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Commentary: Food Photo-Blogs & Recovery

Posted Mar 25 2009 3:20pm

christmas-carousel Some of my very favorite blogs to read (besides celebrity gossip blogs!) are non-weight-loss-related, healthy living food blogs.

I LOVE the work my blogging buddies are doing, and love to get ideas from all of you. I wouldn’t have known about Barney Butter, were it not for these awesome food bloggers, for example!

I also read quite a few recovery blogs. I love seeing others grow and get better, and it’s helpful for me, as a reader, to see what others are experiencing. But lately I’ve had a bit of a nagging concern that I debated mentioning …

And so because I can’t keep my blogger-trap shut … I have to put this out there — and please know, in no way do I mean to attack those bloggers, because you know how much I care about each and every one of you and you do it because you believe it’s a positive tool, or you wouldn’t do it — but to me, it seems that photo-journaling food might do more harm than good in the recovery process.

I mean, how does it NOT fuel the obsession? How does it NOT add to the fixation? How does it NOT just keep the cycle going, around and around? I honestly want to know.

The lyrics of Lifehouse’s “Sick Cycle Carousel” come to mind:

If shame had a face I think it would kind of look like mine
If it had a home would it be my eyes
Would you believe me if I said I am tired of this
Well here we go one more time

I tried to climb your steps
I tried to chase you down
I tried to see how low I could get down to the ground
I tried to earn my way
I tried to change this mind
You better believe that I tried to beat this

So when will this end
It goes on and on
And over and over and over again
Keep spinning around I know that it wont stop
Till I step down from this for good

I never thought Id end up here
I never thought Id be standing where I am
I guess I kind of thought it would be easier than this
I guess I was wrong now one more time
Cause I tried to climb your steps
I tried to chase you down
I tried to see how low I could get down to the ground
I tried to earn my way
I tried to change this mind
You better believe that I tried to beat this.

I wonder if it just contributes to the problem, or is part of the recovery solution?

Can one of the recovery bloggers maybe explain the other side of how it’s helping them on their path to recovery? I don’t mean blogging itself; believe me, I am fully in support of it.

I mean the photo-journalism aspect of it, or the cal counting. And I’m asking out of genuine concern/care … because the more I think about it, the more I see it as a potential negative.

For weight loss blogs, I can see how maybe it’s a good extra tool — the same way we journal food, to snap pics of what we eat.

But my fear is that when we’ve crossed from just healthy “weight loss” to unhealthy “disordered eating” or “eating disorder” territory, it seems to me that the very act of snapping a pic or talking about calories might be a negative … and could further fuel disordered eating behaviors for those of us like myself who are susceptible to fall victim to it.

(Which is why there have honestly been some days I couldn’t read some of my favorite blogs … food blogs, recovery blogs, weight loss blogs, alike).

That said, I really admire Lara from the healthy living blog Thinspired, who recently stopped posting cal counts of her food; it can be a trigger for many people, and not seeing it there (and coming at it from my perspective as someone learning to deal with disordered eating issues) is actually welcoming.

You know, I’ve been asked why I don’t photograph my food here. Here’s why: because my blog (and recovery) isn’t about food. In fact, the less I talk about food itself … the better.

Because I think we all know, with disordered eating — or a full-fledged eating disorder — it’s never about the food. Never. There’s always something else; an underlying issue at bay. For me, it’s anxiety. For others, it could be something else.

It’s about using food as a weapon, as a coping mechanism (by over-eating, under-eating, having an unhealthy relationship with food) …

And so by taking pictures of every morsel we consume, or detailing calorie counts … I guess I have to wonder, is that really helping?

I just don’t know … and I don’t think there’s a commissioned study from the NIH or NEDA out there that can answer me, so that’s why I’m opening the floor here … not at all to criticize, but rather to get your opinions.

I mean, sometimes I’ll share a recipe or a photo of something I’ve cooked if I am extremely proud, but if I snapped a photo of every single thing I ate … I think it might do me (personally, me, Melissa) no good.

It would just be another way to stoke the proverbial fire for me. Journaling is plenty for me.

And so for anyone who has recovered or is seeking treatment now, do you ever read food blogs (not necessarily healthy-living-focused)? I love to get ideas, but sometimes they can be seen as “food porn” — and I think sometimes I used to visit those sites instead of enjoying something in real life. Do you feel similarly?

I genuinely would love to hear your take on it, as well as anyone with a recovery blog or who reads recovery blogs. Let’s talk this through.

I hope you all know this is coming from a place of love, concern and support — not at all to be critical of my friends in the blogosphere. I really hope we can get an interesting, respectful dialogue going here today.


How about you? Does seeing the pics or reading about cal counts trigger you? Does it ever make you want to engage in negative behavior? Or has it helped you on your own path to recovery?

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