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  • Jason Wood

Jason's Journal: March Madness

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year. I spend the first days of the college basketball tournament glued to the television. I am a self-proclaimed bracketologist—winner of the office pool for 3 out of the last 4 years. Two years ago, I won free wings for a year at Buffalo Wild Wings for having a perfect bracket for one round. An ironic prize for someone at the height of his eating disorder, who eventually turned vegetarian!

I’m an avid sports fan, but I’m also a competition addict. I was born with a competitive personality. Just ask my husband, Matt, about some of our early dates. I can turn bowling or mini-golf into a Hunger Games-style competition.

I think this personality trait contributed to my eating disorder. I used to compete with myself over the healthiest foods to eat. Each day was a competition to see if I could eat cleaner and more nutritious than before. The scale was my scoreboard, displaying my progress and letting me know if I won or lost. Every morning was either the sweet taste of victory or the bitter sting of defeat.

The light bulb illuminated in my head while filling out my brack this week. I was not just competing with myself back then. I was pitting food against each other. My outlook on food looked just like the NCAA March Madness Tournament Bracket. Based on social media posts and fad diet bloggers, I ranked foods in my head. They were seeded based upon their “health,” just like the teams are ranked by their resumes.

The structure of the bracket dwindles the number of teams down until we arrive at the champion. We go from 64 teams in the first round down to 32, and so on until only one team remains. Orthorexia worked similarly. I started with a decent number of “good” foods, but as the disease took full hold, foods were pitted against each other. The losers were off my approved list and deemed forbidden. At the rate I was going, it wouldn’t have been long until I was at the Final Four.

Thankfully, my bracket has is busted! The food one, that is. Recovery is opening my eyes to the benefits of all foods. My body needs energy in all shapes and sizes to perform well. Foods don’t need a ranking system like college basketball teams. They don’t need to compete with each other. There is no champion food.

Let’s leave the competition on the hardwood. Sports should be competitive with winners and losers. Eating should not. If we allow competition into our diets, then the only loser will be ourselves in the long run. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, would prefer to remain undefeated!


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