Eating Disorders

Fantasy and fairy tales

May 16, 2016

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

There once was a princess who was incredibly lonely.  Her heart's desire was to find a prince and fall in love.  They would lead successful, happy lives of royalty.  To her dismay, she hadn't met her prince yet, and she was convinced it was because of her major flaw: she was fat.  After all, the other princesses were all in relationships, and they were thin.  So the princess went on a quest to find her way to thinness.  Her days were spent counting calories, points, or grams, based on whatever diet program she was on.  She even had her chef make special calorie-controlled meals.  And when she wasn't obsessing over food she was forcing herself to exercise.  The more calories she could burn off the better, because that meant she might lose weight.  She turned down many social engagements because the food and drinks were just too tempting.  On those lonely nights she often snuck into the kitchen after the chef had gone home and secretly ate whatever she could get her hands on.  She'd eventually retire to bed full of guilt and shame for eating the food she'd vowed not to eat, fretting that she'd never meet her prince because she couldn't get thin.  Then one day, she found a new diet and it worked!  She finally got thin and started going to parties.  Everyone complimented her.  She had never felt so beautiful.  Then she met her prince.  They got married and lived happily ever after.  

The fantasy of being thin and the idea that it comes with a fairy tale ending is just that, a fantasy.

Deb Burgard writes, "Makeovers are today's version of fairy tales, with abundant before and after stories of weight loss, plastic surgery, and house remodels.  In these narratives, all problems disappear with a makeover; indeed, they are almost always accompanied by the statement, "I'm a whole new person!"

Recognizing that your desire for thinness is a fantasy is something you need to let go of.  A grieving process often accompanies the loss of this dream.  Because the reality is that thinness won't change your life in the ways that you imagine it would.  There are certainly things it would change.  For example, yes, you would wear smaller clothes.  But the idea that wearing a smaller size will result in overall happiness is magical thinking.  You need to acknowledge that weight loss can and can't change.  Burgard also writes, "The loss of the fantasy of being thin is a requirement for healing the adversarial relationship with one's body.  It is filled with grief as well as unexpected gifts."  

The unexpected gifts of finding peace with your body are certainly worth the effort of closing the book on the fairy tale of weight loss. 


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