Est 3.5 min read
When you are in recovery from anything, typically the foundation is shame focused. There's something wrong with you, you're broken, you need to use your willpower and turn your life around, get your shit together, so to speak. Unfortunately, that paradigm has likely deeply influenced your relationship with food and your body.
Have you ever said to yourself… I know what I should do, I just can't seem to do it, I'm a sugar addict, there's something wrong with me, I'm out of control, I can't trust myself, or I'm broken? This is internalized diet culture and anti-fat bias in play. You got the message that if you are struggling with food or your body image, there is something wrong with you. Those messages create shame wiring.
For example, typically what happens when you eat in a way that feels out of control or you soothe using food, you “eat emotionally” then you will beat yourself up and feel like there's something bad or wrong with you. Or if you are not what you or society considers an ideal weight (don't forget the BMI is bogus), a lot of times you'll internalize the anti-fat bias around that and beat yourself up. The whole of these experiences creates more and more shame.
Shame is created by those diet culture messages that tell you there's something wrong with you, that your value and your worth is tied to your appearance or how you're eating. It's also related to achievement energy - feeling like your worth is based on doing things.
Shame increases your allostatic load. Allostatic load is the overall wear and tear of stress on your body, roughly equivalent to inflammation in your body. It is bad for your mental health to have shame but it's also bad for you physically, and shame keeps you stuck in the cycle. As your allostatic load increases, it's harder to regulate your nervous system, which then makes you need to regulate your nervous system using a default, called auto regulation. For many the auto regulation tendency is to use food to soothe, emotional eating and/or binge eating, and again perpetuating shame.
Shame dysregulates your nervous system. Another impact of nervous system dysregulation is that you can't experience effective change. Effective change happens from a place of a regulated nervous system. It's really important to make sure that you're regulating your nervous system to make sure that you are caring for yourself as much as possible, using as much kindness and compassion as you can to really come to that place of regulation and change.
Shame doesn't work, it only makes everything worse, physically, mentally, emotionally, and it will prevent you from being able to have the relationship with food and your body that you really want.
Throwing shame out the window is actually the number one key to secure attachment, effective change and life affirming, meaningful recovery. Secure attachment is based on body attunement (learning and responding to your body's signals, developing attunement, connection, and trust with your body to guide your decisions around food and your body).
Let's throw the shame out of recovery, quit using shaming language like…sugar addict, there's something wrong with me, I know what I should do, I'm just not doing it, I'm sabotaging myself… all of that type of language.
Recognize that you (and others who struggle with food or body image) didn't develop a secure attachment with food because you didn't learn it growing up, or because of other barriers. There is nothing wrong with you. It has nothing to do with willpower or worth.
Shame is preventing you from having the relationship with food and your body that you really want. It can be really hard to throw that shame out the window because it's often wiring that goes way back for some people, even infancy that goes back to childhood. It's deeply ingrained and it's also all around us; that diet culture BS and all those messages that we get. It's helpful to get support from people in shame FREE environments, using shame free methods. I definitely create a judgment free zone in my programs so if I can be supportive to you, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download your free hunger scale now!
The first step to healing our relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals our body gives us. 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.