On the one hand, we have a very influential media that puts forth a very, shall we say, “narrow” standard of beauty, one that screams “thin is in.” In fact, this standard is often taken to dangerous extremes, as we see in countless heartbreaking cases of young women caught in the grip of anorexia and bulimia, and in particular with girls who begin to obsess with their body image at earlier and earlier ages every year.
On the other hand, we cannot deny an obesity crisis in America. We are fatter than ever, and the main reasons for this are the kinds and amounts of foods we eat. It’s typical in this nation for one person to sit down in a restaurant to a plate of food that could feed three – and the food is typically processed, laden with high fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates.
It’s a dangerous combination that is literally killing us by the hundreds of thousands.
And yet, there are people who, understandably tired of being judged on what is solely their appearance, want us to accept being fat as normal and healthy.
So since we are worried about kids having distorted body images and disordered eating on the one hand, and another kind of disordered eating where food is actively causing harm, where do we strike the balance?
It’s Not by Going on a Diet
Diets don’t work! At least not as traditionally understood and practiced. A UCLA study conducted in 2007 was the Study of Diet Studies. Tracking the eating activities of over 19,000 participants, guess what the researchers concluded was the biggest predictor of weight gain. It was if someone had been on a diet in the last couple of years! In other words, if you choose to diet, you are more likely to gain weight than someone who doesn’t. Also, 83% of people who lost weight on diets gained back MORE than they had lost.
This is because when we diet, we focus on the wrong things – pounds on the scale, inches around the waist, or some other indicator that is very hard to measure in the present. It takes weeks before you might feel your clothes fitting a bit looser, months before you might fit into your old clothes.
It’s challenging at best to stay focused on a goal that seems so far out of reach, and all too easy to give up when the results don’t come fast enough.
Additionally, there are so many diets out there, it’s overwhelming. They often require some kind of deprivation that goes against your nature, and makes it psychologically difficult to stick with, never mind physically. Plus, the deprivation mentality actually works against your body’s efforts to do what’s in your best interests for survival!
The fact is, most of the diets won’t work for you.
One way of eating will. And it takes time to figure out which one that is.
What Food Can Do For You – Now!
So how can eating right give you that visceral sense of immediate gratification that we humans long for – you know, the kind of pleasure that so many of us might derive from a few slices (or more!) of pepperoni pizza, or that pint of Ben and Jerry’s? We’ve long been told that eating healthy is an experience of deprivation and sacrifice that requires perseverance, will power, and an ability to deal with feeling grumpy and unfulfilled.
Well let me tell you, if that’s your experience, you’re NOT eating right. You’re eating wrong!
Making the switch to nutritional excellence and making better choices lead quickly to results you can feel. You may initially go through a period of discomfort as your body eliminates toxins and works to restore balance. But once you actually start figuring out what foods really work for you and fuel your body properly, you’ll be amazed. You will derive the kind of pleasure from eating that doesn’t just linger on the palate. It’s the kind of pleasure that lasts from one meal to the next.
Intuitive eating – learning to truly be in touch with what our bodies are telling us they need does take a little time, practice, and support. Once you get it down, you will realize that food is not only supposed to taste good, but it’s also supposed to make us feel good. And not just at the point of contact. It’s supposed to give us a sense of well-being throughout the day. If you shift your focus there, to what food can do for you instead of what food does TO you, you’ll find the weight will eventually take care of itself, and you’ll be happy in your healthy body no matter what.