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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why You Must Be Careful as You Diet...

This list is one small example of why, in our skinny-obsessed culture, we must be vigilant not to fall into the "I want to be as skinny as Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie or Heather Locklear or Madonna or Victoria Beckham" trap. Aspiring whole-heartedly to reaching a radical slenderness can be the first step to an ED.

Eating disorders abound. You do know that, right? Many of the lovely celebrities we applaud for slenderness and super-toned bodies have had issues with or still struggle with their eating. Setting unrealistic standards sets people up for EDs. Don't use a super-slim celebrity as your role model. Think health first, beauty second.

Make sure you keep your relationship with food sane. Make sure you focus on your own body, because your anatomy and physiology--your height, your structure, your metabolism, your genetics, your medical issues, your strengths, your weaknesses--are uniquely yours. Many of you will not fit into a size 4 without crazy dieting and daily hours of exercise.

And some of you, even with crazy dieting, will never reach a size 4 or a 2. It's not meant for you. Picking a number because it's fashionable is not really smart.

Pick numbers because they make sense.

Unrealistic expectations can enslave you.

So: Set reasonable goals. Once you meet those, then you'll know how low your body can sanely, comfortably, healthfully go AND MAINTAN with joy in your life. If it's only to a size 16, 14, or 12. Or 10. Or 8, then so be it. Accept your individual reality. Not everyone was created to be tiny. And some who are only get there by starving or purging. And that is crazy.

For folks from certain spiritual traditions, eating excessively is called the sin of gluttony. Focusing too much on food, even if one is thinner, could be a form of gluttony, because all the thin-glutton thinks about is what to eat: what they can't eat, what they won't eat, what they shouldn't eat, what they can eat, is it time to eat, no, don't eat, can't eat. Whether too much, or too little, it's two extremes of the same problem.

(Note: When making weight-loss or weight-gain efforts, yes, one must think a lot about it for the sake of establishing new customs and habits and preferences. So, yes, you and I will have to think and plan and relearn, but if you feel a compulsive or out-of control sort of craziness about food, beware. That might be a sign. Just regular frustration at making changes and cutting calories, etc--we all have to deal with that until we learn how to eat properly and portion accurately. It's a sad fact. Just don't tip over into obession and mania.)

A person who binges is a glutton, no matter the size. But a person whose main concern is looking-good is vain. In some religions, that's a sin, too, and a traditionally "deadly" one. Eating too much, so much that you become badly overweight or obese, is self-destructive. The vanity that leads to starving in order to be a size 4 is also a kind of self-destruction, only it gets praised by people who don't see the costs of it to the individual's peace of mind or soul.

Find equilibrium. Enjoy eating. Enjoy meals. Learn how to eat with pleasure, but without gaining. Balance. That's what we all need to seek. Neither to be overly vain about our appearance nor to be careless of our health (which does affect appearance, yes.) Neither to starve nor to binge. To care enough about ourselves to eat well and present ourselves with dignity and self-respect, no matter what number is on the back of our clothing.

Are you bingeing and purging? Are you cutting down your calories to an ill-advised low level (ie, regularly eating fewer than roughly 1200 calories without strict medical supervision)? Is all you care about losing it FAST, not losing it soundly? Are you frequently skipping meals or utilizing fasting for weight loss? Are you afraid to eat? Do you eat only one kind of food? Do you hide food/sneak food/eat closeted? Do you feel yourself overwhelmed because of your patterns of eating, and you see they are destructive in some way to your health?

If you suspect that you have an ED, please, please get help. Please. Call your insurance. Research online. See a psychologist that specializes in food issues.

If you are afraid, then find a friend to talk honestly about it. If you can't afford a psychologist or counselor, then find someone wise to listen and advise, someone who's overcome the same problem, or someone maybe from your religious community (many religious counselors will take patients who can't pay). Or maybe find a support group that doesn't cost an arm or a leg, like Overeaters Anonymous.
But, please, stop, ponder, and be careful as you make changes to your diet and as you set goals. Always, be kind to your spirit and body and mind.

1 comment:

Chubby Chick said...

Being stick-thin... like so many of the women you've mentioned... has never appealed to me, thank God. My goal in losing weight is to be healthy and strong while maintaining a healthy weight. I've never worn less than a size 18... and I imagine that fitting into a size 12 or 14 would be just fine for my height and frame.

Oh... yes, I will certainly post on the dress! I can't wait to get it and tell everyone all about it. Hopefully I'll have good news!

And hubby and I will definitely take it slow with the tennis. Our play will most likely resemble that of pre-schoolers or senior citizens... not that of Federer or Williams. lol