Archives for November, 2010
I regularly feature Q&As with individuals who’ve recovered from eating disorders, binge eating, negative body image and any kind of disordered eating. If you’d like to share your story of recovery, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's been a while since I've published a personal story about eating disorder recovery. So I'm so pleased to present Nina's story of recovery. Nina writes on the website helpforeatingdisorder.com. After struggling with various eating disorders for close to 10 years, Nina is now recovered. Below, she shares her story and discusses the importance of comprehensive treatment and finding what works for you.
Mondays can be rough for many of us, and this doesn’t create the ideal environment for building a better body image. To help you turn that around, every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image – and kick-start the week on a positive note. Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you! I used to look outside for everything. Specifically everything that I should have looked on the inside for. Things like happiness, validation, confidence and self-esteem. I wasn't aware of my beauty until someone acknowledged it. If I didn't hear it often, then clearly it wasn't true.
I've talked before about the importance of being grateful for our bodies and what they do. Being grateful for our bodies helps improve our body image. We see that we are more than arbitrary sizes or weights. We see our bodies for what they truly are: amazing, beautiful and intricate vehicles of life. They carry us and give us breath. Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that today - and always - that you remember to be thankful for your body. That even in the pain, gratitude is still there. That even in the mundane, gratitude is still there, too.
In our society, food is either feared or narrowly viewed as fuel. When it's feared, people restrict, stay away from high-calorie foods, choose low-fat versions and go on diets. Inevitably, food fears lead to guilt, shame and overeating. When people see food as fuel, they take the pure enjoyment out of it. And eating becomes robotic and also restrictive.
Navigating the holidays - like food and family - can be tough, especially if you're struggling to recover from an eating disorder or other eating or body image issues. Last week, I talked with Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel about some great ideas for having a wonderful holiday. Specifically, we spoke about navigating "healthy" eating advice, enjoying a fat-talk-free holiday and overcoming overeating. Today, I'm pleased to present my interview with eating disorder specialist and clinical psychologist Sarah Brotsky, Ph.D, who offers more insight into coping and enjoying the holidays. You can learn more about Sarah and her work here.
Mondays can be rough for many of us, and this doesn't create the ideal environment for building a better body image. To turn that around, every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image - and kick-start the week on a positive note. Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you! Last week, I talked about how I yearned to essentially look like everyone else, because I wanted to be beautiful. And beautiful, to me, came in a specific form. And my form wasn't that form. It was different. And I didn't like looking different from the majority of people, from the people who were considered beautiful.
In college, I used to overeat on the weekends. You know, because during the week, I had to be "good.” And being good meant a whole lot of restricting, and ignoring my body's hunger cues. So during the weekends, I felt like I had to pack in all the foods I really liked. The foods I feared during the week. The foods that I was convinced would make me fat. And somehow ugly. After a while, though, I stopped tasting the food. I became a robot with food traveling down the conveyor belt of my esophagus. Because bingeing is one of the consequences that typically happens when we don’t give ourselves unconditional permission to eat. When we restrict. When we diet.
Yesterday, clinical social workers and authors Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel provided some great insight into navigating all the "healthy eating" advice we're bombarded with in the beginning of - and throughout - the holiday season. But reading articles on what not to eat and how not to gain weight in magazines and on the Internet isn't the only issue. Oftentimes, we don't have to go far to hear the fat talk. At holiday parties and family gatherings, it's common to talk about "being good," to speak badly about yourself if you've overeaten, comment on your own figure or others and make comparisons about what others are eating. The talk inevitably turns to dieting, fat grams, calories, weight loss and weight gain and sinful meals. Fat talk can make us feel uncomfortable, at the very least. But most likely, it makes us feel guilty and ashamed and makes our body image take a nosedive. If kids are listening - and most likely they are - they pick up on these damaging words and start to question their own eating choices and their own bodies. So I asked Judith and Ellen, authors of The Diet Survivors, how they suggest steering the conversation to something more meaningful and positive. They said:
November doesn't just mark the beginning of cooler weather and Thanksgiving celebrations; it also signals the arrival of "healthy eating" advice. The advice that reveals a slew of secrets on how to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, what to do when faced with a buffet and, as Self magazine puts it, "how to dodge holiday diet traps." The underlying (or blatant) message of this advice is that there's a danger of gaining tons of pounds during the holidays, and you better run or hide from food because you simply can't handle yourself. We're taught that we should fear food and weight gain. We're warned against enjoying food too much: If you're going to "indulge," do so in little itty bitty quantities. Some of the advice is downright disturbing, and no doubt it makes many of us confused and anxious. Since this advice is seriously everywhere, I asked Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, clinical social workers and authors of the fantastic book The Diet Survivor's Handbook, to offer some sane advice on navigating the healthy eating tips and tricks. (BTW, I highly recommend their book, especially for the holiday season, since New Year's resolutions are right around the corner. And dieting is a big one.) Q: In November, inevitably we'll be inundated with advice on how to eat healthy during the holidays and how to prevent the supposedly whopping weight gain. I think all of this advice just makes people more and more anxious about eating and actually enjoying the holidays. What do you think is the impact of this advice on readers? A: We live in a culture that normalizes the obsession with food, weight and dieting. As you point out, when the holiday season rolls around, the media – especially women’s magazines – gives advice to readers about what to eat, what not to eat, how to get thinner or how to avoid weight gain. This advice is offered as the way to take good care of yourself, but it actually backfires on many levels.
Every Monday features a tip, exercise, inspiring quote or other tidbit to help boost your body image. For many of us, Mondays are tough. We may feel anxious and stressed out, anticipating an arduous week, especially if we didn’t get much rest and relaxation during the weekend. These kinds of feelings don’t create the best environment for improving one’s body image. In fact, you might be harder on yourself and easily frustrated. You might even feel like you’re walking on egg shells – with yourself! With these posts, I hope you’ll have a healthier and happier body image day, that’ll last throughout the week. When I moved to Florida with my parents when I was 13, I noticed that most people didn't really look like me. Instead, many of the girls were slim, small, blond and tan.