instead of fluffy AP flour; working out multiple times a day because once a day never seemed good enough.

In my opinion, healthy living bloggers were among the healthiest people in the world. I wanted to be like them. So I did all of that - switched my milk, made substitutions to have "healthier" desserts, worked out like a maniac, and even tried to convince myself that I needed to go gluten free because so many bloggers were doing it.

Is this healthy? No.

Do I see it a lot in the blog world? Yes.

It took me a long time to accept that what I was doing was extremely unhealthy. It took a period of binge eating and trying to find what makes me happy in order to come to where I am now. And where I am is wonderful - I'm using real oils to saute instead of zero calorie sprays (do it, it tastes world's better), eating egg yolks without a concern for (my non-existent) high cholesterol, and moaning in pleasure over a hearty slab of tiramisu.

I still drink almond milk and use things like cacao nibs, flax, and whole grains. The difference is that now I know that I'm consuming these things because I like them, and not because I think they're healthy for me.

Here are a list of a few tips that helped me. If you're catching yourself in the blog comparison game, or you're becoming obsessed with healthy eating to the point where eating even a bite of cake nearly gives you a panic attack, then I hope these will help you, too.

1. If you read blogs that trigger you, remove them from your google reader. Removing that temptation will help you, believe me. If the blog isn't staring you in the face every day, you'll be less tempted to seek it out to read it.

2. Look at one thing in your kitchen that you deem "healthy" or something that you've seen frequently in the blog world. Evaluate why you're buying it and eating it. Do you genuinely like the taste, or do you buy it because you think it's healthy? If you find out that it's because of the latter, then maybe try to buy something that you do like instead.

3. Don't kill yourself with exercise. I know that you read bloggers who do HIIT, a run, and yoga all in one day, but you don't have to do that. I only exercise once a day, without killing myself, and I feel great. Don't think that you need to keep up with these bloggers to be healthy or fit - you don't. And take rest days - by that I mean doing no exercise for one whole day - because your body, and mind, deserve it.

4. Meditate. I do 5 minutes of meditation a day (or as often as I remember to) and repeat a mantra that is special to me. It helps me focus and feel happy and at peace. Create a mantra that is special to you and repeat it as you meditate.

5. Remember, you are beautiful. You deserve to give your body, your mind, and your stomach respect.

Bottom line is: Eating a chocolate chip cookie will not make you fat. Not running 10 miles today won't make you lose all of your endurance. If you don't buy chia seeds then you won't be void of omega-3s. Don't let "healthy living blogs" consume you - life is so much more than a website. So, so much more.

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