“Watch Out! It’s a Trap!” (Special WIAW Edition)

“Watch out! It’s a trap!”

wiaw-trap-star-wars

The famous last words of every major detective (or Star Wars alien) before they fall through a trap door into a dark and gloomy dungeon. Or a pool of sharks. Ya. Let’s go with the sharks.

wiaw-trap-nemo

How about that just for today, we all pretend to be detectives.

wiaw-trap-detectives

Detectives?! Please, just bear with me…

How about we change that to internet detectives?

wiaw-trap-internet-detectives

Getting warmer…

How about we further still change it to internet detectives of the health living trap?

wiaw-trap-food-detective

Ah, now I have your attention.

Today I want to talk about how we all need to be our own personal detectives when navigating the “healthy living” community of the blog world. This same community has been cause for so much reformation that it’s really astounding. I’ve read literally hundreds of stories of women (and men) who have found healthy living blogs and improved their lives dramatically. These stories range from simple adjustments to life-changing results. From weight loss to weight gain, from managing chronic disease to discovering an entirely new passion.

I, and probably many of you, fall into that latter category: Passion.

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Ever since I found this amazing community of blogs, I have developed an eye-opening passion for healthfulness, something that my former eighth-grade, oreo-binging self would never have even guessed at. And I am eternally grateful.

But…

There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?

That does not mean that I haven’t also made some mistakes when trying to follow the ideas of some of these same “healthy” blogs. I won’t go into much detail now, but I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of yo-yo-ing between restriction, over-consumption, etc.

Do I blame these things on my beloved healthy living blogs? Certainly not. But that doesn’t mean that they are entirely blameless. They are meant to provide tips, examples, and interesting information. However, they are not meant to be copied or taken as fact.

wiaw-trap-do-not-copy

Also, while I do truly believe that many of these popular bloggers have found a healthy balance in their lives, both with self and spirit, that doesn’t mean that all of the blogs that you encounter in this community will be healthy. Some will be quite the opposite, and many (actually quite a few in this category), will be the complete opposite.

Here’s where the detective work needs to come in. The job of a detective is to conduct investigations to identify “criminal activity.” Some such activities includes extreme calorie consumption (either on the low or high end according to accepted guidelines), distorted body image, exercising more than the recommended amount (professional athletes not included), engaging in obsessive/dangerous behavior (obsessive calorie counting, exercising, spending, caffeine addiction, compulsive tendencies, etc.), and making medical diagnoses or recommendations for themselves and others without the proper education and training.

wiaw-trap-education

Now, these are just some of the things that I have identified as “criminal activities,” but I’m positive that there are many more, some I’m sure that have not been identified yet,  and a great number that can very easily slip under our detective radars.

My point in writing this post is to encourage all of you to investigate everything you read. Take nothing as fact or “healthy” until you do thorough research on your own and/or run it by a trusted professional.

wiaw-trap-doctor

This may seem like a somewhat depressing post to use for this week’s WIAW party, but it’s one that I have been wanting to write for awhile.

I feel like What I Ate Wednesday is the perfect place to share my thoughts on this topic because it is very easy to fall into the comparison trap when reading food journals. WIAW is such a wonderful thing, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it… As long as we keep our magnifying glasses up and ready.

wiaw-trap-magnifying-glass

Remember as the ever-so-smart Jenn from Peas and Crayons says:

—-What WIAW isn’t about—-

Comparison – Judgement – Restriction – Guilt

—-What WIAW is about—-

Celebrating one of the glorious things we all have in common: We all eat!

WIAW is about food and fun! It’s about making new friends, breaking out of a food rut, noting changes in your diet/lifestyle, inspiring yourself & others, embracing fruit & vegetables, nourishing your body with the foods that work for you, finding new ways to eat your favorite foods, and so. much. more. ❤

Celebrate Food.  Celebrate blogging.  Celebrate Individuality.
[Cause over here, we like to party!]

