I am afraid that this post might come across as a little cheesy. Just in case you think I am being too dramatic, let me first give you a bit of preparation.
I have never met a woman who does not have some degree of disordered eating. (Most men have disordered eating tendencies as well.) I think this is largely the result of false beliefs presented to us through the media.
At least three times a day, we encounter a choice; we choose to have either a good relationship with food or a bad relationship with food.
If you have a bad relationship with food, and these issues are left unaddressed, it could result in depression, anxiety, body image issues, or a life-threatening eating disorder.
Don’t think that just because you are not in high school, you are not at risk anymore. People of all ages can develop an eating disorder or disordered eating (yes, there is a difference).
So considering this information, take a look at your own life and your own relationship with food.
Quiz: (But first, a disclaimer! I made up this quiz. This is not a professional or psychological quiz in any way, shape, or form. It is just the result of my personally observations of others around me and my experience with an eating disorder. I know these questions have very black and white answers listed. Life is not always this or that, all or nothing, or black and white. Just choose the answer which closely resembles how you feel.)
OK, now close your eyes, be honest with yourself, and think for a few moments after reading each of these questions. Write down the number of the answer: 1), 2), 3), or 4) depending on what is next to your response. Don’t pick the one that you think you “should”; answer how it really is.
Lettuce begin… J
How do you feel when you are about to eat a meal?
1) I’ve never paid attention to how I feel before a meal.
2) Relaxed and looking forward to the dinner conversation
3) Starving! I am glad it’s time to eat because I didn’t eat breakfast/lunch!
4) Anxious about what to eat and how it will make me feel
How do you feel after taking a second helping of dessert?
1) I loved how it tasted…it was so good I had to have another.
2) Satisfied and moving on with the day
3) Guilty. I probably shouldn’t have eating that much dessert.
4) I am planning to work out or make up for the extra calories in some way.
What do you feel like when you are at a restaurant?
1) I scan the menu for something that looks good to me at that time.
2) I always get ______, because it’s my favorite thing to get at restaurants.
3) I scan the menu for a calorie listing, a diet food, low-calorie or low-fat options, or something I think I “should” eat.
4) I eat before I go to a restaurant so I don’t have to order anything.
1) Don’t know
4) All the time
How do you feel when you see a model on a commercial?
1) It is just a commercial, I don’t think too much about it.
2) It doesn’t bother me.
3) I feel a little jealous.
4) I feel like I should try to look like what I see.
1) I think it’s hilarious to see the ridiculous headlines when I am standing in the check-out line.
2) I don’t look at them because they are full of airbrushed people and false articles.
3) They are my source and standard for news, health, and relationships.
4) I can’t help but look at them; however, I always feel inadequate and feel like I have to change myself afterward.
How do you feel when you are around someone thinner or prettier than you?
1) I don’t notice.
2) I acknowledge the other person’s characteristics and marvel at human diversity.
3) I constantly compare my looks and my weight to other people and I wish I was different than I am.
4) I vow to exercise more, eat less, and do other things to “work on” my appearance.
What emotion do you feel when you look in the mirror?
1) I make sure I don’t have toothpaste on my face or crusty eyes and then I’m out the door.
3) Shame or Disgust
4) Nit picking and analyzing everything I see
How many times do you look in the mirror a day?
1) Maybe once or twice
2) Pretty often…at least every time I use the restroom
3) A lot…probably more than 20 times a day
4) Constantly…I can’t stop analyzing my flaws
What if someone said to you right now, “You are so beautiful (or handsome)”?
1) I respond with a “thank you”.
2) That was nice of them to say.
3) They are just saying that to be nice.
4) I come up with a hundred excuses about why I don’t deserve that compliment.
What if someone told you that you don’t need to lose weight?
1) I would say, “That’s for dang sure! What the heck are you talking about?”
2) I wouldn’t say anything, expect maybe “OK…”
3) I would say, “No. I do. I could lose some weight here or here. I need to tone this or that.”
4) “Are you crazy? Have you seen my thighs? I am trying to lose, at least, ___lbs.”
What if someone said you were the “right” size?
1) “What am I, a fast food drink?”
2) I believe that I am worthy and deserving of all things good at ANY size.
3) “No, I’m not the right size. I never find clothes in my size.”
4) I am trying to drop a few sizes so I can fit into a size ____.
End of Quiz
Total your score and read below for your results.
12-18: You have a positive body image for the most part. Keep doing what you are doing. Share with others how you came to this conclusion! Your example will help countless people overcome the pain of disordered eating.
19-26: You are on the right track to having a good body image, but struggle from time to time, whether you realize it or not. You might be recovering from having a negative body image or disordered eating tendencies, and you are on the road to health. If you did not realize that you have a negative body image, become aware of how you treat yourself. Root out all disordered eating tendencies before they become habits. This is especially important for mothers or teachers. Young children can learn eating disorder behaviors from the adults they admire. It is good to be aware of how you treat yourself.
27-36: You really struggle to have a positive body image and you have disordered eating tendencies. Be honest with yourself and stay away from things that contribute to a negative body image. You don’t have to live with a negative body image. You deserve to be happy, respected, and encouraged in your own skin. Life is too short to spend it worried about your weight.
37-48: You have severe disordered eating practices and, possibly, a diagnosable eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder. (This test is not intended to determine whether or not you have an eating disorder. You can find psychiatric tests about eating disorders here or here or here. If you feel like you might have an eating disorder, I encourage you to seek professional help. You deserve it! You are worth it! Don’t settle for life with an eating disorder.)
I won’t be offended if you laugh at my quiz or not take it seriously. I am not a professional and I didn’t spend uber amounts of time testing this quiz. If I took this quiz last year, I would have scored a 48 – the highest score possible. And at that point, I had severe body image issues and dangerous eating disorder behaviors. Taking this quiz now, I scored a 40. I still have a long way to go, but I am way better off than I was before.
Consider how you answered all those questions above…
What you believe about yourself determines how you treat yourself, especially when it comes to nourishment.
My guess is that most people scored higher than 12. If you honestly scored 12, then you are doing great in the positive body image/food relationship department. Tell me your story. How did you do it?
If you would like to share your answers with me, that would be awesome. Anonymously put your number in the comments section or send me a private message on Facebook or email me at maryb4jc (at) yahoo (dot) com. I will NOT publish your answers or draw attention to you in ANY way. This test is just purely an experiment on my part because I am curious. If you don’t want to share your results, that is totally OK too, I won’t be offended.
I know not everyone thinks the way I do. I know not everyone struggles with an eating disorder. However, I can’t help but think that a lot of people struggle to keep a positive body image.
Just because most people struggle to keep a positive body image and have a bad relationship with food, doesn’t make it right.
Keeping a positive body image and having good eating behaviors will dramatically improve your quality of life.
Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to settle for “under-nourished” life. It is possible to have a good relationship with food. It is possible to live without the fear of food. It is possible to never be on a diet again. You deserve it!