Monday, December 10, 2012

Fear of the Feast

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I used to dread the holidays because of all the food I would have to face.  I feared the feast.  I feared the abundance of food, the awkward dinner conversations, the comments from family and friends, and what I would say in return.

I used to love to sit at the kids table.  They didn’t like their food touching either, they didn’t have to finish the food on their plate, and no one ever talked about “this being so high in calories” or “that is not going to help me lose weight”.

At some point, unfortunately, all kids will graduate to the adult table.  And at some point, unfortunately, they will begin to be exposed to the crazy ways of the adult world.

We would be less crazy if we changed just one thing…if we got rid of the “diet”.

After I graduated from the kids table, I started to have an unhealthy relationship with food.  I believed that food was the enemy.  I believed that food was evil.  I believed, if I ate “bad” food, I had weak willpower and was, therefore, a failure at life.  I believed that I had to “diet”.

The holidays are a particularly difficult when you think this way because, generally, the gatherings are centered around food.

For days, or even weeks, in advance I would diet and restrict my eating because I knew I would have to eat “bad” food.  Each year, it got more and more difficult to hide my food insecurities.  And each year, my anxiety grew stronger and I began to feel debilitated.  After the holidays, it was even worse.  I would act like a crazy person to make up for all my eating sins.  It would be weeks, or months, until I felt a little better about myself.

Sometimes, if I knew I had to face a feast, I would make excuses to skip it.  Even if I already felt fat because of the way I was eating, I would skip out on parties and such.  What I ate and how I felt about my appearance ruled where and when I could have fun and be social.  Food could make or break my day…week…life…

This is what happens when dieting is a priority.  Can you relate, even a little?

I hate to break it to you, but, guess what?  Dieting IS disordered eating.

You might still think that it is okay for you to diet.  You might still think that it is okay for you to try to lose weight.

Here’s the deal.  We need to eat EVERY DAY to nourish our body, mind, and soul.  EVERY DAY.  Actually, THREE times a day or more.  Three. Times. Every. Day.

So, three times a day we are faced with the decision to choose to diet or not.  In reality, we are choosing between either (1) loving and respecting our bodies, or (2) hating and trying to change our bodies.  If you choose to diet, then you are saying that you hate yourself for the way you are right now.  If you choose to diet then three times, or more, every day you remind yourself that you hate the way you look and you want to change.  Imagine if a bully came up to your daughter three times a day and called her fat, lazy, stupid, weak, and ugly?  Oh Holy Cow, would you not flip out!?!?  Then why is it okay to do that to yourself?

An amazing, life-changing, revelation – You can have a nourishing, healthy life WITHOUT EVER being on a diet.

Believe it.  It is totally possible to love yourself, take care of yourself, and nourish yourself without conforming to society’s diet standards.

There are several things you can do to help you remember this truth during the holidays.  Below are a few bits of information you can use to help.  I found these ideas from an awesome writer and nutritionist, Michelle.  You can read her full blog post here.

Tinsel Tips:
You are allowed to eat.  Give yourself permission to eat.  You do not have to earn the right to eat food.

It is your job to love and respect your body.  No one else can make this decision for you.

Eat foods that are enjoyable, but that also make you feel good.  Don't eat dairy if you are lactose intolerant!

Set boundaries.  Stick up for yourself.  And remember you don't have to prove anything to anybody.

Don’t eat stuff you don’t like.  If you don't like the taste of broccoli or carrots, don't eat them just because you think they are healthy and will help you lose weight.  Find fruits and veggies that you like.  Figure out what your favorite foods are.

Don’t participate in fat talk.  Change the subject.  Explain why fat talk is dangerous.  Or just walk away.

Ignore the food police.  And try not to wear the badge yourself.

If all else fails, go sit at the kids table! 

This Christmas, what will you do to nourish yourself?

Until then, take care, YOU!

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