Are you sabotaging your own confidence?
If you’re constantly on a rollercoaster of on-and-off a diet, you weigh yourself daily, and your mood is determined by whether you fit into your skinny jeans…the chances are yes.
It’s not easy to always feel confident and positive, and many things can affect this, from your childhood to the media. But there’s a big insidious elephant in the room that is constantly chipping away at your self-esteem that you can actually do something about right now. It’s called the diet, and it has a major impact on how you feel about yourself.
Here’s what a typical chronic dieter goes through:
Suzie feels bad because she’s put on a bit of weight and according to the latest fashion magazine, she should be a size 0 to be fit and healthy. So, she goes on the latest diet and vows to be strict with herself so that she can be skinny, happy and successful. She refuses social invitations to go out for meals with friends (too much temptation). She works out like crazy at the gym (even though she’s exhausted). She eats dry chicken and kale (although it’s tasteless).
Eventually her brain and body rebel and in true Beastie Boys-style, they fight for their right to PARTY. And this party means BINGE-TIME. Suzie breaks her strict diet and binges on anything yummy she can find. Until she feels sick, bloated and disgusted with herself. Her self-esteem is now on the floor. She feels like a failure and resolves to go back on the diet and be better this time around.
But as Mr. Edison wisely said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
Dieting is insane. It doesn’t work, time and time again, and yet we blame ourselves, not the diet.
This puts us on a trajectory of self-loathing, depression, anxiety and low confidence, and if left unchecked this can lead to eating disorders and serious mental health issues. In fact, dieters are 8 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who don’t diet.
As we can see from our friend Suzie, dieting also leads to uncontrolled over-eating or binges, because dieters don’t learn to trust their bodies, or themselves around food. This results in eating more than the body needs and unhealthy weight yo-yo’ing.
Our relationship with food directly impacts our relationship with our bodies and self-esteem.
If you can relate to Suzie, start to recognize that your diet is failing you, and in order to boost your physical health AND your confidence it’s time to kick dieting to the curb. Start to trust your body and listen to it for cues of when you’re actually hungry and what your body needs. Then, honor that by eating what you want, when you want. This will help you get to and maintain a healthy weight for your body, make you happier and more confident and allow you the freedom to get on with doing amazing things in your life.
If you have kids, particularly daughters, it’s important to teach them early about body confidence and the dangers of dieting too. Young women can easily get caught up in the vicious diet-binge cycle that leads to low self-esteem and depression, which leads back to more unhealthy dieting for years to come.
Talk to your child about why images on social media, magazines or TV are unrealistic, edited or airbrushed. Discuss the value of eating a variety of foods to get all the different nutrients their body needs to function properly. Teach them to be mindful eaters and to listen intuitively to what their body is telling them, and how their tastes are unique. Chat about how food is just fuel for their body and not a moral judgment such as ‘clean-eating’ or “guilty-pleasure food”. Praise them for non-body achievements to move the emphasis from physical attributes to their skills, behavior and personality traits. Advise them that being healthy ‘most of the time’ is great – no one is perfect, and we all need a little wiggle room.
PS: My new course FOOD FREEDOM, coming out soon will have a whole chapter on teaching your kids how to be mindful healthy eaters. Get on my mailing list to stay updated on when it launches.