The red flags in your relationship with food

Know when to seek help and the influencers to avoid when you do.

Less poetic more informative today,
So buckle in,
Because there’s been a bit of a stir in the fitness world news,
Another moment of ‘oh man, that’s our industry’.

A big-name influencer,
500 thousand followers and a huge group coaching programme,
Has been sued by Texas state,
For giving “bad health advice”.

This influencer,
Who was lacking in qualifications,
Suggested she supported those with eating disorders,
By linking her coaching back to her own ED struggles.

It’s a narrative I see so often,
“I’ve had an eating disorder so I can help you”,
“I’ve been suicidal so let me show you how to be positive”,
Drenched in saviour complexes and audacity,
And often,
Misplaced good intentions.

These people know how to get to your ‘pain points’
They’ve ‘been there’,
They speak to your soul and pull you in,
Because you feel heard,

But at best?
Working with someone unqualified stops you from getting the help you need,
And at worst?
Makes things infinitely harder.

There’s a level of personal responsibility here,
Where I encourage each of you to say,
Is this person I follow,
That I get coached by,
Helping or hindering me?

And crucially,
Are they qualified to do so?

If I took away their following,
Their body and their associations,
And I saw their CV on paper,
Would they be someone I’d trust with my life?

This is your part to play,
But the rest is ours,
And in today’s case,
It’s mine,
To provide a refresher on your health.

A reminder that I don’t work with those living with eating disorders,
But rather,
Hope that I can catch you before you fall that far.

As a registered nutritionist with a PhD,
Am not qualified to work with those with eating disorders,
So consider that when you see a PT advertising that they can…

But also here’s a list,
Of some of the red flags for your relationship with food,
Flags you should take as a message that says,
Please, take some action on your health now.

As opposed to the other kind of red flags,
That I know many of you still run to,
Thinking memes between friends make it ok,
But that’s for another day…

This list isn’t exhaustive,
But tick off those you experience:
Regular over- or binge eating
Discomfort eating around others
Lifestyle planned around eating or overeating
Withdrawal from social activities
Over-concern with weight and shape
Frequent body checking
Disruption in normal eating behaviours and meals
Food exclusion, rules and rituals
Eating alone out of embarrassment or shame
Guilt and shame after overeating or eating differently from planned
Feelings of low self-esteem
Difficulty concentrating due to food preoccupation
Irregular or missing periods
Large fluctuations in weight (up or down)
Constant desires and attempts to diet

Stop for a second and consider,
Do I know these red flags?
Is it time to change them before I fall deeper?
Or is it time for clinical support?

Don’t fall further down the slope,
Don’t fall victim to crappy fitness advice that does more harm than good,
Just because you can mask things temporarily with a meal plan,
Doesn’t mean it’s helping you.

But also,
Don’t tar the fitness industry with the brush of those bad apples,
Because the good ones?
We’re here to help.

This is your health,
Your one body,
Your one life,
Take ownership of it.

I know it’s a cliché,
But each day is a gift,
You deserve to live it as such.

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Emilia Thompson

I’m a Registered Nutritionist, Holistic Nutrition Educator and Therapist in Training. I improve relationships with food in the fitness and wellness spaces.