Isabel Foxen Duke works extensively in the field of body acceptance and writes regularly about diet culture. In an email I received today, she included these words. They are powerful and deserve to be shared.
I can think of fewer drugs (and I’ve tried some) quite as intoxicating as the pursuit of weight loss.
Planning a new diet used to literally soothe me of my greatest feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.
Whenever I believed I was ‘on my way’ to weight loss,
or perceived myself to be ‘winning’ at its pursuit,
I felt safe—
like I could finally get some ground under my feet,
like everything was going to be okay;
I felt powerful—
like I was gonna be someone,
like life was gonna do my bidding.
For all the hullabaloo about emotional eating (my thoughts on this here), emotional eating doesn’t even compare to how mind-altering, and ultimately habit-forming, the pursuit of thinness really is.
And if you don’t believe me—I dare you to give it up.
Stop trying to make yourself thinner…stop trying to make your body look a certain way…and then tell me how dependent you really are on this drug called “weight control.”
The highs, and the come-downs, are intense;
lest we forget about the come-downs…
the painful rebounds,
the excruciating feelings of failure,
the anxiety of needing to ‘keep it up,’
of slipping, of hanging on by our fingernails,
and the increasing and progressive hopelessness
we feel with every spin round the cycle.
Like most addicts…we too often forget about the come-downs when in the grips of a trigger.
Those are powerful words. It’s easy to think of being addicted to food. It happens. Even if it’s a behavioral addiction and not to a mind-altering substance, there’s something calming about sitting and eating at the end of a stressful day.
But have you ever considered that thinness could be an addiction? That the idea of having a smaller, more acceptable body could be an unhealthy thing?
Ask yourself: what would you do if you weren’t focused on losing weight and being thin?
Why aren’t you doing that now?
What would your thought processes be if you weren’t thinking about what to eat and when to eat and what other people think about when they see you?
If you can’t imagine a life without without thinking about food and weight, I completely understand. When I was asked that question a couple of years ago, I couldn’t answer it.
I want to encourage you to think about those things now. Today. Think about how amazing you are. Think about how beautiful the flowers are today. Think about how much you love spending time with your friends and, yes, about how good that pizza tastes when you eat it. Enjoy it.
It’s OK to enjoy your food.