I remember the repeated messages in school that we should be VERY careful about what we put on the internet. From revenge porn to future employers catching us drinking or engaging in any “rowdy” behavior, once it was on the internet it was there forever and thus had the potential to ruin our lives as we knew them.

I’m not sure the scaremongering worked in every sense. It has made me do the odd Facebook photo clear out in the last few years, trips to Thailand for full moon and nights out at uni don’t exactly show me in my most professional state, although I do believe they show me living my best life, a life that I could have only dreamed of several years prior when I was in an out of specialist appointments due to anorexia nervosa.

What I’m getting at here is that everyone lets their hair down once in a while and everyone makes mistakes. Some are unforgivable but others are part of growing up and having to get things wrong so you can get them right the second time around. After all, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

Over the years I’ve been on social media, starting as a naive nineteen year old and ending up as a far more responsible and well read 24 year old (who still likes to have a good time), I have been reflecting on my mistakes and what I have learned from them. I thought I would share them with you because the process of making a mistake can feel like total despair, it can genuinely feel like life is over or you’ve ruined something for good. But this is simply not the case. I’ve learned that it’s best to put your hands up when you make mistakes, apologise and admit to when things have gone wrong. Use the experience to learn and grow and to better yourself. So without further ado, here are 5 of mine 🙂

 

1) Bent the truth on social media

I once photographed my Mum’s Lamb Biriyani and said it was a vegan sweet potato version because that’s what I thought my followers wanted to see!

When I started my account, I was so desperate to fit in with the wellness scene I told some white lies on a few captions, but happily wolfed down the lamb with some red wine because that’s simply what we were having for our family dinner. Now I realise this was potentially very harmful. A) I was only showing one side of the life I was living and therefore inadvertently encouraging others to live up to my own virtious standards, standards I wasn’t even fulfilling myself. I was also subconsciously contributing to the popular rhetoric that some foods are better than others, or some ways of eating such as veganism are better than others which simply is not the case.

I think three things can be deduced from this:

  1. Instagram is a one-sided version of reality and a highlight / or just totally misleading reel. In reality, you have no idea what’s going on in someone’s life. Remind yourself of this often.
  2. “Healthy” is individual and doesn’t look the same on everyone. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do, is the opposite of what wider culture may be promoting. Forget the finer details, healthy here was being able to just enjoy a meal with my family and be flexible with regards to what was being served.
  3. Lying is never a good idea. Don’t be afraid to be honest and put your hands up when you slip up. I’m sorry.

 

2) Made a recipe for spirulina brain balls

I truly apologise for this one. So enthralled by wellness I wrote a recipe for perhaps the most fowl sounding and tasting recipe imaginable. Wouldn’t have fed these to my worst enemy. Thank goodness I came to my senses and realised that spirulina tasted like pond water and is a revolting waste of time. I love my greens, broccoli with chilli and garlic, sautéed kale, roasted sprouts yum. But trying to force in those green powders was waste of time, money and energy, and even worse was trying to tempt you guys into it too.

 

3) Engaged in pseudoscience

Yes, I did 🙁 I talked about the detoxifying and alkalising benefits of hot water and lemon. I photographed a “metabolism boosting” chocolate and chili smoothie. I even talked about “guilt-free foods”. I was hell-bent on needing to have “natural” everything. So much so I got a bit anxious about a vaccine and thought I should come off my birth control pill which wasn’t causing me any issues. Yes, I did all of these things and I’m being honest about it because frankly, I want to acknowledge my mistakes and prevent you from having to fall into the same trap.

I believed everything I read from non-trustworthy sources and then certain things just rolled off the tongue. I’m not saying don’t drink hot water with lemon, I’m saying it’s not a wonder cure. I’m saying that the alkaline diet is a load of nonsense and if your body was outside its normal ranges you would be in the hospital. I’m saying there’s a lot of questionable information out there which preys on vulnerabilities and uses scaremongering tactics. I once believed it and engaged in it myself and now understanding the science properly I can say this was a mistake. Be careful about what you read and how it impacts you, look for trustworthy sources and don’t be afraid to put up some boundaries too. For example, not all of us need to know about all the ins and outs of nutrition or read labels because it can fuel anxieties or restrictions.

