Dieting is saturated in shame and judgment. But those aren’t the only cons to restricting your intake.
Many people think that dieting will keep their eating in control. That they need these rules and some kind of structure to keep them “eating right” or “eating healthy.” And they think that giving up dieting will make them feel out of control and all over the place.
But it’s actually quite the opposite: Dieting keeps you oppressed and, while it gives the illusion of control, there’s nothing empowering about it.
Below, Judith Matz, an eating disorder expert and co-author of the book Diet Survivors Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care, dispels these common diet myths. She also reveals the true oppression of dieting and how attuned eating (i.e., not dieting) leads to freedom and helps you feel in charge.
Our society is used to viewing diets as no big deal. If you need to lose a few pounds – or more – you just get on a diet, and restrict what you eat, count your calories, sip on a shake or swear off sugar.
We think that dieting will solely affect just one area of our lives: eating.
But dieting actually affects your entire life. It stops you from being fully present, and keeps you preoccupied, ashamed and oppressed – among other things.
Hey guys! Today is an American holiday, so I thought it’d be fun to post an oldie (which hopefully you think is a goodie!) from the archives. I hope you find it helpful!
Update: By the way, please check out this super short post from Psych Central’s founder John Grohol. As someone who’s an immigrant — now happily a US citizen — I’m incredibly grateful to the men and women who’ve fought and continue to fight for our freedom. In fact, some of my family members survived because of American soldiers during WWII. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Recently I’ve decided to create an inspiration board to fuel, motivate and enliven my writing. When I’m having a tough time finding ideas or it’s been a rough day, I can turn to my inspiration board for comfort, a creativity boost and essentially a visual reminder of what’s important.
Many professionals use inspiration boards regularly, including interior decorators, fashion designers and wedding planners. Moms use them, too, for daily inspiration.
So I was thinking, why not do the same to improve your body image?
Yesterday I talked about Susan Albers’s book Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food and featured her valuable idea of committing to a “mindful eating contract.”
This got me thinking about what a body image contract might look like, too.
While I think it’s important to be flexible and curious, I do think spelling out what a positive body image means to you is important.
So, today, I’m including some guidelines for a contract — to remind me and you about our priorities and really what we stand for. (I’ll be using Albers’s same format of “I agree…”)
“The dieting lifestyle is akin to taking a knife and cutting the connection that is your body’s only line of communication with your head,” writes clinical psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, in her book Eating Mindfully: How to End Mindless Eating & Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food.
In other words, “Diets can inhibit your ability to accurately decode your body’s messages and feedback,” she says. (Like your hunger and satiety signals.) Diets are also detrimental to our emotional, mental and physical well-being, she says.
But even if you know that dieting is destructive, giving it up, especially in a culture that extols and advertises restriction, can be really hard.
Lately, in addition to going to Pilates classes at my gym, I’ve been doing cardio kickboxing and TRX, which are pretty intense (and very fun). They get my heart rate up, and I can feel the negative energy, thoughts and ruminations just ooze out of me.
For me, exercise is also a great myth-buster. That’s because ever since I was little, my automatic assumption has been that I’m weak and can’t do A, B or X.
With a few exceptions, I’m not sure that I’ve really ever thought to myself, “Oh, yea, I can totally do this.” It’s been more like a hestitant, “Umm, OK, I’ll give a try, but don’t expect something spectacular.”
Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts 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!
When we’re dissatisfied with our bodies, that seems to be the only thing we can focus on. It’s like we take out our magnifying glass, poring over and spotlighting all of our supposed “flaws.” Our lives may even start to revolve around the dissatisfaction.
Soon, we go from being kind, hardworking, smart and caring people to being the woman with the wide hips or the huge thighs or the big belly.
Our minds start to spin a web of false stories, moving us away from being whole to consisting of a few flaws or to doubting our other qualities. We reduce ourselves and no accomplishment or quality is good enough until we lose weight or until we get more muscular or fix whatever flaw we’ve decided we have.
When you’re eating away your emotions and you start feeling the heaviness of shame, the last thing you probably want to do is connect to your self-compassion. The last thing you probably want to do is be kinder to yourself or comfort yourself.
When I’d stuff my feelings with food, I felt confused, out of control, embarrassed and alone. And it’s funny that it’s in those very moments that I needed to crank up the self-compassion — but it seemed so hard. And, honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind.
But it’s important for all of us, especially in those times of trouble and distress, to lend a hand — to ourselves.
Today I wanted to do something a little different and share a poem I originally wrote for my personal blog. Even though I’ve largely gotten over my weight worries and body image issues, it’s interesting to see the traces of insecurities that still remain.
I’ve talked before about how my past appearance-based self-doubts morphed into other insecurities.
But I’ve only briefly mentioned my iffiness about my looks in general and my not-so-thick hair in particular. That’s the topic I tackle below.