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“You want me to what?” I asked my binge eating disorder therapist in disbelief. “Stop dieting?!” Back in 2011, I didn’t know what I do now—that the yo-yo dieting I’d been doing for decades kept me feeling horrible about myself and my body. The constant cycle of making impossible resolutions each morning about food and exercise, breaking them a few hours later, and then beating myself up for it, had me stuck in a negative feedback loop where I believed I had no willpower, was lazy, and had no self-control. The daily food battle kept me trapped in body shame and self-judgement.
Here are 3 radical actions to break free from body shame caused by our relationship to food.
- Stop weighing yourself. This takes away the judgement trigger that seeing the number on the scale often provokes. When I was down a few pounds, I’d feel great and then over-eat because I felt there was permission with the weight loss, but then I’d get angry and judge myself for over-eating. If I’d stayed the same or gained a few pounds, I’d starve myself as punishment and then over-eat, and then judge myself. A no-win situation!
- Give up on food math. From calories, to carbs, to points, you’ve got a food calculator in your brain. The problem is that eating according to math has nothing to do with feeling satisfied with what you’re eating, which means that you’ll “cheat” and that triggers shame because you’ve “failed”. Again.
- Buy all the foods & eat all the things (YAY!). Neuroscience research shows that feeling scarcity or lack compels us to find a way to stop the suffering. When it comes to food, that means we’ll indiscriminately eat whatever we can to stop the feelings of hunger….and then we judge ourselves for being driven to do what our brain begged us to do. So, stock your fridge and pantry with all the different types of foods, eat what you feel like eating, and you won’t feel scarcity. Instead, you’ll begin to trust yourself, eat more intuitively, and can break free of body shame.