The Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others
Have you ever seen a show or movie in which the protagonist is told what food to order on a date? Sometimes the protagonist orders a salad, told by friends and family that guys “like a girl that’s skinny,” or sometimes she orders a burger, because “guys like a girl who can eat.”
Okay, first of all, there is so much wrong with these statements! They equate beauty with skinny, imply salads makes you skinny, and suggest girls should eat based on others’ perceptions, not their own taste and cravings. What?! Yeah… and these are the messages TV shows and movies think we need to learn.
During my disordered eating and exercise period I became obsessed with what everyone else was eating. I followed hundreds of food Instagram accounts and I would applaud myself for eating “healthier” than many of the posts I saw. I made everything a competition- was I eating better than the influencers people applauded for being “healthy?” Was I eating less than them? Working out harder? I did the same with my friends and family, and even strangers. In the dining hall, I would look at what everyone else chose to eat, in my mind judging those with a plate of French fries and pizza. I would look at my salad and tell myself that I was doing a way better job.
I was not only being mean to others, but to myself as well. This mentality was incredibly toxic for my own mindset. I became obsessed with thinking I was doing better than others when it came to my journey with exercise and food. And because I was solely basing my progress off of appearance, whether by looking at what was on others’ plates, what they were doing at the gym, or how “in shape” they looked, I became obsessed with my own appearance in the same aspects. So when I thought the reverse, as in I saw myself as failing compared to these other figures because I had eaten a cookie or been too tired for a hard workout, I would feel horrible about myself. When I saw people who I considered to be in “better” shape eating “worse” than me, I would get lost within my mind, wondering what I was doing wrong, how I could do better, how unfair it was that they could eat whatever they wanted while I couldn’t… and this would happen time and time again with a variety of subject matter.
A large component of my switch to practicing a balanced approach to health and wellness was separating myself from others’ opinions and others’ choices. I unfollowed all the Instagram accounts, began consciously thinking of what was on my own plate, listening to my body as opposed to what I thought was the “healthiest” choice… I had to focus on me and do what was best for my body, mind, etc. This is the reason why I will never try to tell you all what to do… you have to find out what is best for you! Instead, my goal is to help you realize that only you can determine what is best for you, and if you get some inspiration from these posts, my recipes, or inspiration page, then that is amazing!
At times, I definitely find it hard to stop comparing myself to others. There are days when I order a huge salad because I know my body is craving vegetables. Then I sit down and see someone eating pizza and fries and start to relapse into the toxic mindset that used to consume me, wondering how they can eat that and I can’t etcetera etcetera. But, I take a deep breath and refocus on the food in front of me, remembering what I love about it and why I ordered it in the first place. And, honestly, sometimes that person eating pizza convinces me that I am in fact craving pizza, so I’ll go and get a slice for myself as well. Sometimes this means I just need a bite to satisfy my taste buds, and other times this means I will eat the whole piece alongside my salad, getting the best of both worlds! When it comes down to it, I just always try my best to listen to my body and think about what it is craving in the moment. I think that’s really all I can do and it gets easier every day!
Comparing yourself to others and wondering what people think of you is all too easy, especially with social media. But I think more and more we are beginning to take steps towards a society that values authenticity and vulnerability on social media. So if you struggle with this, unfollow those people that give you anxiety and make you doubt yourself, and instead follow those who build you up and show all their truths, the good and the bad. You are way more awesome than you know, I promise you that!
What is the craziest advice you’ve been given regarding food? Also, what are your favorite Instagram accounts that build you up?