Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Black or White

As a psychologist, I'm quick to point out all-or-nothing thinking - the kind of thought pattern that polarizes things into categories of good and bad or, really, any two camps - without leaving room for the middle ground.

So, it may come as a surprise to hear me say that I think professionals and products and plans are either recovery-oriented or not - but I do.

If a therapist is advertising her treatment program, designed to curb overeating, as a tool for weight-loss, I don't see her as recovery-oriented. Part of the reason that people overeat is due to the diet mentality. If a yoga instructor promotes the slimming effects of her teaching, I don't see her as recovery-oriented (or as the kind of yogi whose teachings I'm interested in following). If a health coach is helping people recover from disordered eating by prescribing a particular meal plan, I don't see her as recovery-oriented. And if a food company is selling a product designed to tame cravings or cure stubborn belly fat, I don't see this company as recovery-oriented.

We live in a diet-centric, disordered world. And I know it's reductionistic, but people are either buying into this mentality or working really hard to challenge it. And you can't be promoting recovery unless you're actively challenging our nation's fixation on weight and shape.

So there it is, in black-and-white terms: you're either part of the problem or part of the solution. Pick a side.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at


Meliss said...

it's not about the food. food's a symptom. when i stopped eating compulsively, i started drinking alcoholically, then i turned to drugs.. same causes and conditions underneath

no diet could help that!

Jill Wilson said...

Literally, was just thinking something like this today - a psychologist I follow on twitter (who posts a lot about recovery) re-tweeted all these things about how bad sugar is and such. Such a mixed message and it feels like I have to unfollow that person now.

I also found some videos online ("Institute for the Psychology of Eating")a while back that have been helpful, but then they publish books on how to lose weight. So that's another shake my head moment...

And perhaps most challenging was when my local ED recovery non-profit put a link up to the newest jeans-based Special K commercial - I left a comment about how the commercial may be positive, but this is coming from a brand that is trying to sell you cereal that, in previous campaigns, suggesting eating said cereal as meal replacements to lose weight. Plus the slogan "what will you gain when you lose", has that been dropped? Not sure? Anyway,I was answered by the person who posted it saying they think it's great companies are starting to share more positive advertising, pretty much this is better than anything else. Yes, that is great, but we must look critically and constructively at media who tries to be body positive for the reason of selling something, particularly products that just reinforce our dangerous social norms.

Yeah, was going to blog about this - frustrating! Thanks for keeping things real.

drstaceyny said...

JW - yes to all of that. Special K had it's anti Fat Talk campaign but also has 70-calorie treats that allow us to "indulge while staying on track." Mixed messages.

Meliss said...

it's such a complicated issue. i do think, that whether i like to admit it or not, i do like to be on the thin side. it's comfortable for me.

and there is the societal stuff, that i have, sadly, bought into. i like the clothes i fit into, i like that no one thinks i could stand to "lose a few", i like that my body doesn't stand out...........

Jill Wilson said...

Meliss - It's a lot easier to accept and love our bodies when they fit into social norms. Our culture fat shames, making it so much harder and challenging for heavier people to feel accepted and great about themselves. I think this post from Science of Eds gets to the heart of what I'm talking about:

Carla Dillon said...
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