We’ve all done it…You and I both know that at one time or another you’ve stressed about your weight…
- Maybe it was in grade 7 when you were bullied for being “fat”.
- Maybe it was when your body started to change when you were pregnant.
- Maybe (cringe) it was when someone mistakenly thought you were pregnant when, in fact, you weren’t
- Maybe it was after you had your first baby and you couldn’t seem to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
- Maybe you’ve ALWAYS stressed about your weight, to this very day…
As women, we are bombarded with pressures to be thin. We are programmed not to be satisfied with our bodies if they aren’t picture perfect and we are often told to restrict food instead of celebrate and enjoy it. We are taught not to eat until we’re full, but rather to eat until we are no longer hungry. Sound familiar?
I attended a VERY inspiring nutrition conference today. I was literally on the edge of my seat for 6 hours soaking up every word from four inspiring women and nutrition experts (Dayle Hayes, RD, Dr. Jaqui Gingras, RD, Robin Anderson, RD and Evelyn Tribole, RD) and couldn’t wait to share the goods with you!
I really resonated with each speaker’s message, not only because they are Registered Dietitians, but also because they are somewhat “radical” in their approaches to dieting- or rather their “non-dieting” approach. I could feel the “ah-ha” moments wash over hundreds of Dietitians and other health professionals. It was very cool. They really challenged the status quo when it came to the way we, as Dietitians, guide our clients…particularly on the the most popular nutrition subject: weight
How does ‘skinny-stress’ effect kids and teens?
With the recent “anti-obesity” movement in North American (particularly American) schools, children are often taught that being “fat” or “overweight” or “chubby” is wrong, bad and ugly. Because of these messages and this stigma, children are now at a higher risk of developing Eating Disorders, low-self-esteem, being bullied and even (worst case scenario), suicide. The claims that are circulating in regards to children being at a higher risk of chronic disease and early death from being overweight just aren’t supported by scientific research or evidence, yet they’re being thrown around freely. Children who are not overweight are hearing these messages too- they are also taking note of how “disgusting” it is to be overweight. These children are ALSO at a higher risk of disordered eating patterns, unnecessary food restrictions and food fears. Ugh- it just riles me up!
Do you have “Skinny Stress”?
The constant stress and anxiety that a child or an adult feels from pressures to be thin creates a cascade of unhealthy events. When someone is stressed (due to bullying, social pressures, embarrassment etc.), they release stress hormones such as Cortisol in the brain. These can actually lead to depositing more fat cells, insulin-resistance and a disruption in the balance of Leptin and Neuropeptide Y which are hormones that regulate hunger. So, in fact, the opposite of what you are trying to achieve is happening- you “stress-eat”, your blood pressure goes up, and you gain more weight.
What about pregnant women?
Believe it or not, there is new research to support that when pregnant women stress about their weight gain chronically throughout pregnancy, the Cortisol released gets passed through to their placenta, putting their baby at an increased risk of poor stress-management and coping skills throughout their lives. Wow.
The take-home message today:
This was a heavy post- I know. But it’s something that we need to start talking about as women and as mothers. We need to start eating for enjoyment, honouring our bodies natural hunger and fullness cues and trusting our bodies to be our best eating guide.
Regular physical activity is important- but it should be something that you truly enjoy. Be active in a way that makes you feel good, and encourage your kids to do the same.
What we really need to do is start embracing our bodies.
The prevalence of disordered eating and Eating Disorders is scary. In fact, it’s the #1 killer among young women who have a mental health issue according to the DSM’s. The pressure to be thin is astronomical. It leads to chronic over-eating or under-eating, obsessions about food, and fear around food.
I post daily nutrition and weight management tips, resources and articles on my Facebook page for both adults and kids. Feel free to check it out!