——————————————————————————————

Two additional thoughts before I wrap up this post for the day:

1. I am not saying that those who have different diets than what we consider “the norm” are restrictive or unhealthy. Sometimes there are perfectly legitimate reasons for eliminating certain food groups (take those with food allergies for instance– like me!), or having to watch specific macronutrients (like carbohydrates for diabetics). When looking at my meals (mostly soup right now), you may think that I am being restrictive, but I am eating for my health, and that is all. Hence the name of my blog: Eating 4 Balance. Right now I am trying to heal my gut, and ultimately find what works for me. Do I miss the other foods that I used to eat? Heck yes! But I feel much better without them. Also, now that I’ve eliminated most of my trouble foods I am actually able to eat more calories and fat than before (and perfectly within the “safe” range), without feeling completely terrible. If you ever have doubts about me, or another blog though, just ask!

2. You didn’t think that I could do an entire post without pictures of food, did you? I know I promised on Monday that I would be posting some awesome recipes, but I feel like this post takes priority. So, you’ll just have to wait. I promise it won’t be too long. Until then, a few pictures to hold you over:

wiaw-trap-casserole

wiaw-trap-cookie

—————————————————————————————–

Have you ever fallen into the “healthy living” trap?

Are there blogs that you used to read that you don’t anymore, because they portray disordered habits?

What have you found effective when trying to figure out whether or not a blog is “healthy”?

On the topic of food… What is your favorite thing that you ate so far this week?

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58 thoughts on ““Watch Out! It’s a Trap!” (Special WIAW Edition)

  1. I totally fell into the comparison trap a few times. Reading some blogs sometimes made me feel guitly, because I can’t fit in a whole hour of hardcore exercise every day, because I don’t get up at 5 am every morning to go to the gym, because I don’t spend my Saturdays running 10 miles before the rest of the family wakes up, because I eat grains and too much fruit and too little protein, because I’m not skinny/fit/ripped enough, etc. I could go on and on, but I guess you get my point. So I try to stay away from blogs that make me feel bad, and just read blogs that make me feel good about myself.
    Healthy living means something different for all of us. And that’s totally fine!

    • I totally get your point. I never really thought about it that way, but sometimes those blogs get us not because we *are* copying them, but because we can’t, and then feel guilty about it. I’ve had to stop looking at some blogs, because you’re right, they do make you feel bad.

      Healthy really is dependent on the person. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I’ve seen this topic a lot lately on the social media world. I think that it is really hard to compare yourself to anyone seeing as we all eat differently. I love how you discussed it though…we can’t feel guilty about not doing something or having too much or something because someone else doesn’t post it. Who knows what they are doing in real life?

    I used to fall victim to a lot when I was depressed about being diabetic…I’d be like “x, y and z are eating this and they don’t have these problems…blah blah blah…”. Now I’ve kinda started taking it with a grain of salt.

    Awesome post!

    • I know personally I forget to post stuff all the time, like, stuff I probably should be posting… But that is my lack-luster memory skills at work 🙂 I’m sure others are the same way and don’t post everything, especially what they eat, or what circumstances they are under.

      You hit the nail on the head with that feeling of depression. I’ve since been able to move past that feeling like you. Before I was diagnosed with my allergies I would try and copy what some bloggers ate, for the exact reason that they didn’t seem to have any problems. So I thought maybe I wasn’t eating “the right stuff.” Then when I found out about my allergies, I kind of became mad at the world and was all “woe is me!” Now I just comment and say: Awesome-looking cookie, OR, I want a piece of that cake. Lol. Just because we can’t have it, doesn’t mean I don’t remember what it tastes like or wish that I *could* have it.

      And an awesome comment! 🙂

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. What works for one person may not for the next and we all need to find our own path to balance and health. A particular workout may radically help one person and injure another just how a meal could be tolerated by one person but not the next. I try to stress intuition and awareness as much as possible because we have so much to learn from each other but still need to listen to our bodies in the process :). I feel like reflecting on recent eats through WIAW is one of the things that helps me personally be mindful of what I’m doing and where I have room for improvement and getting to see all the unique meals around blog land is just so inspiring to me when I fall into ruts or need a new dish to get excited about. I’m so rambling aren’t I? Haha sorry about that!

    Xo
    Jenn

    • We definitely do need to find our own path. I think you do a great job in raising awareness about listening to our bodies. I’ve learned a lot through WIAW, both from others and from reflecting on my own choices like you said. Plus, I’ve gotten some amazing recipes from WIAW! Inspiration indeed.

