Why do we feel ashamed when eating a biscuit or a slice of cake? And how can one person pour down liters of softdrinks without gaining weight, but can the other feel the kilos pile up just by looking at a chocolate cake? In this article we are looking at food, shame and how to feel good about what you eat.
Editor: Dorien Luyckx
Above a classic picture of Crystal Renn eating spaghetti by Terry Richardson for Vogue Paris
As has been mentioned previously crash diets and impossible restraints on your meals do not work in the long run. Often they help to loose weight in a short time period, but at the expense of energy, health and self-esteem.
Of course we all want to loose weight like it were nothing, but not every body works in the same way. Therefor it is important to learn to listen to your body and find a healthy eat- and lifestyle. Many dieticians will confirm the fact that in order to loose weight in a healthy manner you will have to re-arrange your eating habits and learn to distinguish food and its nutritional values. It is also important to avoid food shaming. This is the tendency to divide food in two groups: healthy and unhealthy. Eating unhealthy food is often associated with guilt and shame, the healthier food is connected to guilt-free, shame-free and skinny (In the video below the Youtube Channel Stuff mom never told you shows how this guilt can increase obesity rather than avoid it).
Especially the association of EATING HEALTHY = BEING SKINNY doesn’t show in reality. As previously mentioned: every body is different and works differently: therefor people who have a fast metabolism could be skinny although they could be following a diet of cola and fries.
That the way we, as a society, are approaching obesity is probably not preventing but encouraging it, as a study of the University of College London showed. People nowadays seem to have to be ashamed of their weight and subsequently we give a whole group of people a low self-esteem that aren’t motivated to maintain their health (I’ve been there too!). The researchers found out that, regardless of the weight category a person was in, anyone who faced weight discrimination tended to put on about 1 kg over the course of the study, while people who faced no discrimination either stayed the same weight or, in some cases, lost an average of 0.7 kilograms.Because the study was only a population survey among 2,944 UK adults, it isn’t sufficient to establish a connection between weight-related discrimination and weight gain.
Lead author of the study stated that: ‘Our results show that weight discrimination does not encourage weight loss, and suggest that it may even exacerbate weight gain. Previous studies have found that people who experience discrimination report comfort eating. Stress responses to discrimination can increase appetite, particularly for unhealthy, energy-dense food. Weight discrimination has also been shown to make people feel less confident about taking part in physical activity, so they tend to avoid it.’
The central word of a healthy eating style is balance. If you can balance out the nutritious foods with a occasionally more sugary treat, you won’t feel punished when you take the salad, you won’t be ashamed if you take a piece of cake, nor will sugary treats loose their off-limits vibe (which as we all know, just makes us to want it even more!).
Moreover if you want to treat yourself, make a whole experience of it. And make it memorable! Don’t go sit alone in front of the television, but ask some friends around to have some pie or go to that artisanal bakery shop everybody is talking about. It is also easy to find food in the supermarkets that are full of sugar and look great, but often do not give the satisfaction you expected from it. So, make it yourself or turn to more qualitative treats that can make you sound like in the commercials with a lot of mm’s and yum’s and aah’s!
If you aren’t feeling well in your own skin and you think loosing some weight might give you that push in the right direction of self-confidence, you can always turn to professional health-advisors or dieticians, that can help you to loose weight in a healthy manner.
Have you experienced weight discrimination or fat shaming? How did you react? Please comment below!