One thing my old therapist W always emphasized was how prevalent eating disorders are on college campuses, and that I would have to be extra super vigilant about not comparing my body and my diet to others'. Last year I lived with three girls, and two of them probably had some disordered eating habits. Not full-blown EDs per se, but definite Food Issues. They were both a little overweight, and they went on and off diets repeatedly. Honestly, I never really found it that triggering because I wouldn't have deviated from my self-imposed regime under any circumstances. I never would have broken my own rigid ED rules and it didn't really matter to me what other people were doing. I just stuck to my lettuce and Diet Coke, thank you very much.
This year is totally different. For various reasons, I am only living with one girl from last year - not one of the aforementioned girls with Food Issues - and another of our friends. Both of these girls are literally two of the most normal eaters I've ever seen. They eat cereal without measuring it. They eat pretzels out of the bag. They pack snacks for long days on campus. They cook pasta with sauce for dinner. They - wait for it - drink juice. With calories.
Last night I was eating my perfectly portioned snack when one of my roommates came into the kitchen. She said, "That looks good," and made some for herself. I stared for ten minutes. How did she know it was okay to eat that without planning? Without counting calories?!?
Peer pressure is a funny thing. I've always been hugely insecure and conscious about how people perceive me, but most of the pressure has come from within myself instead of from my peers. This is true for all areas - appearances, grades, achievements, etc. If I got a B on a test, I wouldn't be upset that someone else got a B+. I would be upset that I didn't get an A. I think W was afraid that I woud see skinny girls picking at lettuce and working out for hours, and be influenced by that because if she can do it then why can't I? In our last session, W told me over and over again not to be influenced by what anyone else was eating (or not). But even at my worst, other girls never really triggered me at school because I knew what I needed to do. Eat X. Lose weight. No questions asked.
Now, I'm kind of hoping that the peer pressure will kick in and work for me in the other direction - that by seeing my roommates eating what they want, when they want it, and not freaking out about it, I might start to loosen up too. Look, A just ate something and didn't get fat. Maybe I can too.