Category Archives: VIP Blogs

Getting out priorities straight around food…

Recovery from “feeling crazy around food,” really begins the moment we decide that we want sanity & freedom

more than we want thinness; more than we want our food to look a certain way.

there will no doubt be triggers towards restrictive thoughts and behaviors along the way; there will no doubt be struggles with body-image, diet-culture, or a desire to control;

but when we decide that our mental health is more valuable than trying to control our food and bodies at all costs; when we prioritize our mental health and well-being over whatever rationalization for dieting/body-hatred that our fear-brains have come up with that day,

that’s when we can finally do honest, effective work towards healing our relationship with food—that’s when we’re really on our way.

Every moment that we make a choice to put our recovery first—over our compulsive desire to control—is a moment that we stand for and move towards our own liberation.

This is the “the work” in a nutshell.

Click here for more reminders.

Rejecting Dualistic Thinking in Your Pursuit of “Health”

Understanding the “non-diet” approach, means understanding “health” on a spectrum basis,  and rejecting over-simplified, dualistic (aka “black” and “white”) interpretations of health in our culture.

In reality, there is no such thing as “100% health” or “100% un-health,”
but rather, we are constantly bouncing around between these imaginary endpoints,
falling on different points on different days, depending on a million factors.

The word “spectrum,” in fact, may itself be misleading,
as health (and health choices) do not fall on one two-dimensional line,
but rather, on a multidimensional matrix—a collage of intersecting realms of “health”
(e.g. physical health, emotional health, and evermore subsections beyond them).

In essence, “health” is not binary

it is not something we “do” or “don’t do,”
it is not something we “have” or “don’t have,”
and it is certainly not something at which we can “fail” or “succeed.”

Health is an ebbing, flowing, living web of choices and experiences,
that we navigate differently from day to day, depending on
our ever-changing priorities, environment, and personal circumstances.

More on this in my video series here.

A note about Intuitive Eating & “Health”

Let it be known, that choosing not to eat something that makes you feel physically unwell in no way conflicts with the non-diet approach.

In fact, this is what traditional descriptions of Intuitive Eating are all about…listening to how your body feels physically, and consideringits needs in your decision making process around food.

If there’s any confusion about this, read this book.

That being said,

“considering” my body’s needs is the operative word here.

As a practical matter, if I choose to eat something “unhealthy” (e.g. my desire to eat something my body doesn’t love outweighs the consequence of not feeling so hot later), it is fully within my right to make that decision.

My mental health and liberation require that I be empowered to make such decisions for myself, because—while diet culture tells us that our life’s “success” or “failure” with food depends exclusively on our BMI, waistline, or our physical health status

I choose to consider my holistic needs,

the complexity of my human experience,
my emotional state,
my desire for soothing,
my pleasure, my fun, my celebration,
my schedule,
my stress relief,
my demands at work and at home,
the physical and emotional resources available to me in any given moment,
which can never be compared to those of anyone else,

right next to my desire for “physical health,” however that may be defined.

And I know what you’re going to say… “but I shouldn’t get my pleasure or soothing from food—I should go to therapy or write in my journal instead!”

To which I say…therapy and journaling are great ways to pursue self-care! Give yourself what you need girl!

AND let’s acknowledge that we don’t live in a perfect world with every self-care option available to us at every moment, nor are our emotional circumstances so one-dimensional that journaling will always feel like an equal substitute to a bowl of ice cream and an episode of Friends.  

Sometimes a bowl of ice cream will be the best that we can do—it all depends on our personal circumstances, complex emotional needs, and what feels most holistically nourishing to us given the resources we have available to us in a particular moment in time.

the-weight-of-oppression-paulo-zerbato

Intro to Body Image Work:

The Weight of Oppression by Paulo Zerbato

Let’s be clear,

poor body image is not yet another thing you’re “doing wrong,” but is a natural reaction to oppression, and the distribution of social power on the basis of size.

 

As a result, managing this situation starts with re-framing the problem itself

from—

“What am I doing wrong that I can’t ‘get over’ this poor-body-image thing? (or can’t lose weight, can’t ‘eat right,’ etc.)”

to—

“How am I or others treated unequally, or granted social rewards or punishments, on the basis of size? How does living in a ‘thin-is-best’ culture affect me emotionally, physically, or otherwise? What are my options for responding to these forms of oppression when they come up around me, or affect my own thinking?”

When we re-frame the problem from “us” being the problem, to diet-culture being the problem, the solution starts to look very different.

For starters, this re-frame helps us understand that:

positive body image is not a singular goal to achieve, but rather, is an ongoing process of managing oppression, and developing the mental and emotional skills required to reject size-based prejudice—both towards ourselves and others—whenever we encounter it.

On that note, there are two core forms of oppression we must learn to resist to liberate ourselves from body-shame. 

#1 — Oppression in our External Environment. It’s important to recognize that oppression starts outside ourselves, with weight-biased messages from media, authority figures, personal influencers, etc. and is reinforced all throughout our external and social infrastructure (e.g. our health system, the fashion industry, basic engineering of living spaces, cars, planes, etc.)

Managing oppression in our external environment starts with developing consciousness around where society’s expectation of thinness legitimately affects your life, and starting to advocate for yourself and others in these areas.

More specific things you can do right away? Be conscious of the messages you’re consuming (on social media, press media, toxic friendships, etc.) and begin to identify and eliminate/reject fatphobic or weight-biased messaging wherever is possible (including “love-yourself-to-lose-weight” narratives—which appropriate body-positive messaging for diet-industry gain).

Additionally, make sure to INSERT body-positive messages wherever you can, and ideally, expose yourself to as many body-diverse photos/images as often as you can. While someone telling you “just love yourself!” might not do the trick, regularly looking at pictures of someone your size or bigger who DOES love themselves (or is at least willing to make themselves visible to you and others), will eventually start to affect your perception of bodies. It’s science. More on this here.

#2 — Internalized Oppression—e.g. negative self-talk & personal beliefs. Internalized oppression is a symptom of external oppression, or is the internalization of diet-culture narratives and beliefs. In other words, if I’m repeatedly told that my body isn’t good enough the way it is, I will eventually start to believe it. Internalized oppression is the brainwashing that occurs as a result of environmental oppression (e.g. advertisements, media, body-shaming, food-shaming, etc.)

Internalized oppression is why the diet-industry is so profitable, and has grown so rapidly over the past several decades—it is essentially, our commitment to pleasing our oppressors; our agreement that we are not good enough the way we are; our belief that we must tireless work to achieve thinness, or perform “correct eating” or else. 

Battling internalized oppression requires similar skills to battling external oppression—that is, the constant identification and rejection of fatphobic messages and ideas, even when they pop up from within our minds.

That being said, combatting internalized oppression comes with it’s own unique challenges in that—by definition— we don’t always see fatphobic messages as oppression, but rather believe these narratives to be fundamental truth. Challenging these messages (that is, coming up with the counter-arguments to these messages) is where the help of a trained professional or trusted advocate can be helpful, specifically someone with education in size justice issues.

In conclusion, it’s not just one thing that people do that changes their body image over time, but rather, it’s a whole collection of things (on-going challenging of thought patterns, regular exposure to body-positive ideas, images, media, etc.), most of which have to be repeated over and over again or we fall back into the paradigm of the normative culture. When you realize that the default setting on your external environment is designed to create body-dissatisfaction, it becomes clear that positive body image is not a thing to achieve, but is a muscle to develop and strengthen in the midst of an oppressive culture.

Want more stuff like this? Check out Stop Fighting Food, my Free Video Training Series by clicking here

*Art Image: The Weight of Oppression by Paulo Zerbato