My heart feels heavy. Self magazine has released the results of an online poll of 4000 women between the ages of 25-45. The poll was conducted in conjunction with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sixty-five percent of the women polled reported some behaviors of disordered eating. Eating habits such as skipping meals, avoiding carbohydrates and, in some cases, extreme dieting, were thought by some women to be “normal.”
Some of the additional findings included:
• 67 percent of the women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) were trying to lose weight.
• 53 percent of dieters were already at a healthy weight and were still trying to lose weight.
• 39 percent of the women said concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness.
• 37 percent of the women said they regularly skip meals to try to lose weight.
• 27 percent said they’d be extremely upset if they gained just five pounds.
• 26 percent reported that they had eliminated entire food groups from their diets.
• 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day.
• 13 percent said they smoke to lose weight.
• 12 percent said they often eat when they’re not hungry, and 49 percent sometimes do.
We need a new relationship with food. This one isn’t working!
Food is not the enemy. Our appetites, our cravings, our hungers are not bad things. We deserve to be satisfied—it’s just that food isn’t always the thing we need.
The articles on dieting and the research and polls such as this one make clear that obsessing about food and entrenching ourselves in diets only makes things worse–these strategies clearly don’t improve our relationship with food. Most of the time our relationship with food isn’t actually about the food. It’s about the things, the feelings, the needs and cravings we have learned to use food to feed.
For many, it would be helpful to learn how to give food a smaller place in their lives, but this does not mean creating a food or diet or weight loss obsession.
We need a new relationship with food. It’s not the enemy. And the way out of the diet trap isn’t another diet.
Take good care,