One of the things that struck me most about Stephen Guise’s very helpful book called Mini Habits for Weight Loss is a critical few paragraphs about shame and weight loss. His point is a simple one. If we feel ashamed of what or how we eat or how much we weigh or what we look like, those negative feelings make it very hard to use food in a healthy way. Instead we use it to punish ourselves for bad behavior or to numb out from those bad feelings. I know that when I’m in shame around my body or food, I can go from zero to f–k it in a nanosecond around food. Guise says that coming from confidence and pride in our efforts can make all the difference in how successful we are at staying on our food plan.
While guilt (feeling bad about something we’ve done to harm another) can be useful (making amends), shame about ourselves is rarely helpful at all. When I’m in shame around food (just had two cookies, got on the scale, had a third helping), the shame doesn’t make me stop. It’s just the opposite. I already feel terrible and I don’t know how to stop feeling terrible, so if I eat more, I won’t feel anything.
Living in a shame and blame culture the way we do, fasting from shame isn’t easy, but it may be one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies.
What might help you give up shame around food and your body?