by Lauren Schifferdecker, MA, LCPC founder of Inspire
My friends, let’s talk about food and how we feel about our bodies. We’ve got holidays, more restrictions about stay-at-home-orders, winter coming up. It’s a perfect storm for eating issues. At Inspire, we are seeing a big rise in disordered eating during the COVID pandemic.
If you struggle with food or how you feel about your body, you are not alone!!!!! It’s also not your fault. I want you to hear that and really take that in. You are a darling, wonderful, and beautiful. You are whole and complete. The strangling feeling of shame is debilitating and doesn’t help anything.
It’s time we free ourselves from shame. It’s time to love ourselves, fight the “diet culture” myths, the comparing we do on Social Media and strive toward being our healthiest selves — physically and mentally.
Don’t worry, I have some friends, tools, inspiring Facebook & IG accounts, books and resources to help.
Let’s start with the professionals for eating…
Recently our team sat down *virtually* with the folks at The Renfrew Center, one of the top residential centers for Eating Disorder’s in the nation. They just celebrated 35 years, treating more than 85,000 adolescents, girls & women. They have 19 locations across the country — and one of them is our neighbor — right here in good ‘ole Northbrook, Illinois!!
Let me tell you, they know their ‘stuff’ on eating and I wanted to share with you some insights & tools you can use at home– especially in light of the upcoming Holidays.
One of the most interesting things is the difference between an Eating Disorder and Disordered Eating…
People often think of an Eating Disorder as something you either have or don’t have. We also often make the mistake of thinking that if a person’s body weight seems to be normal, they don’t need to worry about Disordered Eating. Ideally, we want to be Healthy at Every Size. Physically and mentally!!
First step…let yourself be curious if you have any warning flags around your eating…
Sound familiar??? I don’t know many people who don’t check at least one of those boxes. Myself included!!
We have to be careful. There is a continuum of disordered eating. Meaning, there are levels of issues … not a light switch for eating disorder or not.
Next step, become aware of where you are on the continuum of disordered eating….
Gently ask yourself where you may fall on this continuum? There’s a lot of in-between from healthy eating to an official eating disorder.
No matter where you fall, healthy eating and self-acceptance are always good to strive towards!!
Let’s talk about how you feel about your body….
Take it from a real mom who is dedicated to positive body image and helping others to stop comparing to what we see on SOCIAL MEDIA!!
Meet my new body-image hero: Johanna Grange @jogrange
Johanna is a real, rocking Glenview mom who owns own a digital + social media marketing agency called Oak Street Social. In her personal life, she is a fiercely & vulnerably normalizing the bloat and sharing my #IBS style + story one day at a time. Her motto? All tummies are beautiful tummies. And her story is touching lives.. in fact she has nearly 65k followers for her personal Instagram account!!!!
Here’s her caption to the above photo (and a DOSE OF LIFE-GIVING REALITY!)
This is the power of social media. We need to be cognizant of the heavy editing that we are consuming every.single.day. And what’s worse…we are comparing ourselves to the final image which is often so far from reality and completely manipulated!
I will let you in on a little secret. There’s nothing wrong with either body because it’s the SAME body. Shot five minutes apart. Same me, no weight loss, no body editing; I simply changed my pose and angled my body differently.
Save this post as a reminder that nothing is ever as it seems. What you can control is your mental wellness and the daily affirmations you give yourself. All bodies are beautiful including yours!
I reached out to Johanna to see if she had anything to share personally, with us friends as we head into the holidays….
Joanna reminded me that the holidays can be triggering for so many of us who are not only isolated but comparing ourselves to what we see on social media. The most important thing to remind yourself is that all bodies are beautiful and ultimately there’s no one else who could decide your self-worth or your inner and outer beauty but you.
So this year, more than ever before, it’s important for us to allow ourselves to enjoy the holidays as they’re meant to be enjoyed and find the light in a particularly dark and tough time. And enjoy all your favorite foods in moderation. There is no sin in that and it’s just one day. For me, personally, as long as I am moving my body and breaking a sweat every single day, then I have accomplished something. And I do it for my mind spirit and mental wellness. I don’t do it for the scale and what it’s going to read.”
See why I love her so much?? Thank you Johanna!!
3 Tools to Help
#1 Notice what you’re feeding your mind + soul
What you are watching, scrolling, reading … all feed your mind and soul. It is so important to be feeding your heart and soul with positive, real, genuine things that make your heart happy. If there is an account, show, story, etc. that makes you feel negatively, sad, jealous, upset — take a pause and replace it with things that make you laugh, smile, and feel confident in your day! We have a list of positive body Instagram accounts that Renfrew shared with us, see below!
#2 Notice your cues
There are biological (physical hunger or fullness), environmental (moms house, family dinner table smell of food), relational (family members, friends, how you feel with them influences your food) and emotional cues (sad, angry, hurt, upset, frustrated, stuck, bored, nervous) that all influence your eating. Plan ahead for what things will impact you the most. Knowing it ahead of time, is half the battle. Play a game of Bingo in your head or secretly with a friend to be playful with your triggers or cues.
Take some time and think about what triggers you around eating. If you’re going to be with other people around a meal, what might they say or do, that might influence your eating. A comment about your weight, how much you’re eating, or not eating, comparing yourself to other people…take a moment to think about how you might get triggered and plan to say to yourself something kind. Something you would say to a friend in that moment. “Hey sweetie, you’re beautiful, you’re doing okay. Your feelings are hurt, you don’t have to eat, or to get back at them. You are whole and complete, you are incredible.
#3 Practice intuitive and mindful eating
Ask yourself: Is my stomach hungry? If it is, eat. Be like a baby. Babies don’t have rules and restrictions. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Pay attention to your food, the colors, smells, taste, texture. Try to think about what you are eating and enjoy it. Savor it. Be mindful and it will help you stay connected to your inner-baby. You already know how to do this, you just have to unlearn some of the behaviors you’ve picked up along the way.
- The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Fearing The Black Body by Sabina Strings
- The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner
- Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison
- Heavy – Kiese Laymon
- Body Respect by Lindo Bacon
- Body of Truth by Harriet Brown
- Sick Enough by Dr. Jennifer Guadiani
- Things No One WIll Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
- Landwhale by Jess Baker
- Hunger by Roxanne Gay (evocative – trigger warning)
- Beyond Beautiful by Anuschka Rees
- Emotional Agility by Susan David
- Living With Your Body and Other Things You Hate by Emily Sandoz and Troy DuFrene
- Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston
- Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey miller
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff
Positive Body Instagram Accounts to add to the menu