When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? Is your body image positive or negative?
If your answer is negative, you are not alone.
I have informally questioned my students if they are happy with their bodies, and they resoundingly say “NO. I’m too fat. I don’t like my eyelids, chin, or my cheeks. My thighs/butt/arms are too big.” (and the list goes on and on). This is true in Korea as well, where recently there was a news article about how it was hard to tell the women in a beauty pageant apart because they had all had the same plastic surgery done. I was surprised that while not as often as women, men also have these concerns. One man said, for example, “I’m just too skinny. I wish I had a stronger body.” (See the additional facts about women, below.)
Poor body image and low self-esteem can affect other areas of our lives including problems with finances, friendships, career, and romantic relationships due to a big energy drain that comes from depression, anxiety, unhappiness, worthlessness, obsession with calorie counting/weight loss, and maybe even an eating disorder. The actual ingredients and processed food items that are in the Standard American diet also overwork and stress our organs, and put our moods on a roller coaster, draining our energy.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
Thinking that weight loss is the answer to problems, many women fall into the diet trap and start taking supplements or partake in other unhealthy dieting methods, like skipping meals, starving themselves, smoking, or avoiding whole categories of food, like carbs. Unfortunately, this can create even more problems from improper nutrition and a vicious cycle of emotional pitfalls. These extreme methods are not sustainable over time, and yo-yo dieters end up actually gaining more weight in the long term.
A HEALTHIER APPROACH
Would you be excited to know that you don’t have to skip meals, starve yourself, smoke, or avoid carbs to have your ideal weight? To know that you can stop counting calories? How do you do this?
Eating a whole foods plant-based diet makes it easier to gain and maintain a healthy weight because
- the food is high in fiber, creating longer lasting fullness, so you don’t feel as hungry all the time
- is also lower in calories
- meets your nutritional needs before you caloric needs, which means that you can eat more than you normally would with Standard American Diet foods and still keep a healthy body weight
~~Healthier eating even supports the production of happiness chemicals in the brain!~~
In my next cooking class, I will be teaching:
- Healthy and delicious plant-based recipes that support whole body wellness
- Food & mood connections
- Mindful eating with hunger cues, both for hunger and fullness
- How body image is just a cover up for what’s really going on emotionally
- Tips for becoming size positive
BODY IMAGE FACTS AND FIGURES
- 42% of first, second and third grade girls want to lose weight. Collins, M. “Body figure perception and preferences among preadolescent children.” International Journal of Eating Disorders 10 (1991), pp 199-208.
- 45% of boys and girls in grades three through six want to be thinner; 37% have already dieted; 7% score in the eating disorder range on a test of children’s eating habits.Maloney, MJ, McGuire, J. Daniels, Sr., and Specker, B. “Dieting behavior and eating attitudes in children,” Pediatrics 84 (1989) pp 482-487.
- 46% of nine- to eleven-year-olds say they are sometimes or very often on diets. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., and Terry, R. D., “Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth grade children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Assoc. 92 (7)(1992), pp 818-822.
- 70% of normal weight girls in high school feel fat and are on a diet. Ferron, C. “Body Image in adolescence in cross-cultural research” Adolescence 32 (1997), pp. 735-745.
- During puberty, most girls’ bodies need to gain, on average, 10 inches and 40-50 pounds, including more body fat. Friedman, Sandra Susan. When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence. Firefly Books, 2000.
- Females need 17% body fat in order to menstruate for the first time and 22% to have regular cycles. Cooke, Kaz. Real Gorgeous: The Truth About Body and Beauty. Norton, 1996.
- Over half of the females age 18-25 studied would prefer to be run over by a truck than to be fat, and two-thirds would choose to be mean or stupid rather than fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
- A survey of college students found that they would prefer to marry an embezzler, drug user, shoplifter, or blind person than someone who is fat. Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.
- Up to 35% of normal dieters will progress to pathological dieting and, of those, 20 to 25% will progress to partial or full-blown eating disorders. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., and Estes, L.S., “The spectrum of eating disturbances,” Intl Journal of Eating Disorders 18 (3) (1995) pp. 209-219.
- The death rate for eating disorders is 5 to 20%. American Psychiatric Association, “Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(2) (1993) pp. 212-228.
- Americans spend $50 billion annually on diet products. Garner, David W., PhD, and Wooley, Susan C., PhD. “Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity,” Clinical Psychological Review 11 (1991), pp. 729-780. $50 billion is more than the Gross National Product of more than half of all the nations in the world, including Ireland.
From the Council on Size & Weight Discrimination, website, www.cswd.org