      And not rambling at all. Everything you said was spot on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  4. Hollie’s right. A lot of people have been writing about this lately. It’s like the skeletons coming out of the closet and I kind of like it. I feel like a lot of the HLB aren’t healthy at all and I’m lucky in some ways that I’m so picky because I just don’t see myself eating like them. I don’t even want to try half the stuff they make. that being said, I totally fall into that place where I’m like “but I could cut out half the calories if I just did ….” and that’s not good. I definitely have issues realizing that I SHOULD be eating a ton of food as someone who is running so many miles a week. You said this all perfectly. Everyone is different and needs a different amount of food.

    • I kind of like it too 🙂 What other posts have you read on this topic? I think it would be really neat to gather them all up into one post so that we can see all of the different perspectives.

      I think healthy living blogs were the first place that I learned to cut calories in baking. Egg whites in place of whole eggs. Applesauce in place of oil. Splenda in place of sugar. Not that those aren’t amazing ideas, and if I can ever eat that stuff again, I’ll probably try healthifying my recipes again (well, except for the Splenda part… Not even *close* to healthy). But I definitely won’t go to such extremes.

      Glad that you’ve come to the same realization as me. I think you are definitely a better blogger for it.

      • I think Alex @Therunwithin did one, and so did Sam @Better with Sprinkles and Amanda @Runningwithspoons? I could be wrong but those are the big ones I remember seeing lately. But I wouldn’t go near splenda either.

      • I’ve read the ones from Alex and Amanda, but not Sam’s yet. Thanks for sharing.

        I can’t believe that I ever even bought a box of splenda. It was many moons ago, and it sat half full in our pantry for a long time unused… So at least that counts for something! 🙂

    • I debated on using it because the fishy picture is kind of gross. But mainly I was just worried that no one would get it! Now it’s totally worth it that at least one person knows what I’m talking about 🙂

  5. Great post!! We are all different, exercise differently so it’s okay to eat different things. There are some things I can’t eat that many others eat because it will make me sick or I’d probably still be extremely overweight. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Thanks 🙂 Exactly. It’s not all about calories anymore with weight. I’ve definitely learned that thanks to blogs. If I was still eating all of those foods that I’m allergic to, I would be terribly sick and bloated as all get out. Now I can eat more, but just of the right foods. I’m glad that you’ve figured out what foods do and don’t work for you too. Definitely better than being in the dark!

  6. Well, hun, I’m happy that I’m not a healthy living blogger, and even though I follow some, I never compare myself to those girls – maybe because I’m old(er) I love the recipes, the enthusiasm and laughter. But I’m not them as well as they are not me. listening to ones body and treating it right is the good thing to do, IMO.
    I’m glad your brought up this issue. Keep striving for your better, true self 😉

    • I actually think this applies to all blogs, not just healthy living blogs. But you’re right in that I think it’s more dangerous to emulate the unhealthy lifestyles of some of them, compared to say… Trying to emulate a craft blogger or something. Haha 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes. You too!

  7. You GOT IT! So many times we read these blogs thinking, oh she has it together or that’s what I should be eating. We are all different and need to understand that. I love seeing what people are eating in terms of good recipes for the week. Otherwise I fall into a trap of the SAME MEALS. Ew 😉

    Let’s just say it’s a daily trap to most. As for my favorite food, I made some delish cookies (sea salt caramel chocolate chip) and they went perfectly (at least for me) as a follow up to some sweet potato! I’m hoping to experiment a little once the stress of midterms subsides a bit.

    • I think a lot of bloggers only post the good, which isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing, but it can be deceptive for some. I try and post a combination of good/bad because nobodies perfect, and trying to seem perfect just makes you seem fake.

      I fall into the same-thing-everyday trap too. A whole different kind of trap entirely. Those cookies sound delicious. Something about “sea salt” and “caramel” just gets my mouth watering. Lol. And sweet potatoes are always good 🙂 Hope your midterms go well!

  8. I have to agree with this. My thing is I need blinders a lot because there is a lot of disorder in this blog world. hands down there is. it is about what finding that works for you but people fall victim to that undereating, overexercising pattern all too much

  9. very good point with navigating the healthy blogs- not all info out there is good info or even just the right info for you individually! everyone is different and needs different things!

