It's about time we looked beyond our individual eating habits and considered the wider social and cultural drivers of the ways we consume, and stop placing responsibility and blame for obesity or ill health solely with the individual. Like much else, obesity is a collective issue that needs a comprehensive response...
My relationship with depression and anxiety is much harder to decipher, perhaps because I still feel in the midst of these disorders. I manage a social, professional and personal life, but I'm plagued by defeating thoughts. Anxiety makes minor setbacks or small tasks morph in size. Yet I take it slowly, remembering things I've learnt to make me feel better.
Thinking of a solution to these concerns brings us back to how professionals need to treat people as people first. The same comes to therapy and treatment. Whilst research into evidence-best practice is vital in the immensely under-researched sphere of mental health, the biggest source of evidence as to what might work for any one person is the person themselves.
A warning isn't synonymous with creating 'Generation Snowflake', it's giving autonomy. An alcoholic can choose not to walk into a pub as they're signposted, a soldier with PTSD can choose to avoid a fireworks display if the explosions traumatise them with memories of war, someone influenced by online content deserves to choose what they see before clicking.
True acceptance means welcoming all shapes and sizes. By banning an image of a slim woman, what message are we then endorsing about being slim? Is being thin wrong as well? Instead of demonising just another body type, we need to take control and responsibility of our own reactions. Why not refuse to buy magazines or watch programmes which diminish women, snub diet talk in the office, reject the diet industry and its product and advocate self-love.
A lot of people tell me that I am "brave" for being so open about my mental health problems. But one of the reasons why I am open is because I don't want "brave" to be a connotation for opening up mental illness anymore. I want people to talk about their issues without being scared of people's reaction.
Mental illnesses are horribly isolating at times, this is a message for all those who are struggling right now. Whether you are someone I know or a stranger far away, this applies to you. Heck, this isn't purely for people who are finding their mental health a challenge right now, but includes all those who are struggling with life or situations being put their way.
The movement for change must be met by more than warm words from those with the power to write legislation and apportion budgets. We need our politicians as well as the public to champion mental health at the highest level, with genuine commitment to the humanitarian as well as economic arguments for better services.
The potential for psychological fall-out after experiencing sudden alterations in physical appearance are well documented in the cases of burns victims, amputees, and even people undergoing drastic weight loss surgery. The reactions of people with eating disorders are rarely legitimised in the same way because their self-image was apparently already broken prior to this new alteration.
In an ideal world obviously I would love for everyone to be vegan, so I don't want this post to be seen as telling people with eating disorders to run off and bite the nearest sheep immediately. What I am saying is that if you are vegan or have a friend who has recently turned vegan, be sure to question it (especially if they have a history of eating disorders), and be fully aware of why that choice has been made.
This is the first ever global day dedicated to eating disorders, and professionals from 40 different countries and activists from all over the world are taking part. It could not have come soon enough for us here in the UK where the number of young people hospitalised for an eating disorder has doubled in the past three years.
It's hard to refute that the epitome of a fit man is someone who has a chiseled mid range you could grate cheese on. Then there are men like me. We are bombarded with the latest craze in Men's magazines and on the Internet, about men having six pack abs. This for me is a stomach churning thought especially as I suffer with IBS.
Last night, I was watching one of my favourite programmes when, out of the blue, a male character made a joke about bulimia. When attempting to flirt with a lady at a bar, he joked that to get a figure 'as great as hers' she must've repeatedly made herself sick. It was meant to evoke a chuckle from the audience, but it was one joke that I simply couldn't laugh at. Bulimia is many things, but the one thing it isn't? Funny.