Earlier at work I walked into the break room to get some water. As I walked in a coworker and friend said something along the lines of "I am eating such a healthy lunch of x and y (exactly what she had is currently escaping me) but I am ruining it by drinking a soda with it. I don't normally drink soda or allow myself to buy it but when it's here and in front of me I give in. I only drink about 3/4 of the can so I guess it isn't that bad but I really should be drinking water. I really shouldn't be drinking this but...". I politely cut her off because I couldn't handle hearing one more self berating comment come out of her mouth. I responded with "You know, having a soda every now and again isn't that big of a deal. It will be ok and is nothing to be ashamed about." Before I could finish she cut me off with more justifications. I listened and reminded her that there was no judgement from me and that she didn't owe me any kind of explanation for what she was or wasn't eating/drinking or anything for that matter. She then proceeded to tell me that maybe she wasn't trying to convince me but instead convince her self that what she was doing was ok. I paused for a moment, this is something that I am all too familiar with. I empathized and gently reminded her that she didn't do anything wrong, that last I checked she hadn't murdered anyone so she had no need to punish herself, it was just a soda. Although I am not sure how much I helped or if anything I said sunk in, it really got me thinking.
I constantly feel the need to justify my actions, behaviors and really just everything, especially my eating. Whenever I write down food journals for my nutritionist I almost want to explain why I am choosing the things I am, which is a little ridiculous given that most of the time I am following her suggestions or meal plan. When I pull out a snack in an odd place or when no one else around me is eating I feel like I need to explain myself. When my metabolism is on overdrive due to re-feeding I feel like I need to wear a sign that says "I am in recovery from anorexia and that is why I am eating all of the time." If I get hungry in between a meal or snack time I feel that the only way I can eat is with a good reason.
This isn't just present around food. I have examples from my life and from friends who don't suffer from any kind of disordered eating. I remember earlier this year a good friend of mine went to Target because she forgot to pack some underwear for a trip . She came back with more than just underwear and gave a 15min explanation as to why she bought each other thing. As she justified herself, I looked at her with this mystified look. Another friend kindly asked her if she was happy with all of her purchases. When she replied yes, he said "Case closed, they were necessary".
Although this issue affects males, it seems to be even more predominant in females. We feel the need to justify everything that we are doing; that it isn't OK to do something just because. If you are tired, take a nap. If you are hungry, eat. If you see a pair of jeans that you really love, buy them. No need to explain that you haven't slept in a few days or that you skipped breakfast this morning or that you haven't bought jeans in years. Do something and don't feel the need to offer an explanation, whether it's to yourself or someone else. Drop the guilt. Own it. If you feel like baking cookies for dinner, do it. Who cares what anyone else says or thinks.You don't owe an explanation to anyone.