Why I Don’t Like “What I Ate in a Day” Videos

I love YouTube.

I watch Rebecca Leung and Tabitha Farrar religiously.

I love that YouTube connects me to people that speak life and light and recovery into my overwhelmed mind.

Most mornings I pop up a video to occupy my brain as I prepare breakfast and lunch for the day.  I like having a positive, recovery-focused background monologue going on while I scramble up eggs, and most days I tune into a Tabitha or Rebecca clip.  This morning, however, I tuned in to a new YouTuber in anorexia recovery, and she was sharing about what she ate in a day.

For breakfast I had an English muffin with peanut butter, and then for lunch, which was a few hours later, I started with a smoothie.

I automatically changed the video.

I have nothing against this lovely gal, as I’m sure her food intake for the rest of the day was different than a mere muffin and smoothie.  But for someone who is apt to compare calories and food and then worry that I am eating too much, my mind freaked.  And my mind really freaked since I was cooking up some sausage while listening to the clip.  And then I was putting together an English muffin slathered in peanut butter.  And then I was adding in a handful of chips to the mix.  And mixed nuts.

Comparison is a thief, and if I stopped to analyze every little bit of food that went into my mouth, I’d go insane.  No, I take that back.  I wouldn’t go insane.  I’d be in the same mental head space I have been in for the last twenty-one years of my life, and you all know that that head space is/was incredibly insistent, tiring, and overwhelming.

Balancing.  Comparing.  Weighing.  Measuring.  I’d be making sure all of my food and exercise was balanced and right and absolute and exact.

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I am a person who thrives on competition, whether it be in sport, work, or life.  Having a competitive drive in and of itself is not a bad thing, as that persevering nature helped me learn new skills (playing the oboe in middle school, riding a bike in my early twenties).  But comparing and being competitive about food is a whole other issue.  Why should I care about what some girl on YouTube (whom I never met) is eating for breakfast?  Her food choices are really not my responsibility, yet the ED voice will make it my responsibility.  The ED voice will tell me, “Hey, if she’s eating that, then why are you eating THAT?!”

Comparison will want me to eat no more than the YouTuber.  Comparison will want me to eat less than the YouTuber.  Comparison will want me to feel badly that I ate breakfast and was still hungry so I ate some more.

Maybe if I were in a different head space I would be able to watch these “What I Ate in a Day” videos and feel NOTHING towards the laundry list of carbs, proteins, and fats another person ate.  But as of right now, the ingrained tendencies to compare and then restrict are still there.  I know they are, and in order to best protect my own well-being, I can’t watch these clips.

Just to confirm that it’s really MY issues that are preventing me from watching “What I Ate in a Day” videos, I say that I applaud individuals who are open and honest and transparent in their recoveries and are posting awesome videos of their journey on YouTube.  It’s brave to be so candid with all of the inter webs, and maybe one day when I’m fully recovered I will be able to watch these clips–unfortunately for me, that “one day” is just not today.  My recovery journey is my own, and in order for me to best protect myself and focus on the neural rewiring around food that needs to take place, I have to abstain from comparison and compensations.

Now I am wondering, what are your thoughts about comparison?  Do you compare yourself to others (and it doesn’t even need to be in eating disorder recovery)?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Please share them below!

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