Do you “sneak” a piece or two (or many more) of candy at Halloween? Or a slice of cake at a birthday party? Does the desire for a late-night snack turn into a spiral of emotional eating and overeating? Guilt and shame around eating something we feel we shouldn’t prevents us from actually enjoying the item we desire. To make matters worse, guilt and shame can then drive additional food cravings. These “secondary cravings” are no longer about the original simple desire to eat the food, but instead use food to numb the uncomfortable feelings. This pattern of an adversarial relationship with food can be a hard to break!
If you starve yourself to be thin will this make you healthier? Can a number on the scale determine an individual’s health status? Health and weight are related concepts that can directly affect each other, but it’s overly simplistic to think that weight decides an individual’s health. Studies often site “weight” as the culprit for many of the world’s health problems but given the multitude of variables that are difficult to control, it’s hard to prove a particular number on the scale is the key factor. Yes, unhealthy behaviors will lead to weight gain, and there are many people who have weight-related health problems. But not everyone with extra weight is unhealthy.
In a society enthralled with selfies, surrounded by images portraying what appears to be the “ideal” body size and shape, it’s easy to feel negative about the parts of our appearance that fall outside this cookie-cutter standard. Instead of celebrating differences, body-positivity, and focusing on health; the number on the scale can become the deciding factor for mood and self-worth. Negative self-talk and self-loathing don’t help. Food ends up being viewed as an adversary instead of a life-sustaining and nurturing gift to be enjoyed. Instead of being amazed at the way our body works and how nourishment helps it function, a complicated pattern develops that can include food restriction, mindless eating, cravings, shame, self-loathing, and overeating. No one wins in this trap and stress only makes it that much more tricky. Positive self-talk and self-love are possible!