Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog
Healthy & Balanced Living Means Freeing up, Not Feeling Pressured

Healthy & Balanced Living Means Freeing up, Not Feeling Pressured

We live in a society in which balance isn’t often a word that gets integrated into daily existence. Most everything that we are exposed to encourages us to be perfect and therefore out of balance: the perfect student, perfect worker and have the perfect body. Look at what is promoted on television in programs such as The Biggest Loser—perfection in both body ideal and performance, and not having that means that there is something wrong with you. Unfortunately, our culture is currently lacking in clarification of what a balanced life looks like. There are so few good examples of balance in our society. Parents of preschoolers worry about college, there are even waiting lists for “good” preschools. Everything is about achieving perfection, and shooting for a bar that is forever being moved higher. Often eating disorder clients are living with this level of complex anxiety, related to simply living, breathing, and existing. It is hard not to get trapped as women, as parents, and as people. Jumping on the bandwagon trying to meet these extreme expectations, wanting to get off, but not knowing how. This is why balanced living is so hard to define. In our society, we lack a clear definition of what healthy balance is in life or even in food. Eating and gorging are extremes and represent a lack of balance. Dieting in the media is extreme and so is the promotion of health. An example of this is orthorexia. Orthorexia is the extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods that are perceived to be unhealthy. It is the obsession with what is “normal”, and this obsession makes food unhealthy by definition. Again, an extreme. Food should be neutral. Hyper-vigilance of food, and the preoccupation with the calories in it or where it is grown isn’t healthy. There is so much stress wrapped up around the choosing of food, even for some people who aren’t considered to have an eating disorder. No wonder it becomes so challenging to make confident choices and decisions about food. Our lifestyles have become extreme. No time to cook, and settling for quick meals because we have no time. Food strays away from being neutral to being something that must be either rejected or over emphasized. Emotionally eating or not eating. Food is no longer neutral, but a way to replace something else in our lives. Not a fuel, but a replacement for a relationship, to feel bad or feel better. Exercise is another battle with extremes. Finding balance is not choosing a healthy activity, such as yoga, and then practicing it 10 times a day. It is very important for someone with an eating disorder to learn to recognize what “normal is”. Not what is a good food, or a bad food. But what a fresh, delicious, healthy meal looks like. And that one cookie, or two, for dessert every now and again is part of a healthy, enjoyable diet. A normalized diet, a diet of balance. At Castlewood we shy away from rigid dietary “exchange” systems. This rigidity can lead to pressure: the pressure of the “perfect meal.” At Castlewood, we work very hard with our clients to help them achieve balance. Some important challenges we can all learn from:
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Developing awareness of our surroundings
  • Looking into fears and beliefs that push us to extremes
Too much of any one part of life isn’t balance. Balanced meals means enjoyment. Balanced exercise should be fun, not fearful. Balance means connecting to one’s body, not disconnecting. Freeing up, and not feeling pressured each minute of each day. March is National Nutrition Month, and a very good time to stop and try to understand ways in which we keep ourselves from finding health and balance in our lives. Good medicine for both clients and clinicians!

1 Comment

  • S.B. says:

    Although a goal was presented to me when learning how not to be a human-machine instead of a human-being, that is to strive towards about 30% work! about 30% social and 30% leisure….your words ring so true pertaining to expectations and pressure to perform more and more…being robotic, I find, doing doing doing, is rewarded, yet it feeds into my ED, and the vicious cycle you present that bombards my thoughts over and over again each day… Personally, I wish this could be blasted across major media TV. But thank you for the efforts you make.