We live in a pretty jacked up world when it comes to eating, exercise, body image and health. The messaging that’s out there is extreme – everything from detox diets, to “fitspiration,” to no-pain-no-gain exercise, to low carb diets, to fasting for weight loss. There is virtually no extreme to which our culture won’t go with this stuff.
It’s hard to escape, especially in this age of digital media. Our social media feeds, email inboxes and news and entertainment websites are packed full of articles, posts, comments and opinions about what is “right” and “wrong.”
It goes beyond just digital media though. Sitting in a coffee shop as I write this, I’ve overheard multiple conversations about what we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat and drink. Take a trip to the grocery store and you’ll see certain foods given the store dietitian’s stamp of approval, and flyers for how to eat healthier – alongside ginormous portions of baked goods, sandwiches, salads, pizza, Chinese food. It’s confusing to say the least.
If you make it out of the grocery store with your sanity in tact, you may be subjected to weight loss ads on the radio in your car where the radio station host of your favorite morning show touts how much weight he or she lost using the diet.
Swing by a restaurant for a bite to eat, and you’ll see the calories posted next to each item on the menu. Makes it hard to discern what you really want to eat, huh?
Make an appointment with your doctor, and the first thing they’ll do is weigh you. You’ll likely get kudos from the nurse if you’ve lost weight, and an awkward silence if you’ve gained. Your doctor is almost certain to talk to you abut your BMI, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to be classified as “overweight” or “obese.” This leaves little time for an actual discussion about your health.
Feeling ashamed and defeated, you might go home and drown your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, followed by beating yourself up for your lack of willpower and self-control.
Little did you know that much of it it wasn’t in your conscious control to begin with.
As much as we’d like to think that we are intelligent human beings who can’t be manipulated by our environment, every single one of us is in some way or another.
We can actually use this to our advantage. What if you were to flip the script and create an environment for yourself that oozes with recovery-oriented messages?
5 ways to transform your environment:
- You can start with your social media feed. Unfollow everything that promotes the diet culture. Seek out organizations and individuals who inspire your recovery. Most treatment centers and many treatment providers have social media feeds.
- Stop clicking on articles about food/weight/diet/exercise/health. Get your info from your recovery sources since they will have vetted it ahead of time for you.
- Find a doctor who will listen to you and understands your recovery. And teach the nurse not comment on your weight one way or the other. Better yet, don’t get weighed at the doctor’s office at all (unless there is a legit medical necessity).
- Dress your body in clothing that you like and that is comfortable. Forget what society says you “should” wear based on fashion trends or your body type. Wear what YOU like. You’ll be surprised at how empowering this is.
- Toss out all of your diet books, scales, food diaries, measuring tapes, and old clothes that don’t fit. These aren’t going to make you feel better about yourself, and they aren’t going to help you recover. Surround yourself with things that are interesting, inspiring and beautiful to you.
By infusing your life with the messaging that you need in order to recover, you are taking the reins. Of course, you won’t be able to entirely avoid the cultural messaging that is triggering or unhelpful, but you’ll be better armored against it. You deserve this!