There are many things that drive this including body image issues which are fueled by advertising/media/film/tv industry that tend to show only one kind of woman on screen, that being a 25 year old woman with a runway model figure and flawless skin. Apparently 37 year old women are too old to play the partner of a 60+ year old in the movies (the very talented Maggie Gyllenhaal mentioned missing out on a role due to this last year in an interview).
We now also compete with photoshop, an image that is not real, Cindy Crawford was quoted as saying she wished she looked like Cindy Crawford! Until we start to see more women in the media allowed to be natural and look their age we will continue to feel not good enough. Thank goodness for the likes of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Melissa McCarthy, Maggie Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, Sandra Bullock and others who are leading the way!
The other major issue is the myth that weight loss is simply about calories in/calories out. Otherwise known as the glutton/sloth theory. I’m sure you have heard it before, if you are overweight, it means you overeat and/or don’t exercise enough and clearly have no self-control. Although science is now uncovering so many factors that effect our weight including our microbiome (gut bacteria), insulin resistance, POPs (persistent organic pollutants), stress, sleep and emotions to name a few. The extremely flawed glutton/sloth theory refuses to disappear!
This is one of the things driving emotional eating. Imagine that every time you ate, people judged you or you hated yourself because they/you know you are a glutton, sloth and have no self control, how would you feel? I know how it feels and wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I am sure many relate to this intense feeling of shame. This of course can become a major driver of the love/hate relationship with food.
For many people the conversation is always about right/wrong, good/bad, self-control/being out-of-control, reward/shame and often numbing ourselves so we don’t feel the pain/stress of this conversation that continues non-stop in our head! The conversation simply should be about what do I need and what will nourish me, that’s it!
To make it worse, all of this has been made worse by the extremely flawed dietary recommendations that have been pushed on us over the past 40 years or so, demonising fat and lots of really healthy nourishing foods such as eggs. We dutifully avoided/reduced fat and turned to refined carbohydrates which stopped our body’s ability to know when it was full, totally messing up our hunger hormones, our metabolism and cutting our connection to our bodies because “the experts knew better than you”, even if it didn’t feel right. Rather than a conversation about nourishment, it became a conversation only about calories.
I now make my food choices based on which foods will nourish my body and soul, which foods give me energy, help me function, balance my hormones etc. I make choices about what I need at the time by checking in with my body to listen to it’s important signals, am I hungry? What do I need? What will help nourish me so I feel good and can get through the day and also be able to sleep well at the end of the day.
When you check in with your body and make an active choice about what you need, your choices tend to be better overall. It also carries a very different much more positive energy than control/good/bad etc. Sometimes my active choice may be to eat some chips/crisps or a cake etc, that’s OK, I choose it, eat as much as I need and move on. No shame, no good or bad, just move on. Now I am connected to my body, I know how different foods makes me feel, I largely make good nutritional choices for myself because I want to continue to feel good!
Next time you stop to eat, ask yourself “what will nourish me”, check in with your body, over time you will learn to read the signals and know what you need. Forgive yourself and be patient if it doesn’t happen immediately. It took a lifetime to get where you are now, give yourself time to get to a better place.
Next time you go to judge someone for being overweight, my advice would be to mind your own business and if the topic is of interest to you, get educated, help people, don’t judge them. Be part of the solution not part of the problem!
At Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing, we help our clients reconnect with their body, change the conversation and learn how to nourish themselves. Contact us for more information.