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Dear OO Newsletter,
I have high cholesterol and high blood fat. Therefore, it is quite difficult not to diet. Do you have any tips?
This question comes up quite often. In many people, cholesterol levels respond to changes in diet and exercise. The question is: Are you able to diet successfully? In our experience, compulsive eaters respond to any dietary restrictions in the way they have always responded to diets: they conform for awhile and then, they rebel. If however, through demand feeding, a compulsive eater gets to a point where she is using food as a fuel rather than a tranquilizer, the chances are that, in the process, her overall diet has changed a great deal and she is eating a wide variety of foods, none of them in great quantity. If at this point, for health reasons, she thinks that her food choices could use some evaluation, she has several options. She can focus on her matchmaking to see if her choices are truly consonant with what her body seems to crave. She can also begin to experiment with adding and subtracting different foods from her repertoire. As a no-longer compulsive eater, it is possible to decide to eat in one way or another and not have it be a deprivation; i.e., a diet. We know many demand feeders who, for one reason or another, have eliminated certain foods from their routine. They are able to do so because as reliable self-caretakers, they are dedicated to making themselves feel as good as possible. They also know that they will never deprive themselves of any food if they truly want and/or need it.
Dear OO Newsletter,
In my work to deal with my compulsive overeating I have come to the point of trying to be more honest and forthcoming with my (grown) daughter about my struggle with food and deprivation of all kinds and how it has probably negatively impacted her life. Can you talk a bit about how to keep one's journey with this problem separate from one's daughter's. Is this at all possible or do I have to wait for the day that I have resolved my own eating problem to be in a position to help her?
This question reflects the inter-generational struggle with Bad Body Fever. We live in a world in which women are devalued and are seen as "less than." For most women, food and body preoccupations are the ways in which we express our discomfort with being second class citizens. Therefore, it is very hard to separate our own struggles from those of our daughters. We are part of a system that teaches women to body shape rather than world shape.
So, what do you do when your daughter says, "I'm too fat?" You've said the same thing thousands of times. Now it's time to share your new perspective. You can tell her that each time you've accused yourself of being too fat, you have felt miserable, depressed, powerless and susceptible to a $40 billion diet industry ready to exploit your discontent with your body and your eating. Enough!! You can go on and tell her that women are banding together, here and abroad, to declare an end to body bashing and dieting.
As difficult as it is, saying "NO" to body hatred is a crucial step in freeing yourself, your daughter and women. Why keep silent about your process? On the contrary, your new position needs to be aired until it becomes a natural process.
Let's question our body contempt by asking, "Who says we can't be beautiful and healthy at any size? Why should one size fit all? What an absurd notion. Variety is the spice of life. Let's enjoy our whatever sized bodies and let's make food a friend, not a foe to run from all of our lives. We have much better things to do in our lives than scream about what we look like and what we eat. Let's focus on what's really important." That's what we think you can begin to say to your daughter and her daughter and to all the daughters after that.