Making the decision to stop dieting and stop pursuing weight loss is tough. It’s tough for many reasons including, but not limited too:
- We are constantly being told this is what we should be doing to look better and feel better
- It’s (almost) impossible to get through the day without seeing an ad, post, article, blog that mentions some dietary fix or cleanse or some kind of body transformation
- Many of your friends and work colleagues are talking about it
- If you have a health issue, the advice is often lose weight, even though there’s no evidence losing weight improves any health condition long term
- People in fatter bodies are hardly ever represented as happy, healthy, successful or even normal, or even just represented!
- Our culture’s extreme weight stigma and fat shaming
- We are all conditioned to believe and feel that being thinner is better
I was compelled to write this after one of my clients mentioned yesterday how his partner just doesn’t get the non-diet process and how their comments around food make things that much tougher.
We talked about how it’s completely understandable that his partner doesn’t understand the process. After all, the common wisdom in our culture is change your diet and you’ll lose weight and if you’re paying a dietitian, then that’s what should be happening. Or that if you’re seeing a dietitian, or doing something to improve your health, you’ll eat a certain way. Therefore, the idea that you could choose to eat perceived “unhealthy” food and still be looking after your health, or doing the “right thing”, would seem completely absurd.
So while my client has actually seen some significant progress in terms of his relationship with food, the ability to practise self compassion, finding new pleasure with cooking and discovering he’s not actually “addicted” to fast food; the partner voiced concern when my client bought some chips at the supermarket. As the chips were being scanned, the partner asked “so how are things going with the dietitian?”
Not for a second am I suggesting the partner was meaning harm by this, but the truth is that such a comment is harmful. My client felt a sense of shame and disappointment that his partner seemed more interested in how things were going with the dietitian, or that they weren’t producing the “results”, than how things going with him.
This reminded me of a something I heard on a podcast recently and that’s how small our conversations become when the focus is on food choices and numbers, be that calories or the scales. How much richer would our conversations be if we talked about how we can change our brains to change our thinking and how we relate to things, the power of self compassion and what it truly means to self-care? Woven into this conversation could be how taking pleasure from food enhances our quality of life.
An important step to navigating comments from others is to pause and and remember they simply don’t understand (yet) what they are saying. They are simply saying, or doing, all the things that our culture has conditioned them to say and do. I used to be that person too. I used to judge others for their food choices and make what I thought were helpful comments around food choices and weight. Being compassionate toward the person who is not understanding, or any judgement, can help you to not get as caught up in the dialogue.
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