Home » Blog » Eating Disorders and Moral Superiority

Previous post: Males in Treatment for Eating Disorders: What to Expect

Next post: Breaking the Social Stigmas of Bulimia

April 28, 2015

Eating Disorders and Moral Superiority

Blog Contributed By: Travis Stewart, LPC, Owner/Recovery Coach at Revision Recovery

“Being gluten intolerant is the hottest eating trend in the New Age community” begins JP Sears1 in his satirical YouTube video on How to Become Gluten Intolerant2.

Sears is an “emotional healing coach” who does a lot of serious work with clients on “self-sabotage and inner healing” in order to help them live “more meaningful lives.” However, lately he seems to be making a lot of waves with his sense of humor.

Recently, his video on gluten intolerance gained a lot of attraction on social media and has over 3 million views on YouTube. In it he satirizes the latest food trend of avoiding gluten, as he discusses being difficult to please, placing high demand on others to agree with your food choices and feeling morally superior because of your nutritional philosophy. Here is an example:

“If you’re at a friend’s house and they’ve gone out of your way to meet the Da Vinci code of your gluten-free demands, they’re not trying to be friendly, they’re trying to overthrow your reign of control and dominance. You can’t let this happen. You’ll have to play the trump card of another food intolerance that you’ve never told them about before. This puts you back in the driver’s seat.”

Although Funny, It Leaves a Bitter Taste

The video is simultaneously funny and discomforting (especially for anyone on a gluten-free diet). Some of his viewers will certainly feel offended at the video and want to defend a gluten-free philosophy (I do believe there are genuine medical and nutritional reasons for eliminating gluten from a diet) but for those familiar with the dynamics of eating disorders, Sears seems to put his finger on a contributing factor to many eating disorders: food choices may flow out of a sense of feeling more accomplished than or morally superior to those around us.

“I Would Feel Accomplished”

booksOver the past 12 years of working with anorexia I have often asked my clients how they would feel at the end of the day if they counted every calorie, restricted fats and carbs, only ate at approved times and burned more calories than they consumed (in other words, followed all of their “eating disorder rules”).

Almost universally they say something like, “I would feel accomplished.” This sense of accomplishment is deeply gratifying and yet never sufficient to prop up a self-image. You have to begin again the next day to feel accomplished once more.

Being “Somebody” Through Your Food Choices

This reminds me of a something Madonna said in a Vogue magazine interview,

‘My drive in life comes from a fear of being mediocre. That is always pushing me. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being but then I feel I am still mediocre and uninteresting until I do something else. Because even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody. My struggle has never ended and I guess it never will.”3

For many people this drive to prove they are “somebody” plays out in food. Many in our culture may change their diet, their exercise routine or give up gluten in an effort to push past being mediocre. For some this will simply be another “diet” that comes and goes, but for others avoiding gluten may be a part of a serious and life-threatening eating disorder.

What Do You Think?

Questions to ponder:

  • What do you think about nutritional and diet trends?
  • How do food and exercise choices affect your self-concept?
  • Do you judge yourself or others on the basis of food choices?
  • What do you believe is a more stable basis for self-image than food choices?
  • How do you become more discerning about the latest nutritional trends?

Learn more about eating disorders and gluten.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How do we become more discerning about the latest nutritional trends?

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oht9AEq1798
  2. Quoted in Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller, p. 72

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 18th, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

Previous post: Males in Treatment for Eating Disorders: What to Expect

Next post: Breaking the Social Stigmas of Bulimia

Search Eating Disorder Hope