If You Think Being Fat is Bad

You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad.  Worthy of mockery.  Deserving of shame.  The worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing.  It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.

But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people, does not make you bad.

If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.

While some people do become fatter for eating too much or never moving their bodies, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.

Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is holding onto.

It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind.  It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.

It is a physical condition, and that is all.

You can lose weight.  You can gain weight.  And in the end, you choose what you believe about it.  You choose what you do about it.

I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat.  Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).

What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.

If you are fat, how do you view yourself?

Lazy?  Glutton?  Unfortunate?  Ugly?  Victim?  Bad?

You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.

You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.

Hatred is bad.  Injustice is bad.  Bitterness is bad.

But extra weight is just extra weight.  Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.

Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.

Your body isn’t one of them.

Image from Pinterest.

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Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, BONUS

This is a bonus post to the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

You can read Parts 1-5 by clicking on the link above.

In this post, I wanted to give some additional tips and reinforcement that can help you stop binge eating:

  • Remember that you are not alone.  Many people struggle with binge eating.  It’s nature is isolating and you might think you are out of your mind for doing it, or the only one doing it, but you aren’t.
  • Binge eating is a natural response to extreme dieting (under-eating).  It is the body’s way to make sure you do not starve.
  • Binge eating is a habit that can be changed.
  • One way to reduce urges to binge is by eating enough throughout the day.
  • Your “enough” will be different from the next person and will vary according to how active you are, how quick your metabolism is, and on your basic genetic needs for food.
  • Experiment with finding your “enough”.
  • You won’t be perfect at this.  Some days you will eat too much, other days too little, other days it will seem just right.
  • Perfection is not the goal.
  • Rather, nourishing your body with foods that make you feel great and keep you satisfied is.
  • You can eat any foods you want to stop bingeing.
  • Many people say that eating foods found in nature, such as vegetables, fruits, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, eggs, and whole fats are good choices when reducing urges to binge.
  • But you do not need to eat what anyone else says, nor do you need to follow a specific diet.
  • Eat the foods that leave you feeling your best.
  • Experiment with this.
  • Pay attention to how food effects your body, your mind, and your mood.
  • Pay attention to how food minimizes or maximizes your urges to binge.
  • Use food as your ally, whenever you can, but know that no matter what you eat, you get to decide if you will binge or not.
  • When you return to eating enough, and eating foods that make you feel great, you still might have urges to binge.
  • This is only your brain sending signals that it has been conditioned to send.
  • These urges do not mean anything.  They do not define who you are, they don’t have any significance, and they do not need to be obeyed.
  • Notice when you have an urge to binge, accept it as a part of ending binge eating, remind yourself that they are not that big of a deal, and celebrate that you are not binge eating anymore.
  • You can include others on this journey if you want.
  • You can attend therapy or groups that help you change your approach to food, or have an accountability partner.
  • But these are all optional.
  • Enjoy the friendships you make in these settings, but remember you still have to be responsible for your life, and for your eating.
  • Events may have occurred in the past or may be occurring right now that you do not prefer, and this is unfortunate, but they are not reasons to sabotage yourself with food.
  • Fix the situations that you can, and try to let go of the ones that are outside of your influence.
  • This is really hard.
  • But you can do it.
  • If you do binge eat, don’t beat yourself up.
  • It’s just a part of stopping for many people.  It doesn’t mean you are hopeless, it doesn’t mean you are dumb.
  • Learn from your experiences.
  • The past is over.  Look ahead.
  • Be kind to yourself, grow in compassion and empathy, and get right back on target with choosing to eat enough, choosing to resist binge urges, and choosing to keep at it.
  • Over time, urges to binge fade and lose their frustrating and distracting presence.
  • Over time, your efforts to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that led to binge eating with positive and true thoughts will pay off.
  • It gets easier.  It gets simpler.
  • Stopping binge eating is not the end all in life, and will not be your greatest joy.
  • It won’t solve all of your problems, or remove the stress in life that we all have from time to time.
  • But it will make eating easier.
  • It will relieve anxiety, and stress around food, and improve your health, your mind, and your mood.
  • And it’s worth it.
  • You are worth it.

This concluded the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

I hope it has helped shed light on how binge eating starts, how it is maintained, and how it is stopped.

Implementing these tactics has helped me tremendously, and I share them because I think they can help you, too.

I used to think I was the craziest person for binge eating.  I would diet, and binge, and diet, and binge.

It was a time in my life that I cannot undo, so I have chosen to take everything I have learned from it and turn it into something positive to share.

If you ever feel like you are stuck in the cycle of binge eating, you aren’t.