  10. Thank you love. This post is so true and well written. I have definitely fallen into the healthy living trap, especially after I started my blog. I felt like I had to have these awesome workouts and a crazy clean diet to “fit in.” Thankfully, I realized what was happening pretty quick, and after some chats with blends and my fam, I have been working to follow what I know/believe to be healthy for me right now. I still enjoy seeing what other people do (and I definitely find lots of yummy recipes), but I’m getting a lot better about recognizing what’s for me and what’s not. There are a couple blogs that I don’t follow anymore because I can’t get past the fact that they don’t seem to be portraying a particularly healthy life at all, but I can also simply skim things, too. And to me, a blog is “healthy” if it shows a little bit of everything and is honest, if that makes sense. My favorites are those that show balanced meals and those that may be more of a splurge, healthy treats and those with no “healthy” ingredients, workouts and easy runs and rest days, things where life is great and those where they say that they’re struggling. I relate to those the most, and for me, that shows what’s healthiest what now. That’s my personal thing, though, and like you said, I know that my version of health doesn’t match everyone (or anyone) elses. And my favorite thing eaten this week would be the grilled cheese I made for dinner last night…quite a combination of flavors that hit the spot perfectly 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your wonderful response! I think many of us have fallen into this trap, especially when first starting to blog like you said. That is so awesome that you have gotten so much support from your family and friends.

      Even if I quit blogging sometime in the future, I will definitely still look to them for recipe inspiration– So many good ideas!

      It makes me sad though that some of the blogs that first got me into blogging I have now realized are disordered and not quite as healthy as I first perceived. I say this a lot, but I really need to go through my blog roll and delete a few 😦

      Your grilled cheese sounds great!

  11. This post was not depressing at all and I really liked it! Everything you said was so true. I agree that you definitely need to not get to caught up in what you’re reading on healthy living blogs and keep in mind that everyone is different.

    • I totally know where you are coming from. It can be very difficult not to compare. I like your idea of trying to see the person behind the blog. I do that too. It makes it easier to stop comparing when you realize that they’re not as perfect as they initially seemed.

  12. I totally agree. Sometimes I read post and think “seriously? You ate that??” when they do some crazy substitution version of a perfectly normal meal. Some, like yourself, do have genuine problems with certain foods but some bloggers you just think oh it’s another week what are they cutting out this time? Until reading HLBs I didn’t know there were so many different types of flours in the world!! And a cookie isn’t a proper cookie if it doesn’t have either proper sugar in it or butter in my opinion.

    • I think that a lot of times with some of the combos that bloggers make. In reality I bet they are actually very good, it’s just that the pictures are not that appetizing-looking.

      I feel sometimes like readers will get tired of me because I experiment a lot with cutting things out to see what is affecting my stomach. Sometimes it really seems like all food hates me 😀 I’m glad that’s not the case and you understand it’s my allergies though. Really, kind of a relief.

      I’m probably one of those people who will twist a cookie recipe until it no longer resembles a butter-flour cookie, but I completely agree with you!!

  13. There used to be so many times that I’d fall victim to comparison… At one point some blogs even used to make me feel like I have to be running 5 miles to “deserve” my food.

    But then, thankfully, I’ve found many other blogs that show real people, real lifestyles, eating normally (healthy and unhealthy both). Now I just stick to reading these ones!

    • I fell into that trap this spring when I was at my lowest point in dealing with my stomach problems. I gained a lot of weight because I was reacting to all of my allergies. Then I’d see some of these fitness bloggers toting that to burn off the cookie they just ate they went and ran a few miles. It made me feel so guilty!

      I much prefer real people any day over those “perfect” bloggers.

  14. This is such a great post, Madison! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject!

    I’ve fallen into the comparison trap or the copying trap. Then I snapped out of it and realized that I already know what works for me and don’t need to be following anyone else. No one else has exactly my body or my lifestyle.

    So far I’ve only stopped reading one blog because I thought they were too disordered. Exercising over 3 hours a day and bragging that you stayed under your calorie limit is not healthy. The thing that really got me to unsubscribe though was complaining about her kid on top of that. I just don’t need to read about that.

    Maybe I’m not the best detective but I find most of the blogs I read to portray healthy eating or at least to admit when they struggle.

    My favorite thing I ate this week was hamburger! It’s simple but so good! Eating it, I can’t believe I was a vegetarian for so long (8 years). I’ve also been enjoying pancakes and home made pretzels. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Sometimes blogs have helped me think of things that I never would have thought of. Really, I would still be in constant pain and agony without the blog world. It is what opened my eyes to the entire of food allergies and intolerances. But not all of the blogs are accurate in their depictions. They are just trying to figure out what is working for them, just like us.

