Est 5 min read
In the diet culture world, there are so many mantras like ‘no pain, no gain’. They are designed to give you the false idea that to finally accept yourself, all you have to do is try harder, push more, have more willpower, push through, or keep going (at all costs).
Unfortunately, that messaging increases preoccupation and anxiety around food in your body. Pushing harder will never lead to balance, healing, joy, satisfaction, or ease in your relationship with food and your body. Control will never lead to peace. What works is moving toward secure attachment, being in relationship with food and being in relationship with your body.
When people come to work with me, they are very worried that they don't have the bandwidth, willpower, or that they don't have what it takes to do this, because they've tried so many things in the past and none of them have worked. They've internalized those diet culture messages that tell you that if it's not working something is wrong with you and that it's your fault.
First off, let's redefine what works. To me, the most important thing is how you feel about your relationship with food and your relationship with your body. Is your relationship built on connection and trust? Is it nurturing and supportive of you- where you're at in any given moment? It needs to be flexible and fluid because different things are going to feel nurturing at different times in your life.
It's time to redefine success to having a good relationship with food and your body versus thinking that weight loss equals success.
Take an honest look at what the pain of self hatred is costing you. Are you using diet culture pathways to try and control or manage your body, trying to eat perfectly, or the opposite, just ignoring everything like head in the sand (a more avoidant attachment style)? These ways of dealing with your body perpetuate self hatred. Diet culture makes you believe that there's something wrong with you, that your value and worth are tied to whether you eat perfectly, or how you look.
Even if you are not caught up in dieting, you likely still have shame about your eating habits and your body. In addition, you may be behaving in the more avoidant way of attachment with food and body- disregarding your body's signals, not really being in tune, not supporting or nurturing yourself. That's going to perpetuate self hatred as well because you're not acting in a loving way toward yourself.
There isn't anything wrong with making your relationship with food and your body less of a priority or not being focused on “health”. But if it's not supporting your well being, it's going to still perpetuate a lot of that negative self-talk and disconnection with self.
The solution is to move toward secure attachment. Focus on healing your relationship with food and your body. It may be uncomfortable, but instead of the pain of shame, it's the discomfort of growth. This is going to feel really different. It's time to stop the fight against your body and instead fight against the internalized anti-fat bias and diet culture messages.
Ask yourself the following….
Why do I think being thin is better?
What's my belief around value and worth in the world?
Do I actually believe that my value and my worth is constant and non negotiable and inherent?
If not, what are the barriers to that?
What messages did I receive that tells me that my value is conditional, my worth is not inherited, I'm not inherently worthy, my worth is tied to my appearance, achievements, what I ate today, or how much I weigh?
Where do I receive those messages?
What other things get in the way of knowing my value and worth are inherent?
What do I need to forgive myself for?
You have to look deep and that's going to mean looking at some wounds that have been festering and unhealed for a really long time. For most people that come to work with me, it's decades, like 40 years of this 50 years of this. That's really painful at times to look at and there can be so much relief in recognizing this isn't your fault. There's nothing wrong with you, you are not a shameful, terrible person. You are somebody who lives in this diet culture world and you have been exposed to all of these shaming messages and you've internalized some of those. There's nothing inherently bad or wrong with you.
There can be a really big relief in externalizing these ideas and this capitalist driven messaging that tells you that your body is a commodity, and that you need to fight against it to make it desirable to someone else.
Trying to motivate yourself through self hatred, never works. It feels terrible and there's no relief from it. It's never ending and never leads to that peace, balance, or positive relationship with food and your body. When you are willing to shift from the pain of self hatred into the pain or the discomfort of healing, there's relief. Yes, it takes sustained focus, it's challenging, there's gonna be so much crying, and there's a lot of grief that has to be faced. But you actually get through to the other side and then you can feel peace, self-acceptance, love, integration and wholeness. I think it's worth it; even just letting go of self hatred is a tremendous relief for most people.
Know that if you're on this path it can be really, really heavy and really hard, but it works, and it's beautiful. The outcome is a relationship with food and your body that actually feels nurturing and supportive to you where you're at in your life, every day.
Download your free hunger scale now!
The first step to healing your relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals your body gives you. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale..