Many people with food and body image issues hold on to the belief that the only thing keeping them from being fat or fatter is having to whip themselves in shape periodically, or getting mad at themselves when they “make a mistake.” The negative self-talk and body hatred that goes along with the diet mentality does not address in any way the underlying reason for your binge eating, binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, food addiction or emotional eating.
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So, as I said, many of us suffer with body dissatisfaction and even body hatred. And there are a lot of people I work with in the anchor program who can’t find one good thing to say about their body. And not only are they not finding one good thing to say when they’re standing in front of the mirror, but when even when they’re away from the mirror, they find themselves inundated with thoughts, negative thoughts about their body, you know, um, when they’re going to a social event, they may have the thought of people are going to judge me or I’m too fat to sit in the chairs, or I can’t eat in public because I’m going to be judged. So if that’s your story, you’re not alone. Body hatred is present across the lifespan with somewhere in the neighborhood, 80 to 90% of American women between the ages of 25 and 74, who say that they’re dissatisfied with their body, that they would like to have a different body silhouette. And even 72% of women over 75 are still dissatisfied with their bodies. And of those about 35 that the women who are 35 to 55, which I consider like the peak of your life have had the highest body dissatisfaction. So why am I concerned about this? Well, it’s really not healthy to hate your body no matter what your age is. Body image issues are a predictor. So body image dissatisfaction predicts the development and maintenance of eating disorders.
Body hatred is also associated with a number of psychological issues, including depression and anxiety reduced quality of life and others. And sadly body dissatisfaction is omnipresent in women of all ages in the United States. That means it’s everywhere. What happened to my American sisters? How did we get here? Well, I’ve talked about that in previous podcasts, but you know, the thin ideal was created as a way for a woman to feel kind of moralistic morally superior. And we see that now with the weight stigma against people living in large bodies, that living in a large body, there’s a stereotype that you’re lazy. You’re not as intelligent. You’re not as motivated, whereas a thin woman. That the is viewed as someone who’s a go getter. Who’s active and that’s not always the case, by the way, I think about it. I’m sure you know, people at work or in your own life who, who are very thin just naturally and they don’t do anything to and, you know, to be healthy and they may not even be as healthy as someone living in the larger body as I talked about in the last podcast. So many people with throat and body images issues hold onto the belief that the only thing keeping them from being fat or fatter. Is that they have to whip themselves in shape periodically or getting mad at themselves when they “make a mistake”.
So it’s, you know, one of my patients who is a graduate of the five-year program, she took the five year route with the anchor program. She used to say, she figured out that you can’t hate yourself, then. That’s true. You cannot hate yourself then. So the negative self talk and body hatred that goes along with the diet mentality, it doesn’t address in any way, the underlying reasons for your emotional eating your obsessions with food, food, addiction, binge-eating or compulsive eating. Remember that these food and body image issues have their roots in childhood adversity, intergenerational trauma, abuse, and neglect as well as having a genetic basis. So again, you can’t hate yourself then, and you can’t fix your childhood trauma by being thin being thin won’t fix that. Body image is established interestingly by the age of six, sort of very early age. And at that age, children are aware of how they look and they’re also aware of stuff bias against certain body types. And during adolescence, body image continues to change and develop. And for women, it continues to worsen external factors like trauma, cultural influences, media relationships in life experiences all have a dramatic impact on body image.
So again, there’s no amount of whipping yourself into shape that will change your genes, fix your trauma or erase childhood neglect. Now emotional eating, binge eating and food addiction are caused by changes in the brain. And we’ve talked about this before, and these changes come about from childhood adversity or toxic stress. So what happens to the brain? Well, toxic stress in childhood adversity changes the hard wiring or architecture of the brain. This then leads to core beliefs like I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable. And those beliefs then fuel your behaviors of emotional eating, binge eating and food addiction. So when you’ve experienced toxic stress or childhood adversity, it changes your the hard wiring and children are always trying to figure out. Like, why am I being hurt? Why is someone not paying attention to me? And they use really blame themselves. And that’s where they develop those negative core beliefs of I’m not worthy. So you have a child who’s been maybe emotionally or physically neglected or who’s being physically or socially, sexually abused. And in their child mind, they’re wondering. What’s wrong with me. Cause why would mommy or daddy or uncle Joe or some stranger, why would this happen to me? Unless something was wrong with me. And then they develop these negative core beliefs. I’m not worthy. I’m not good enough. Something’s wrong with me? That’s the essential core belief. And that’s then what fuels that’s kind of like what, how I describe it as wearing a pair of colored glasses throughout your life. Once you have that core belief you’re wearing those colored glasses, wherever you go. So in school you have those glasses on and those glasses are the I’m not worthy glasses, or I’m not lovable glasses and everything you see around you in school, in work, in relationships, in your marriage, in all areas of your life. Are viewed through those colored lenses of I’m not worthy, for example.
