Disordered Behaviors in Disguise?

You’ve probably heard about the Marie Claire food blogger cluster#!@# making its way across the blogosphere. Since it was my birthday weekend and I was generally offline, I didn’t hear about it til Carla (MizFit) told me about what had happened. And my feelings are mixed.

Here’s the article, The Hunger Diaries.

The article itself is clearly very biased from the get-go. I’ve blogged in the past about how I wonder if sometimes food bloggers mask disordered behaviors, so I don’t entirely disagree that some behaviors of  healthy living bloggers could be viewed as disordered — especially if the anecdotes the writer shared are, indeed, true.

Let’s be real here: shrouding or destroying food IS disordered behavior, regardless of context. I call them like I see them; been there, done that … I know it when I see it.

And while I never really lumped any of those specific blogs into the category, I’ve wondered myself: is taking pictures of every morsel you eat (or 10 pics of the same bowl of food) “normal?” Is exercising the way some bloggers do normal … or excessive? I think there’s a fine line in the sand between obsessiveness and a job.

And I think it depends on the readers’ perspective how “disordered” they view things.

I know that these women are paid to write about what they eat and how much they exercise; for some, it’s their job. So it’s arguably not an easy call to make, the distinction between obsessiveness and work.

That said, I admit sometimes I’ve read what these girls (who I do read and love) eat and how much they exercise and feel like I fall short or might even get a little envious of their lifestyle (getting paid to be fit). But they worked hard for what they’ve achieved, and I’d never begrudge them that.

I also admit I’ve had to take some time away from even these blogs I love because I found them to be triggering when I was at my worst.

But for the most part, I think these blogs in particular promote a healthy balance (some more than others — and I like when the bloggers have themselves addressed their own realizations about maybe becoming obsessive).I still say perspective is everything. If I were in weight-loss mode, or training mode, or recovery mode … I’d steer clear of some or latch on to others. They CAN be triggering … or inspirational.

I continue to read blogs like these because I have learned a lot about new products and ways of doing things from reading them, and if/when I find them to be triggering again, I’d stop.

I’ve read the bloggers’ responses and I feel bad for them because it’s obvious some of their words were taken out of context, or the frame of reference was just enough off to make what they said appear differently than intended.

Ultimately, I think it’s up to readers to make their own decisions about what is disordered or isn’t. Sometimes I’ll read one of their posts and think, “That’s all she ate today and she ran X miles?!” but then other days, you realize they have found (what I hope is) a natural rhythm to hunger and satiation. I envy intuitive eaters — if that’s, indeed,what they are.

I do think this article has opened a can of worms … and at the very least, maybe a positive discussion can come out of it. I’m just sorry it’s at the expense of some really cool women who have made names for themselves in the blogosphere.

[Updated to add, this article at Hollaback rocks, as does this at Jezebel.]

What do you think? Do you find these blogs beneficial and inspiring, or does it depend on where you’re at in your recovery?

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10 thoughts on “Disordered Behaviors in Disguise?

  1. I certainly don’t disagree with the concept of the article; it’s just a shame that it was written in such poor taste. If that was the article the reporter wanted to write, she should have gone about it in a different way.

    As a former marathoner and half-Ironman triathlon athlete, I don’t consider the endurance lifestyle (e.g. training for long race after long race) normal at all. It is fanatical and it can be downright unhealthy. I can see that so clearly, but I worry that other women who read some of those blogs feel that they can’t be “healthy” until they can live like that.

    1. I’m so glad to hear you say that~ When I read about some of these vigorous training schedules, I just DON’T get it. To me, that level of commitment would take the sheer pleasure I get from working out and destroy it. I read an article in Shape or Self — forget which — where the woman was physically addicted to races, ran a 110 mile race or something crazy, got badly hurt,kept going, and ended up not being able to run for a LONG time. It was abusive. Just because you CAN doesn’t always mean you SHOULD.

      That said, I’m proud of my friends who have trained for 5Ks, 10Ks, 1/2 marathons, marathons … I just will never be part of that competitive set; it’s not in my DNA and I see how (not for them but for others) it can be taken to the extremes.

  2. I mostly avoid these blogs, I find them to be obsessive. I can find people obsessed everywhere in my own family, don’t need to search them out. It’s very boring to see what they eat, as well. I know how uptight I get when something interferes with my exercise, I don’t need others to try to persuade me it’s normal. I go to the gym with a guy who ran 100 mile race. I’m glad he enjoys it. I’m glad he has the time and health to attend 6 gym classes/day, I think he looks terrible and unhealthy, but I’m not his wife.

  3. Thanks for posting about this, as I hadn’t read the article and don’t often read any of the blogs mentioned. It was interesting to read the article and then look up the blogs, because the blogs seem much less, um, extreme, than the article says they are. The post made it sound like the bloggers were completely disordered in their habits, which just doesn’t seem fair. In looking up the blogs, it appears that the authors are just trying to live life and find what works best for them, which is what most of the world is trying to do! :0)

  4. ok so Ive avoided this after about tuesday 🙂 but Ive heard people talking about the fact the journalist had an eating disorder at one point.

    did I miss that in the original article?

    or was it not stated there?

    1. it’s true, the journalist had her own blog and used to discuss it freely online. but it wasn’t brought into the article.

  5. I think the article was definitely one sided and nit picked to push the journalists point of view.
    If she did in fact have an eating disorder like @MizFit mentioned, then I can see where her preconceived ideas are coming from.
    As someone who has been recovered from an eating disorder, I probably would find these blogs triggering to some extent, and so I do tend to steer away from them. However, that may not be true for everyone. They certainly do promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
    Also, Caitlin is the owner of a great site and movement – Operation Beautiful – which is all about challenging negative self image and disordered thinking. This should have been mentioned by the journalist.

  6. Met my now-husband; graduated college; endured 9/11 and its aftermath with the rest of the world (I was in NYC on 9/11 and lived in DC at the time); finished grad school; moved to El Salvador to teach English; dealt with long-distance international relationship for five years; visited my sister in London; joined Weight Watchers; got healthy (and then obsessive); got a new job; made it through my now-husband’s Iraq deployment; got engaged in Italy; lost my best male friend from college to cancer; left D.C. and moved to Michigan; got married to my college sweetie; got a new job (where I work now); saw a Real Madrid game in Madrid; began blogging and therapy to help me recover from disordered eating issues; gained a little weight back; made new friends, strengthened old ones, and lost some along the way; turned 30 …

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