Image Credit: Joanna Kosinska
I was recently featured on the BodyMatters Blog, Five Tips from Six Experts: Surviving Christmas & New Years Without Dieting
As a psychotherapist and counsellor on the Northern Beaches of Sydney who specialises in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being with a particular interest in eating disorders, disordered eating and other food, weight and body image concerns, I have come to realise that that dieting is often an attempt to fix something that has never been broken. Here are my 6 tips shared in the BodyMatters Christmas and New Year’s blog.
1.It’s important to remember that your precious body is the home for your soul; the part of you that is whole and unbroken. Instead of dieting, whatever your soul calls for, nourish that!
2.The focus must be on health and not size. When I work with women to help them stop their chronic dieting, I start by making sure they are including all food groups and that they are getting a good macronutrient balance. I also ask them to include foods into their day that they find pleasurable – otherwise they end up bingeing on those foods and they end up feeling shame and like a failure. Changing our thinking around food and weight can be challenging especially when there are so many food rules out there: for example, ‘carbs and fats are bad’. There is no such thing as good or bad (this in psychology is known as black and white thinking), food is just food and besides, it’s not just about what we eat but why, when and how we eat.
3.It’s important to remember that focusing on body size, weight and dieting is what Dr Anita Johnston calls a ‘red herring’ – it’s misleading and a distraction from what is really going on. So instead of going on yet another diet, perhaps ask yourself, ‘what’s really going on here?’ 9 times out of 10, the underlying struggle is not with weight, but with self-worth and not feeling good enough. If this is the case, redirect your New Years’ weight loss goals towards your inner world; developing your sense of self and raising your self-worth.
4.It’s virtually impossible to go online without being bombarded with diets for the New Year but it’s important to remember that the majority of people who diet or restrict certain food groups, end up bingeing. This season, don’t be seduced by the false promises of yet another diet. Rather than dieting and restricting, focus on nourishing your whole self; body, feelings, mind and soul.
5.If that harsh and critical voice inside your head is tyrannizing you with thoughts such as, ‘you are fat’, ‘you need to lose weight’, ‘you are disgusting’, ‘you can’t go to the party in that dress because you are too fat’ etc., imagine if you were speaking to a younger part of yourself or another child in that way? Seriously, would you say to a child, ‘you can’t go to the party because you are too fat’? Of course you wouldn’t. Each time you speak to yourself in this way, you will feel even more down about yourself (and may end up at the fridge soothing how bad you then feel!). It’s time to start speaking in a loving and kind way to yourself, speak to yourself as you would to someone you love. And… If you are not taking care of your body as well as you would like to and you do need to make some positive changes, make them in a caring, compassionate and kind way. I recommend going to Self-Compassion.Org by Dr. Kristen Neff.
6.Being around others obsessed with dieting can be triggering. It’s challenging but consider setting boundaries with friends and family. This might look like, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking – we are smart, sassy, gorgeous, creative women and I notice the conversation always comes back to talking about weight, dieting, clean eating – next year, I want to focus on truly nourishing my whole self so I don’t want to talk about and participate in this toxic industry anymore’. Start a conversation with other women about how poisonous this practice is to our women and young girls. There is a great campaign called, Fat Talk Free by Delta Delta Delta.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating or other food, weight or body image concern, please find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can work through these concerns at depth.