      I still glance at some of the disordered blogs, because sometimes there posts really strike a chord with me, but I don’t take nearly as much stock in them as I used to.

      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been keeping an eye out too.

      Your hamburger sounds great. Oh, and what I wouldn’t give for a pretzel! I worked in a high school concession stand over the weekend and my eye was on the pretzels the entire time. SO HARD 🙂

  15. I think I used to be a lot more “triggered” by certain blogs to emulate a certain eating style or exercise regimen, but within my comfort levels. I don’t find myself being in that vulnerable position of being “triggered” anymore, and I just try to do what’s best for me.

  16. Haha I love how you approached this topic! It really isn’t a laughing matter, it’s definitely a serious topic, but I think your approach was very lighthearted and balanced, not blaming or pointing fingers. It seems as if this has become a huge topic of discussion lately in the HLB world which I think is related to the increasing number of distorted blog posts appearing… And I agree that people should read blogs “[for] tips, examples, and interesting information. However, they are not meant to be copied or taken as fact.”

  17. I’m definitely completely with you on this one – from too little (most common) to too much, it’s really dangerous to compare. I’ve definitely pared down my own blog reading since I started, because there are A LOT of disordered blogs out there and I just think that’s not beneficial for anyone. I definitely don’t want to read my way into a disorder!!

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  19. Great post! I’m inclined to agree with much of it. Whenever I come across a blog that I find promotes ED tendecies though (i.e. I’m all about healthy living, now here’s some diet pills I recommend), I just stop reading it.
    I have done the comparison thing myself, and whenever I realize it, I say screw that and throw in some extra expletives or some less than ideal pictures of myself and the food because at the end of the day, I gotta be real and honest.
    Despite the above, I am completely guilty of the medical diagnosis part though. As you know, I have self-diagnosed OCD and ADD. With that being said, I have to go clean my house now, and wait, what’s that…squirrel! 🙂

  20. Great post!! Nobody really talks about this too much, but you’re right, it’s really important to be investigative when it comes to reading healthy living blogs. It’s so easy for people to commit those “crimes” without getting caught — you really have to watch out and make sure you’re not being tricked.

    By the way, I tweeted about this post on Twitter, but I couldn’t find your profile… are you on Twitter? I wanted to tag you in the post.

    • I agree. I think most of the time these bloggers fly under the radar and aren’t caught. That, or the readers don’t care. It’s so easy to be tricked.

      I’m not on twitter 😦 Shame on me, right? Haha. Thanks for tweeting about my post though! That’s so sweet 🙂

  21. I like that you covered this topic, as many would not have ventured there. There is a blog that I won’t read because I feel she has literally taken “fitness” and “dieting” to basically an eating disorder level. And yet her blog is so praised for being “healthy.” If you take one look at the girl, she is SO thin. And she used to be very fat. She’s not just thin in comparison, but like grossly thin. It irritates me that some people think this is healthy. On the flip side, I honestly think a lot of “healthy living bloggers” are try to be healthy but they’re just not. It’s apparent by what they look like, and the fact that they don’t post what they eat a lot. Not trying to be judgemental, but this topic struck a chord with me. It’s all about balance really. And of course, doing your research.

    • I *almost* wish that we could all just gather a page of these blogs so that we all don’t have to make the same mistakes when reading them. That would be incredibly taboo though, I guess.

      I like your second statement the most. Healthy does mean moderation. Moderation does not mean junk food for every other meal, or “fueling your body” with a gazillion cartons of —insert junk food here— Lol. I’m not trying to be judgmental either, but I completely agree. Balance. Balance. Balance!

  22. Thank you for this post. I agree that it’s very important to do your detective work and protect ourselves from falling into the comparison trap. As someone who’s been studying nutrition for several years and just finished a clinical internship, it’s easier for me to be comfortable with the notion that we all have individual needs, though I sometimes wish it was appropriate to reach out to a blogger and say, “Please be kinder to yourself.” That said, I occasionally fall into the trap when it comes to running. I enjoy various kinds of physical activity, but I never have and never will be a runner. It wasn’t until I found out about a foot deformity when I was 25 that I understood WHY running was so painful for me! After that, it was easy to just keep doing the things I love and accet that I will probably never run a marathon-I am very okay with that : )

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