Dieting teaches us to love our bodies, right? I mean this is what we are sold in our society!
Struggling with body image? Diet
Struggling with health? Diet
Struggling with relationships? Diet
Struggling with your career? Diet
Struggling with mental health? Diet
Dieting has become a one stop shop for all of your needs. But what happens when dieting teaches you to hate your body instead of doing what it was sold to you for?
What is Body Bashing?
Body bashing is continually making negative remarks about your body. This could be within your thoughts or out loud to yourself. The body shaming definition also includes making negative remarks about another person’s body.
Body bashing almost always leads to body hatred.
Body bashing for me would often begin in front of a mirror or when I would hop on the scale. Body bashing would then be fueled by getting dressed or simply by starting the next fad diet.
I would imagine how I looked sitting in my office chair and…body bash
I would take a selfie at lunch and…body bash
I would see an old photo “memory” on Facebook and…body bash
Because of dieting and diet culture I had a completely unrealistic vision of how I was supposed to look. This also led to body comparison.
“Health” to me had a certain look.
“Worthiness” to me had a certain look.
“Success” to me had a certain look.
And as you can guess, they all looked like really tiny bodies.
This “ideal” that the world sold me tore me away from loving myself in the moment. How my day went, and my overall worthiness was completely wrapped up in what the weight on the scale was or how my clothes fit that day.
I didn’t even have the capacity to focus on things that truly mattered to me or self-love.
How the Scale Feeds Body Hatred
In my experience, dieting taught me to hate my body. It taught me to body shame.
First thing in the morning I would head off to the bathroom, give myself a one over in the mirror and start bashing my body.
“Ugh your double chin.”
“Omg those fries from yesterday are really sticking.”
“Ewww I swear my thighs are getting bigger every day.”
I would then hop on the weight scale.
If I didn’t see the number I wanted to, day ruined. I would spend all day bashing my body, bashing my food choices and reminding myself of the fitness goals I would, “never hit at this rate.”
Want Free Journal Prompts?
I’ll send you free journal prompts to help
heal your relationship with food!
The sad thing is this didn’t just end with letting myself know that I would never hit my health goals because of the number on the scale (thought that in itself was sad enough).
I truly believed that my poor relationships were my fault because I was fat. I believed that I would never truly be successful in my nutrition business if I was fat. I believed that I was not worthy of the life I dreamt of all because of the size of my body.
(I blame those reality weight loss TV shows for that mentality and my body image issues. Remember how everything in their life changed post weight loss?! I bought into that ideal, fully!)
What happened if I saw the number I wanted to on that scale in the morning? Then I would have a good day. I would be happy. There would be an extra skip in my step. I would give myself permission to eat and maybe even permission to not push myself to nausea while working out. I would dream big and loud, because I could have everything I dreamt of in life if I was skinny.
A good number on the scale not only = A good day. It equalled a good life.
How Clothing can Fuel Body Hatred
Getting dressed in the morning was another huge body image trigger for me that often ended up fueling my body hatred.
If my clothes went on easily and my reflection in the mirror pleased me = good day.
If they didn’t though… if they were snugger than usual or if my fat would bulge over or I could see my fat body through the clothes = bad day.
I never considered simply getting rid of the clothes that didn’t fit me to bring about a healthy body image. Oh no, those were “goal clothes.” You know the ones?
I had this idea that if my closet mostly didn’t fit me, that somehow that would fuel me to make the “right” food choices and therefore I would hit my goal weight & size.
As you can imagine, opening my closet every single day to clothes that did not fit my body, fueled my body shame aggressively.
My closet, my clothes would help dictate if I was going to have a good day or a bad day. A good life or a bad life.
Dieting and Body Bashing
Dieting is so often sold to us with shiny before & after photos. We are sold how much our lives will expand if we commit to the diet. Dieting in a way is sold as the pixie dust that will turn our entire lives around.
What rarely is discussed, is the endless way dieting will limit your life.
A huge area that affected my life when it came to yo yo dieting, was my social life.
Prior to social gatherings I would enquire about what was being served. It took me a while to learn how to formulate the perfect text…
“Hello ____ I was wondering if I could ask what was being served for dinner tonight? I simply like to plan out my day of eating accordingly. Thank you!”
Damn, I feel my face getting flushed just typing that out!!
Depending on the response I would do one of three things. Perfectly game plan on what I could or couldn’t eat at the social gathering. Or I would eat prior. Or starve myself all night and eat later.
It got to the point where I would dread being invited to dinner. It would be easier to simply stay home, alone, and cook my own bland chicken.
What would happen if I ate something on the no no list that I “shouldn’t” have at the social gathering? Well, I would replay it in my mind over and over. As if it was on a loop and I would only make the “right” decision next time if I completely fixated over it for now.
Food to me was a direct reflection to how my body would look. And I hated my body, so therefore every crumb of food needed to be accounted for. The more I would “mess up” with what I ate or not see the “results” I wanted to, the more I hated my body and had an unhealthy relationship with food.
