by Heather Bell, MPH, RD, LDN
Health is more than the absence of disease (the World Health Organization says so!). It’s a state of mind, body, and soul. And recovering from an eating disorder is about more than medical and psychological indicators—it’s about reclaiming the vibrancy of a life fully-lived. When someone’s relationship with food is truly healed, they can participate more fully in the every-day experiences that make life meaningful and pleasurable, especially when those experiences involve eating.
Knowing that “All Foods Can Fit” allows people to be normal, well-adjusted eaters who are comfortable eating in a variety of settings, and under a variety of circumstances.
We don’t just encounter food in our private homes. We dine at restaurants, go to office parties, and get stuck with drive-thru or mini-mart options on the highway at 1 a.m. in the morning. This is real life, and it’s also real quality of life. Food and eating aren’t just about fuel; they’re also part of being social, and going places, and doing interesting things. When people are rigid and fearful about food, their ability to navigate real-life eating situations is compromised, sometimes so much so that these quality of life experiences are given up in favor maintaining the established food rules. People pass up the opportunities for discovery, for connection, for networking, and for fun that come with these unplanned and unpredictable food encounters, and that is a tremendous loss. The concept of “All Foods Can Fit” is about practicing flexibility, and feeling confident that one unusual meal (or even an entire day of unusual meals) will not spell dietary disaster. It encourages people to take the long view of healthy eating, and to look at how new and different eating experiences can contribute to being the person they want to be, and living the life they want to live. It helps to set people free–free to transcend the food rules and engage with life on other terms. And that, is the greatest, and most healing experience of all.