70% of women are said to struggle with disordered eating.
A lot of people wonder, what exactly is disordered eating? Really, it’s behaviors around food and body that cause emotional, physical and spiritual distress.
The thing that differentiates disordered eating from clinical eating disorders is the level of severity and frequency of behaviors and a diagnosis from a health care professional.
So, that’s 7 out of every 10 women actually engaging in abnormal eating behaviors every day. Behaviors that have a negative impact on their emotional and social well being.
Disordered eating shows up in behaviors like:
- Skipping meals regularly
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Compensating for what’s been eaten by exercising
- Fasting or chronic restrained eating
- Self-worth based on body shape and weight
These behaviors sound a lot like dieting for weight loss, don’t they?
When people promote weight loss because #selflove, or #loveyourself enough to change, I can’t help but cringe at the harm they’re actually doing.
Because if 70% of women are already engaging in eating patterns and behaviors that are negatively impacting their emotional well being, masquerading weight loss as self-love is actually manipulating them into believing that it’ll work this time around.
That if they self-love themselves hard enough by skipping meals on the regular, living by a number that My Fitness Pal prescribes, only getting off the treadmill when they hit x number of calories, eating within a 5 hour window that they’ll come into their own and finally feel worthy.
Statistically we know (I share it all the time!) that most of the people who diet will be unsuccessful in losing weight.
Not because there’s something wrong with them.
There’s something wrong with the diet.
That It’s actually in the extreme eating and exercising behaviors that we end up feeling like a failure, beating ourselves up and engaging in self-talk and other behaviors that are destructive.
To me, that’s literally the opposite of self-love.
I want you to take a minute and list off a few words that come to mind when you think of the word love.
Last week I did just that and turned to Instagram and asked folks what words they would equate to love. I got dozens of responses with themes of the same words.
Now, I’m not going to tell you what to think or prescribe what self-love should look like for you.
That would be the same thing as telling you to lose weight because of self-love!
So, instead, define it for yourself. Consider what we know to be hard and true researched facts- about the physical and emotional strain that dieting cycles cause.
And consider labeling dieting something else- instead of self-care or self-love, can you just call it what it is? Trying to lose weight because you want to lose weight? There’s no shame in it! It’s your body and you’re allowed to do what feels right for you.
But, knowing what you know, is it really self love?
So, tell me in the comments, what words do you associate with love?
And, how can those words guide the way you approach your relationship to food and your body?
I’m excited to hear your thoughts!
If you don’t feel comfortable commenting here, shoot me an email with your words and how they spill over into your relationship with food and your body. I’d love to hear from you!
And if you're having a tough time defining self-love and you’d like some guidance on some easy ways to practice it everyday, grab my Guide to Self Love and get started.
I'm a body image and eating disorder therapist in Horsham, PA.
I help people recover from eating disorders and make peace with their mind, body and food.
I specialize in treating binge eating and helping women learn how to stop dieting and really start living.
Questions? Get in touch here!