You can stop today.  You can take care of your body, and you can be glad you didn’t give up.

Never give up.

 

 

Image from Comically Vintage.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 3

This is Part 3 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

If you haven’t already, read Part 1 and Part 2.

In Part 3, we will talk about eating enough food to lesson frantic urges to binge eat.

It is my opinion that binge eating is caused by dieting–extreme food restriction and that if you did not have the urge to binge eat, you never would.

Binge eating is an action and requires obeying signals from the brain to uncontrollably eat large amounts of food, usually in a short span of time, usually on the foods you have restricted (but not always), and usually alone.  It is often followed by feelings of regret, shame, and guilt, and a period of compensation (voluntary vomiting, over-exericisng, laxative use, or fasting) known as purging.

Binge eating’s nature is cyclical and it quickly becomes a habit.

Here is the cycle of binge eating:

Extreme dieting (food restriction/not eating enough), urges to binge, binge eating, compensation (purging), repeat.

Note that binge urges follow the act of not eating enough.  It is my opinion that by eating enough, binge urges will be dramatically lessoned.  If you continue to eat enough and lesson your urges to binge, you will binge less.  If you binge less, you will compensate less, and if you compensate less, you will be more likely to sustain eating enough.

So, what is enough?

This is difficult to determine on this blog post because everyone’s “enough” will look different, depending on their weight, height, activity level, genetic coding, and metabolism.  It is generally accepted that a six and a half foot and very active man needs to eat more than a five foot two and fairly active woman, but it is less accepted that the five foot two woman needs quite a bit more than she is eating now (provided she is a dieter).

Your most basic metabolic needs (your resting metabolism–energy needed to be in bed all day) is about ten times your body weight.  If you weigh 130 pounds, you need 1300 calories simply to stay alive.

Just to stay alive!  Forget about anything else.  Getting up to make coffee, catching the train, sitting at your desk to work, and definitely forget about any fitness routine.

Dieters are recommended to eat a very low number of calories each day, generally between 1200-1600.  I’ve seen these numbers published in magazines, on websites, and in books.  These numbers are dangerously low to sustain over time.  They are almost always not enough for anyone and will cause the brain to signal urges to binge because it believes (rightfully) that it is starving.

When I dieted (under-ate), I believed that I should be full and satisfied on about 1500 calories a day while maintaining an intense fitness routine.  I could manage to eat so little for a short amount of time (a week, maybe two), but then I would experience intense and distracting urges to eat everything in sight.  It felt strange, because I was health conscious and desired to eat nutritious foods, but when the urges to eat came, it was as if all my education and goals went out the window.  I would binge eat until I couldn’t eat anymore, regain my senses, and vow to get back on track with my low calorie diet.

And by now you probably know how that went.

I tried sustaining a low calorie diet for many years and found it frightening to imagine eating more to lesson my urges to binge.  I thought I would become a glutton, gain too much weight, or live a very sloppy life.

This is irrational because when you calculate all of the calories consumed during my binges for the week and added them to my low calorie days, my calories were always more than if I just ate enough food without dieting and bingeing.

Let’s say I tried to eat 1500 calories a day all week.  By day seven, I eat my normal 1500 calories but then binge on 3000 calories.  If I were to add my calories for the week, they would average to 1930 calories a day.

That may not sound so bad, but let’s say I binged twice in the same week.  Now my calories averaged at 2360 a day.

It was my experience that the more I dieted, restricted, and binged, the more I did it.  It was habit, and it escalated in intensity and frequency so that my binge days increased over each year and completely undid all of my very low calorie days.

If I were to simply eat more each day, let’s say 2000 calories (still debatably low), I would not only feel much fuller on any given day, but I would end up eating less than I did when dieting and bingeing.

This advice might sound far from everything you have read about losing and maintain weight, and it is, but we are slowly inching closer and closer to changing our beliefs about calories in and calories out and as we do, all of the old numbers we have been a slave to will lose their credibility.

Of course the only way to know for sure if eating more will lesson binge urges is to try it for yourself.  I’m not a fan of absolutistic thinking, so you won’t hear me saying that eating more is the only way to stop binge eating, but I will say it’s a very effective way to lesson binge urges, and the likelihood that you continue to binge eat.

You have probably heard that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

That was my approach with dieting, restricting, and binge eating.  I felt like a crazy person as I tried to fix the same problem by doing the same thing that was not working.

Eating more (enough for you) and not bingeing is possible and it will reduce stress that you may feel around food.  As you binge less (and not at all), your health will improve.  Your body will feel better and your mind will be free from all the focus and energy that bingeing requires.

