Archive for the tag - shame

Fat Shaming Just Makes You Fatter.

o-FAT-SHAME-STUDY-facebookThere are many ways to motivate people to lose weight. But shame isn’t one of them.

That is, at least, according to a new study about weight stigma from a researcher at UC Santa Barbara. According to the findings, the media’s characterization of overweight people as lazy, weak-minded and self-indulgent may actually be contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve it.

For the experiment, women of various weights, shapes and sizes were divided into two groups. One group of women read a mock article titled “Quit Smoking Or Lose Your Job.” The second group read a mock article titled “Lose Weight or Lose Your Job.”

After reading the article, the women in both groups had to describe what they had just read. Then, each of the women was left in a waiting room for 10 minutes. The waiting room was stocked with a variety of pre-weighted snack foods and candies.

According to the data, the women who read the weight-stigmatizing article ate significantly more food than any other group of women. In a final set of questions, this group also reported feeling significantly less able to control their eating.

In other words, the negative messages that society creates about overweight people aren’t a motivating factor in weight loss. In fact, it seems that they have the opposite effect. It’s also not really a surprise, especially since overeating is a way for some people to feel comfort. Which leads to more weight gain, and then more shame and guilt – and then more overeating as comfort. It’s a vicious cycle.

Instead of shaming ourselves or other people into losing weight, try a diet of inspiration, kindness and love. If you want to make positive changes, let’s start with positive thoughts.

Is It Okay to Cheat on Your Diet Sometimes?

stackOfDoughnutsI get a lot of emails and questions about cheating on a diet or nutrition plan.

First things first, I’m not a big fan of the word “cheating.” It’s a loaded word and one that we often associate with dishonesty in a relationship. After the cheating comes the guilt, and then the guilt inspires nothing but feelings of shame and more negativity. Such downward cycles can be very destructive in any aspect of life – and food is no exception.

In fact, many people turn to food as a way to soothe and comfort, and thus the very act of cheating can create a cycle of binging, unhealthy choices and even more guilt. And even more binging.

You get the idea.

Instead of giving yourself cheat days, I’ve always said that it’s really about creating balance. Most of the time, eat the nourishing foods that your body needs. Eat the lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains that provide the nutrients and energy to fuel your life. And then some of the time, indulge in those foods that you crave.

I’ve always espoused the 80/20 rule for newbies. Eat healthy 80% of the time. It’s a great way to create balance in your life. After all, if you resist an unhealthy food that you crave – you’ll probably just crave it even more. The more you say to yourself, “I can’t eat ice cream,” the more you’re thinking about ice cream. And the more you think about ice cream, the more you’ll crave it.

Here’s the catch. Pay attention to how your body feels after the indulgence. How does your body feel after you eat the ice cream? Even without feelings of guilt or shame, our bodies don’t respond well to unhealthy foods. You may feel sluggish, tired or even slightly ill. When you pay attention to how unhealthy foods make your body feel, you may discover that you crave those unhealthy foods a little less.

Over time, the 80/20 rule may even become the 90/10 rule. Who knows?

In the comments below, share your favorite cheat balance food. Mine is pepperoni pizza. Mmm.

Controversial Obesity Ads: Is It The Wrong Message?

The other day, I came across a controversial anti-obesity campaign that targets Georgian families – where some 40% of children are either overweight or obese. With a million advertising budget, commercials and billboards featuring overweight kids are being run across the state. The campaign features tag lines like “it’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not.”

It begs the question: Is the campaign effective? Or does it send the wrong message?

On one hand, the campaign is getting a lot of media attention and publicity. Almost all of the major news outlets have run stories about the controversial campaign. People are talking – and the obesity epidemic is getting a bigger share of the spotlight.

But on the other hand, I don’t think you can inspire lasting lifestyle changes through shame. If you don’t feel good about your body – or your relationship with your body is badly damaged – it’s much harder to make decisions that honor it like exercise and nutrition. Lasting lifestyle transformations occur through a stronger, more loving relationship with our body – and that’s not something that this campaign helps to inspire.

Some might even argue that by infusing children with even more shame and insecurities, this campaign does more harm than good. Rather than motivate children and parents to change their habits, even more people may turn to food as a way to cope with the guilt and pain.

Ultimately, time will tell if this $25 million campaign is money well spent – and if it does, in fact, make a significant dent in Georgia’s obesity problem.

In the meantime, what do you think? Does this campaign go too far? Or do you think it’s what people need to hear? Let me know in the comments below.