It can be tricky to figure out what balance looks like when it comes to healthy eating. Most of the time, your body will send you signals about what it needs by making you crave chocolate if you're low on iron, or giving you a hankering for broccoli if you've been skimping on the greens. Camila Mendes's Instagram post about dieting, which she posted in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, explained how she personally got to a place of trusting herself and her body's cues to help her maintain a sense of balance.
About a year ago, Mendes wrote in the caption to her post, the 24-year-old actor made the decision to stop dieting, and to stop "chasing this idea of a body that i was conditioned to believe is the only acceptable shape." Mendes explained, "i was never concerned with weight and numbers, but i cared a lot about having a flat tummy, no cellulite, and those 'give that girl a sandwich' arms."
But things really started to change for the Riverdale star when she started focusing on her health from a perspective of self-care, rather than one of appearances or aesthetics. "i started thinking more generally: am i drinking enough water? getting enough sleep? eating enough veggies? i started trusting myself," she explained, "and trusting that i care enough about my well-being to make healthy choices more often than not."
Finding more joy and freedom in her food choices has been a crucial part of Mendes' journey toward self-acceptance, according to her Instagram post. And sometimes, she wrote, that journey has included making seemingly "bad" choices, "because those made me feel free, and like i wasn’t trapped in an unhappy lifestyle."
While Mendes admitted in her post that she was initially scared to let go of the restrictions she'd placed on herself, once she managed to do it, she wrote that she was much "healthier and happier" overall. She wrote,
i’m just here to remind you that your healthy body deserves love. there is a life for you in which you can be healthy in both mind and body. it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but whenever i struggle, i always come back to this: why should i care to look like a runway model when my curves got me lookin’ like a damn fertile, renaissance goddess 🙌🏽 find the beauty in your body. i promise you it’s there.
In addition to letting go of that sense of control, Mendes told Shape back in October 2018 that seeing a therapist and a nutritionist also helped her change her relationship with food. "So much of the anxiety I had about food went away when I started learning more about nutrition," she said. "My nutritionist completely cured my fear of carbs."
As important as Mendes' message is in terms of self-care for your physical body, the Riverdale actress also seems to recognize the importance of mental health. In February, she opened up about stress on Instagram and shared a photo of The Five Minute Journal, which she said she uses to help her incorporate gratitude into her routine. "sometimes i focus way too much on the negative, like many of us do, and too easily i forget to give value to all the amazing things that have happened in my life," she wrote in the post's caption. "there is so much to be grateful for that we should be acknowledging on a daily basis."
Mendes' perspective is definitely inspiring, but it's important to point out that, just like you and me, she's human, which means she still has those days when she's not 100 percent confident in herself. Everyone has those days. "Every once in a while I’ll look at myself in the mirror and think, Ugh, I don’t like the way that looks," she told Shape.
But what Mendes doesn't do is allow herself to give in to that negativity. "I think it’s natural to judge or be critical of yourself. Everyone does it," she explained. "But you can make the decision on the spot that you're going to conquer it."
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237, text 741741, or chat online with a Helpline volunteer here.