Imagine you are caring for a child. For fun you took her to the park to play. She was having so much fun that you completely lost track of time. Upon returning home you realize it’s way past snack time so you rush to get her something prepared to eat. She’s cranky and on the verge of a meltdown due to the extreme hunger. She starts eating and eats very quickly. She leaves the table to go play with her toys and comes back in crying a few minutes later. “My tummy hurts!” she cries. She had overeaten.
What would you say to her? Chances are it wouldn’t be something like “You idiot, see what happens when you eat so much. That was way too many calories and now you’ve ruined your whole day. You’re going to get fat.” I hope you wouldn’t respond this way to a child. It’s emotionally abusive. Yet this is how so many of us talk to ourselves. This internal dialogue bludgeons us into shame and submission.
Most likely you would respond to the child with compassion. You might say something like “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry your tummy hurts. Everybody overeats sometimes. Let’s lie down and rest until you feel better.” Feels a lot different, huh? Research shows that those who can give themselves compassion will recover more quickly from eating and body image issues. Quick, grab a pen and paper. Write down 5 compassionate statements that you can use when you’re having a “fat attack”. Carry this list with you at all times. You can even save it in your phone (that I’m sure is attached like an extra appendage) for easy access. Rather than shaming yourself read these statements – saying them aloud is even better because of how it engages the brain. Over time you will naturally become more compassionate with yourself. It will allow you to heal your relationship with food.