So I hope that helps you understand why being fan won’t erase childhood trauma or neglect. We know that emotional eating binge eating and food addiction. You know, caused by these early life experiences, which have an impact on the brain and then lead to us using food as a way to sue negative feelings to better ourselves. And this is obviously it’s going to be a chronic, chronic problem. If you can accept. The chronic nature of these foot and body image issues, you can understand that is a long term issue that can’t be fixed by being on a diet for three months or losing 50 pounds. If self hatred won’t help you overcome your struggles with eating behaviors what will? Well, the key to understand the input, the key is to understand the importance of your thoughts. Remember those thoughts? I’m not worthy. I’m not good enough. No one will love me unless I’m too weak. When you understand what beliefs you hold about your body and how you formed these beliefs. You’ll be in a position to form a new, more mature and healthy view of your body. So what are some of the things that cause body hatred. Well, first of all, societal norms, the media is involved here often as particularly girls mature, they become obsessed with being more attractive and in Western culture, this beans being thin. If you are, you know, from African American culture, Latinex culture and Asian culture, you may have different cultural ideals, but the more acculturated you are to the dominant society the more you adopt and believe in the dominant society, the more likely you are to adopt the thin ideal as your own.
So, okay. I had a, a lovely, um, African American woman who, young woman who I, um, was on her podcast recently and she’s a great interviewer. And she had had a dilemma, like I was raised, I’m a black woman, but I was raised in. The suburbs, all my friends were white. You know, I may even be married to a white man. So which body ideal should I be adopting? And I think that points to what I just talked about. The more exposed and acculturated you are to the dominant society, the more likely you are, or if you are a black woman with a curvaceous body to feel like. You need to be thin in order to be attractive. And it may be important to recognize that you can change that viewpoint. Maybe looking one of the ways to do that is looking in society for other norms of women who are accomplishing great things. In larger bodies, women who, you know, have, I mean, there’s so many now on YouTube or people who have blogs, it’s about running while fat or dancing while fat or et cetera, and these, or accomplishing great things, no matter their size. And these are the women I would say, turn to, you know, look at Michelle Obama, look at Lizzo, look at you know, other people who exemplify something you’re looking for in your culture. So social societal norms are one constant body hatred.
The second is lack of social support. That can be a big risk factor for body hatred. And why is that? Well, I think, you know, when you don’t have a lot of social support, it makes it difficult for you to feel good about yourself. Feeling that you’re not fully accepted or loved by your family and friends makes it harder to love and accept yourself. Especially when your body’s going through changes and as women, you know, our bodies are going through changes all the time versus puberty and then, you know adulthood and then pregnancy potentially, sometimes illness can change the body. Aging can change the body, et cetera. So in many young women mature early and are bullied by their peers or even by members of their own family. And then, then they start to feel bad about their body. So social support or lack of it has less effective on boys, but it definitely has an effect on girls.
The third cause of body hatred is perfectionism. This personality trait is, especially, especially when it takes the form of fear of making mistakes or the big one I see in the anchor program that we work on a lot is fear of being judged by others. This can lead you to attempt, to constantly be working on your body to try to create the perfect body based on media images or other cultural ideals as part of perfectionism, the need to be overly organized. Or be in control of your environment may also promote body hatred, which might be explained by the need to control body appearance. And when you’re not able to do this, then you may fall into that negative self-criticism, negative moods that are all focused on, you know, if only I could lose weight, then everything would work out better. But again, one of the most common causes of body hatred that stems from traumatic experiences. We know that one in five women and one in 70 men will be raped in their lifetime. That’s from the centers for disease control, sexual assault at any time in your life can lead to feelings of powerlessness or worthlessness and many times in an effort to cope. We may focus on trying to control the things we can control, which we think is our body.