Food is NOT Medicine
If you know anything about my education background, I’m actually a registered holistic practitioner. Take one guess what are some staple terms you hear inside of holistic nutrition or holistic medicine?
“Food is medicine”
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Now before you head over to my Contact page and send me an email stating that I can’t be a holistic practitioner if I don’t believe those quotes, hear me out!
Do I believe a healthy diet can greatly aid people in a better quality of life? YES! Do I believe that diet can be used as treatment or a therapeutic option for a disease or illness? YES!
However, food is NOT medicine. And quotes that indicate it is or that if you found the perfect diet you would no longer need medicine, well those quotes cause extreme guilt and shame in people.
Those quotes even convince people to no longer take their medicine and instead chronically diet in hopes of finding a diet that equates to the healing their medicine provided for them. That doesn’t promote holistic wellness.
My Story of Using Food as Medicine
I want to share some life experience here. I was one of those that was committed to making food my medicine.
When I was experiencing health issues, I would try diet A that was recommended to me by this Naturopath and when that diet didn’t fix my medical issues, I would try diet B recommended by that Naturopath. It was a constant yo yo diet cycle.
What I didn’t do was pursue synthetic medication. No no, I was a holistic nut. Taking synthetic medication means you aren’t properly utilizing your diet to heal you.
Using synthetic medication in my mind meant that I would’ve failed as a holistic practitioner.
Eventually, I had tried 13 diets to fix my medical issues. And none of them worked.
Sure, some of them would make me feel better in the short term or make my lab results look better on one test. But they were not sustainable diets and they didn’t fix things so that I achieved a healthy relationship with food. The positive effects never lasted.
With each diet my relationship with food worsened and my quality of life went downhill.
Whelp to wrap this lived experience story up. Eventually my doctors found through DNA testing that I likely had reduced glutamate to GABA conversion due to numerous variants in my FAD1 genes.
1 synthetic pill of Gabapentin per day and all of my issues solved themselves.
My almost decade long battle with my health was solved by taking ONE PILL per day.
This genetic weakness would’ve never been able to solve itself through diet. No matter how many diets I tried. This gave me a whole new perspective on holistic wellness.
I needed medicine, real medicine.
And guess what? Now I when I focus on gentle nutrition, I can actually trust my body! I can feel her satisfaction, her hunger and her fullness.
Previously my focus on dieting, food rules & restriction caused severe disordered eating and actually helped contribute to how unhealthy I was.
Now my focus on intuitive eating, gentle nutrition & incorporating synthetic medication has helped me become my healthiest self! My food relationship took a full 180.
Now do you see why I have a bone to pick with the quote, “food is medicine?”
Dieting Taught me to Hate my Body
I hated my body more and more and more after each diet, each new food restriction and each time I was told that utilizing food as medicine was not working for me the way it did for others.
Why couldn’t my body listen to these food rules? Why did I lack self-discipline when it comes to food?
Why didn’t my body react the way most do when it comes to dieting? How does it heal everyone else but not me?
Why can’t I keep the weight off like other people can? Why is weight loss so incredibly difficult if not impossible for me?
What is wrong with my body?
I HATE MY BODY
Dieting taught me to hate my body. And I know that it does the same for many others every single day.
We tend to look at everyone else and assume that they are having a radically different experience with fad diets compared to us.
We see a post on Instagram about how much the Keto diet has changed so and so’s life. What we don’t see is the obsessive food thoughts that are destroying their mental health.
We see a magazine covered promoting the newest diet Noom and how easy weight loss is for their clients. What we don’t see is the over 90% of people who end up gaining all the weight back.
We see our co-worker commit to Paleo and apparently, “all her health issues almost instantly went away.” What we don’t see is how long that will actually last for or if the diet will even be maintainable for her.
When we see people who we are convinced dieting helped them love their bodies, it’s important to remember that we can’t see the behind the scenes. We can’t see 5 years into the future to see what their life looks like then. We can’t see how badly their mental health has to suffer in order for their physical health to improve.
In my experience, long term, dieting teaches us to hate our bodies; it doesn’t promote holistic healing.
Work with a Professional
Maybe you are in the same boat that I was and have been convinced that dieting will be the key that will unlock your mental or physical health once and for all. In this pursuit you’ve tried literally everything you or your health professionals can think of.
And it still hasn’t worked.
Maybe you are in the same boat that I am currently and have found that dieting sells itself with glitter & sparkles but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, all it’s brought is frustration, hatred and obsession into your life. There is so much restrictive eating.
Maybe you also feel like dieting has only taught you to hate your body.
I get it, and as you read above, I’ve been there. After healing my relationship with food, I decided to become Certified in Intuitive Eating so that I could truly help my clients heal their relationship with food and escape disordered eating patterns.
I now make it my mission to create affordable resources, courses & products to help you escape diet culture and learn to trust your body once again!
If you are curious about any of these resources, click here!
Until next time, happy healing!
Certified in Intuitive Eating
Licensed Health & Nutrition Counsellor