 

4) Juice Cleansed

Another ridiculous expense on both time and money, and what’s worse I endorsed one day cleanses when they genuinely haven’t made me feel all that great. There’s nothing wrong with a juice, one in the afternoon with a snack, a bit of orange with breakfast, but a full day fast where you only consume the stuff….NO! It certainly didn’t give me the wonder benefits it claimed. It just made me think incessantly about the next morning where I could CHEW food again at breakfast, where I usually overcompensated for the day of restriction. The days I “cleansed”, where I didn’t get any fibre and barely any fat or protein (so silly!), I would always feel cold and exhausted by about 2 pm. I could barely concentrate and completely lacked any life or energy.

For anyone recovering from an eating disorder especially, much like intermittent fasting juice cleanses can be outright dangerous. They are restriction under the guise of health in its purest form and I feel very lucky that this didn’t trigger any old behaviors for me. If you are in recovery, I urge you, please don’t play with fire, you have a duty of care to yourself.

Say about juicing what you will, we all have different experiences, but I found the so-called cleanse made me feel weak and moody and food was on my mind 24/7. I like a glass of juice but a cleanse isn’t going to result in better health or happiness, or a better savings account for that matter.

 

5) Daily Mail Article / Endorsing Clean Eating

This was undoubtedly my greatest mistake and one which I have not taken lightly. Exactly a year ago, the Daily Mail published an article in which I appear to be endorsing clean eating. The words which I initially shared were twisted and a lot of the article which was supposed to be about embracing the grey area when it comes to food and lifestyle was omitted. I have tried everything in my power to get this article down because it may come across as though I am championing clean eating as helpful in eating disorder recovery, let me make it quite clear that I absolutely do not.

Clean eating in eating disorder recovery is dangerous and can help maintain or perpetuate the eating disorder and their associated behaviours. Sticking to safe foods and avoiding others is not what recovery is about. Recovery is about flexibility and being able to enjoy and appreciate a diverse range of foods without worrying too much about their nutrition or energy content. In fact, clean eating in any scenario can be dangerous because it implies some foods are “bad”. It dichotomises and creates unnecessary anxiety around foods that makes eating a convoluted experience with added guilt and fear that simply doesn’t need to be there. It also forgets the varied role of food in our lives such as pleasure, socialising and traditions.

This article takes me back to those assemblies back at school when we were told to be careful about what we put on the internet, because unlike my own Instagram or blog, I can’t delete it and it’s there forever.

Whilst this article gives a false impression of my beliefs. I did have a brief encounter with clean eating way back when. I’ve experienced its addictive nature and the way it thrives off scaremongering and fat phobia. I never strictly ate “clean” because thankfully I was starting to enjoy student life at Edinburgh, where I was investing my time and energy in more memorable and exciting experiences so that I didn’t fall into the lull of dedicating my time to following this virtuous dietary path. However, reflecting back I can see how had I not been in a strong place mentally, socially and emotionally, it may have influenced me to conform more religiously to certain dietary styles and adopt behaviors that may have re-triggered my illness.

This article that I can’t get down is one of my biggest regrets, but it’s one I have learnt, and am still learning a lot from, and will do everything possible not to repeat.  Let’s get one thing straight, I am not about clean eating, clean is for knickers.

The sum of my mistakes reminds me of some words by Dolly Alderton in her recent Style column 30 THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT LIFE AT 30.

 

“29 a) You are so much more than your worst day or your worst joke or your misjudged tweet or your mistake at work. We live in a time when it’s easy to think our entire existence deserves to be “cancelled” for our inevitable failings, but messing up is an essential part of being human. Good people do bad things sometimes. Learn, apologise, let it go.”

Love Isa xx

 

 

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