Now, sexual trauma is more prevalent in the history of people with eating disorders, then in those without, and when sexual trauma comes before at the beginning of disordered eating or an eating disorder, it then leads to body dissatisfaction as I’ve described. And the eating disorder then becomes a way to cope with the trauma or to regulate negative emotions. You know, you feel bad about yourself or you get really angry at work and then your boss makes you feel like you’ve screwed up. You use food as a way to regulate your emotions is the way to calm down as a way to push feelings down as a way to numb yourself. If you’re African American or black, and you’ve been a victim of trauma, then body dissatisfaction and depression have also been associated with this verity of either physical or sexual assault. In other words, the more severe the assault, the more likely you would be to experience body dissatisfaction and depression. That is violation of trust is part of what is involved in sexual trauma. And often people who’ve experienced a cell door abuse may not even connect there had experience with their current body hatred. And that’s because sexual trauma doesn’t affect everybody in the same way. However, if you are experiencing body hatred and you’ve had experienced sexual trauma, the trauma is definitely a significant causative factor of your body image issues. And again, this is about getting to them the root cause of why you continue to struggle with body hatred. So this is what we spend a lot of time working on in the anchor program. And finally another cause of body dissatisfaction involves, um, depression struggle with moods, extreme measures to lose weight such as recurrent or yo yo dieting, binge eating, purging, fasting, or excessive exercise are associated with emotional distress and feelings of guilt, frustration, or a loss of control. All of these feelings, foster body hatred. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or you suffer from depression, you may have noticed that that, that increases your body hatred. It increases the focus on what you don’t like about your funny body and the tendency to make these negative comparisons between your body and that your peers or other family members. I know you’re thinking well, if my thighs just weren’t so big. I wouldn’t hate my body or if, you know, whatever, fill in the blank was different. I wouldn’t hate my body, but body hatred really isn’t associated with body weight size, shape especially in boys, in one study, male adolescents who are most dissatisfied with their bodies were of no different weight than those who were happy with their bodies.
If you hate your body, that feeling may be okay cause of significant suffering in your life. It can lead to struggles with you, making choices about what to wear thoughts about your body, that plague use throughout the day and make it difficult for you to, to enjoy being in social situations or a sidelines. You puts you on the sideline waiting to be in a thinner body before you go after your dreams before you have a relationship before you fill in the blank and bottom line is body hatred definitely makes it more challenging for you to even want to take care of your body. And you may even have that adversarial relationship where you blame your body for how it makes you feel.
So these are all components of body hatred and all causes for body hatred. But just again, think about how much time and energy you’ve already put into trying to fix your, to get rid of your food addiction, binge eating and emotionally, how much time and energy have you been putting into trying to fix your body size too? The only way to break the vicious cycle of cravings and binges and obsessive thoughts about food and your body is through awareness. So the first thing is being aware. Yeah. I’m spending 50 to 75% of my time thinking about, you know, how much I hate my body, thinking about food, thinking about what to eat, not to eat what diet as you go on, et cetera. And it may seem as if your experience of these behaviors, thoughts, cravings, and emotions overcome you and are automatic and unconscious. You know, that feeling of you are sitting on the couch and next thing you know, the box of donuts is empty or being on autopilot may feel good in some ways, you know, you that’s your escape, but we all have to wake up sometime and when you wake up or become conscious of present again, you may be flooded with negative emotions and self judgment about your behavior, and you may feel stuck in this vicious cycle. So I don’t only make sense that staying conscious by learning to stay in touch with your body and being aware of your thoughts and your emotions will help you avoid some behaviors and definitely can help you avoid a negative self-talk and negative emotions. It’s all about where your attention is.
Okay. Well, we’ve come to the end of the podcast, another podcast. I hope you guys are doing well out there and that you’re dealing with your stress of kids going back to school or not going back to school, being still stuck in the house to some degree. I hope that you’re able to get something from this podcast that will enable you to stay aware, to stay awake to what’s going on in your mind, in your, your thoughts, your emotions, and in your body. So I’m going to give you a little homework. If you choose to accept it, ask yourself how your body hatred limits your life and here are some areas where it might limit your life. So think about this. How does body your body hatred limit your life? When you go shopping for clothing? How does your body hatred limit your life in your friendships or in intimate relationships? Or maybe you don’t even have an intimate relationship, but you’d like to have one. How are you limited by your body? Hatred? How does your body hatred limit you in social situations? What about at work? What about with your children? So this is a seed or thought and for pondering. And the important thing to think about the important thing to ponder on about this seed is, remember I said, ask you how much of your time you spend thinking about food or body image issues. If you’re spending 50 to 75% of your time, then you are not being present in your friendships. You’re not having enough time to be present with your children to not be fully present at work or in social situations. So that’s the seed to ponder compare how much time and energy you’re spending on your foot and body image issues. And then how that limits you and keeps you from being present with the people in your lives and with the situations in your life. And finally, if you’re tired of battling against your body, you’re ready to lay down the sword. You ready to make peace with your body? You can set up a free consult to discuss how the anchor program can help you put it in to emotionally include addiction and binge eating.
Remember, the anchor program is a non diet, online program, so you can be anywhere in the world. And I’ve had people all over the world on this program and it gives you group and individual sessions. To help with binge eating, emotional eating food addiction, and compostable reading. So check the show notes, schedule your free consult. And I hope this podcast was helpful. Be sure and give me any kind of positive rating to help draw people to the show. And I’ll talk to you next time. Thanks.