Tuesday, February 05, 2013

On Fat Tuesday I will fear no food

I'm excited about Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras on 12 Feb) this year because now that I've embraced the Health At Every Size approach to health, I no longer torment myself with food as I used to. If I want the food, I eat the food; if I don't want the food, I don't eat the food, y se acabó. Removing all my restrictions on food has gone a long way towards reducing my cravings. Now that I don't believe in good foods and bad foods, donuts and cake have lost their "forbidden fruit" appeal. It turns out that when I give myself permission to have sweets whenever I want, I don't want them all the time!

I've also given myself permission to be whatever size my body naturally is. No more restrictions on food or size for me. It's not easy. A part of me (my inner critic) thinks I should stay thin and eat "right," so many days I struggle with shame and self-hatred. It's tiresome and boring and I'm sick of it, but I'm working through it. Lots of EFT and therapy and writing, but I won't give up because the alternative is to give in to self-loathing, fear and depression.

The book Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body is helping me immensely. Written by Kate Harding of the blog Shapely Prose and Marianne Kirby of the blog The Rotund, this book takes oppressive beliefs about body image and health head on. I'm carrying this book around and reading parts of it over and over. My favorite lessons from it are:
  • The human body is designed to gain weight over time, not lose it.
  • There are no safe, convenient methods for permanently turning a fat person into a thin one (eating less and exercising more only work if you're willing to starve and exhaust yourself indefinitely).
  • Accept your body and focus on being healthy instead of thin.
  • The weight loss industry is milking the whole "obesity epidemic" for profit, at the expense of our self esteem.
  • Science has not proven that carrying extra pounds is bad for your health.
  • There are no good foods or bad foods. There's just food.
  • Girls are taught to dislike and distrust their bodies, which sets women up for a lifetime of misery.
  • Fight impossible feminine body ideals: stop dieting and accept your body as it is right now.
Now that I've read this book, I vow to follow my body's hunger and fullness cues. That means no going hungry, no forcing myself to eat certain foods because they're "good" for me and no guilt or regret over anything I eat. I also avoid eating when I'm not hungry.

I’m also not watching television shows that feature skinny actresses, but no chubby ones. That means I probably won't find out what happens on Revenge this season (an ABC show starring the skinny Emily Van Camp and Madeleine Stowe), but so be it. I will fill my head with typically sized people and know that I am absolutely fine as I am.

I'm even thinking of baking for Fat Tuesday. Why not? This will be the first Fat Tuesday in decades that I won't feel afraid of the goodies. This year I will not tremble in the face of king cake or pączki. If I feel like having sweets, I'll have them. If I don't feel like having sweets, I'll have them later. On Fat Tuesday I will fear no food!
Having written all this, I'm still struggling to fully internalize these new, healthy beliefs. I still quail when my work pants fit tight and I daily mourn the physical moves I can no longer make with my thickened waist. My self-hatred comes and goes. So I keep tapping and I keep re-reading chapters of  Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body. It might take the rest of my life to reach peace with myself. On bad days that prospect depresses me, but on good days I know I can live that way as long as I'm moving in the right direction.

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