Why not take a look at how much you are eating over the course of a week or two and observe if you are experiencing urges to binge.  If you are, try adding more nutritious foods to your meals. There is no need to count calories or be obsessive about it if you don’t want to.  Accept that you won’t do this perfectly.  Some days you will eat enough, some days less, some days more.  Start small, if you like, until you are comfortable with larger meals.  Choose foods that will nourish your body, eat in a way that is kind to yourself, and then note the intensity and frequency of your binge urges.

You have nothing to lose–except that which you already don’t want!

The next part of this series will explore resisting urges to binge after you are eating enough.

What do you think about eating more throughout the day to lesson binge urges?  Have you tried this approach?

Share your experiences by leaving a comment!

 

Image from Qomics.

Weekend Eating

It’s the weekend!

For anyone who is caught up in the habit of keeping a strict diet during the week, and then “blowing it” over the weekend only to start again on Monday, weekends tend to be highly anticipated and then highly regretted (at least in the food department).

This is common but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.

Here are a few thoughts that may be contributing to this approach followed by statements that contribute to more rational and positive mindsets:

THOUGHT: “I’ve been good all week!  I’m having anything I want and as much as I want today!”

STATEMENT: So, I think I’ve been good this week?  Why is that?  Is it because I ate specific foods and limited my portions?  Do I really believe that makes me “good”?  Would not eating how I ate this week make me “bad”?  While it’s true that there are foods that are better or worse for my body, they never contribute to me being a good or bad person, only to the quality of my health.  Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t seem rational to make poor choices this weekend because I made good choices the rest of the week.  I think I will notice how hungry I am and see what foods are available and base my decisions on those things, instead.

THOUGHT: “It’s been a tough week, I deserve to let loose and eat without restraint!”

STATEMENT: Yes, it has been a tough week.  Things happened that I didn’t prefer and I hope life is not so difficult moving forward, but I am not a wild animal and do not need to “eat without restraint” to calm down.  If I choose to eat recklessly or too much, it might be a distraction for a little while, but it is not an act that I deserve for surviving a difficult week because I don’t use food as a reward or punishment.  Eating wildly would simply be a choice to eat like an animal.  I would rather not behave like an animal around food.

THOUGHT: “It’s so hard to eat healthy during the weekends!  There is so much delicious food around and other people eat it, so why cannot I?”

STATEMENT: It is not hard to eat healthy over the weekends.  It’s hard to dig trenches or to run marathons but choosing to eat in a way that nourishes and respects my body is not hard.  In fact, it gets easier and easier the more I do it.  Yes, there seems to be more access to palatable foods during the weekend, but it is always my choice to eat them or not and I always have that choice.  Since I choose foods that support my health during the week, I am capable of choosing them during the weekend.  What anyone else eats is none of my concern.

This weekend, remember that you are not defined by the foods you eat.  They do not make you a better or worse human being.  Sure, foods impact your energy, mood, attractiveness and body size, but they do not remove your responsibility to think (rationally) for yourself.

You always have the choice to eat enough and to eat nourishing foods.  Likewise, you always have the choice to eat foods that do not positively contribute to your health without them miraculously making you a worse person in need of punishment come Monday.

So, be kind to yourself!

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy eating and enjoy your life!

How do you think about the weekends and food?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

 

Image from Remarkably Retro.

Eating for Right Now

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of asking, “how can I be kind to myself right now?” when you are choosing something to eat.

This question is different than, “What should I eat?” or “What am I supposed to eat?”.  There are enough diets in the world to answer these questions.  All you need to do is look any of them up and you can find rules and menus to last a lifetime, you might never need to think for yourself again!

Asking yourself how you can be kind when choosing what you will eat right now is different because it requires you to be in tune with your body’s needs in this very moment.  Not yesterday or tomorrow or last week or next week, but now.

Now might reveal that your body would do well with protein.  Now might inspire you to choose vegetables as part of or even your whole meal or maybe none at all.  It might lead you to more carbohydrates or more fat or maybe less of everything, because right now, you are not that hungry.

Now will unlikely lead to to eat in a manner that is poor for your health.  It’s unlikely that it will tell you to binge or starve or choose foods that make you feel sick.  Now has your best interest in mind and can be used as a compassionate tool to guide your eating.

Staying present and honest in this very moment will help you make the best choices for your body right now.  Your choices might look different than a diet menu or what the next person is choosing, but that is OK because those things never need to be of your concern, anyway.  Let others also choose their “right now” and everyone wins.

If you find that you have a difficult time deciding on how or what to eat, try offering yourself a bit of kindness and ask what would be best for you right now.

 

Image from Super College Chef.