Food Is Not Your Enemy

Body Acceptance, or Habit Acceptance?

The U.S. is a very contradictory culture when it comes to food and weight. On the one hand, we’re encouraged to eat at every turn, and given enormous, calorie-laden portions when we eat out in restaurants. On the other, the media consistently sends us messages that we’re too fat, either by lionizing very very thin women or by pushing fad diets on us on the cover of every magazine.

And then from another direction comes the directive to “love your body.” Those behind this well-meaning message encourage us to accept that we’ll never be the size of a runway model, that being that thin is unnatural, and that instead of dieting we should just be happy with what we’ve got.

While I support the idea that we should love ourselves and that we need to stop obsessing about fitting into a size that’s unrealistic for our body type, I do want to raise this question: Should we love our body as it is, unconditionally, if our weight is jeopardizing our health?

Is the excuse “I’m just a big girl/boy” valid if you’re 50 or more pounds overweight, diabetic, not exercising, and eating candy, ice cream, and fast food every day? If you think it is, I would argue that you’re not loving your body in this case–what you’re loving and defending are your habits. When people are truly overweight by medical measures or have type 2 diabetes, it’s rarely a mystery why. I’ve worked with several clients who are diabetic and their food tells the story: When they first come to see me more often than not they eat fast food several times a week if not every day, they eat sweets a few times a day, and they don’t exercise. If you really love your body, then why not think about changing your habits, and honoring your body by providing it with healthy food and movement that will help it flourish and feel good? And if, after altering your habits for the better, you feel the best you’ve ever felt but still can’t wear Victoria or David Beckham’s clothes, then you’ll know your body is in a good place and you should let it be where it is.

So yes, love your body. But show that love by honoring it, and treating it like it deserves to be healthy. Because it does.

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