Shame about your weight actually makes it harder to come to achieve healthy weight loss. These tips loosen the grip of shame so you can feel good in body and mind — and settle on the weight that’s best for your body.
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The Full Story
Walk into any room of ordinary adults and ask how many people wish they could lose a little weight. At least half will likely raise their hands.
Imagine you asked how many are ashamed of their weight. Self-conscious? Angry at themselves for a stomach pooch or large thighs? How many do you think would raise their hands.
Now imagine you ask yourself. Do you raise your hand?
As renowned shame researcher Brené Brown has found, shame is a psychological epidemic. Caught up in our perceived flaws or failures, we become isolated in humiliation, fear, and blame. This pain contributes to a long list of sufferings, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more. Most of us see our weight as a terrible flaw.
The loop that happens with weight shame is both ironic and cruel. We attach shame to our weight, which leads to behaviors, such as overeating or undereating and isolation, to manage the pain, and that, in turn, can contribute to disordered eating. And that amps up the shame.
This is so painful! Believing we are flawed because of our weight becomes another obstacle to settling at a weight that’s right for us! And any diet for weight loss will likely fail when the shame takes over.
Healthy weight comes more easily as shame recedes. When you aren’t fighting against a layer of self-loathing, you have more energy to make the changes, particularly around eating whole plant-based foods, that help you lose weight easily and lose the weight for good.
Unplugging from shame can take a few steps, but it can most certainly be done.
FOOD, Part 1: Eat whole foods that improve your mood.
Over time, eating nutrient-deficient foods can tank our mood. That might include a foggy brain or lethargy. Some Harvard studies have linked nutrient-deficient diets to depression and anxiety, as well. If we are suspectible to shame, low mood makes us more vulnerable to it, and less likely to reach out for connection and support. (Another vicious shame loop!)
But plant-heavy and anti-inflammatory diets were found to be protective against depression. In fact, 90 percent of your serotonin receptors, which help maintain mood balance, is located in your gut! Improving gut health has a direct connection to improved mood.
As your mood rises, it is easier to sidestep the weight of shame and step off the pattern of yo-yo dieting.
FOOD, Part 2: Eat food that makes your body feel good.
By this, we mean whole food, plant-based food, which is proven to support healthy weight loss.
As you flood your body with nutrients, your body will respond. It will get well. The discomfort that builds a bridge to weight-related shame eases off — the bloating, gassiness, heaviness, greasy skin, constipation, and cravings.
At the same time, as you feel better, it’s possible that you may begin to lose weight. With healthy weight loss foods, especially whole food, plant-based food have been shown to lead to weight loss, especially when the diet reduces the number of choices you need to make every day.
It’s important to remember that it’s the overall improvement in health helps disengage the shame more than the weight loss alone. You can be underweight, for example, and still feel significant shame about your weight!
A healthy body and mind are less vulnerable to shame. In a body that feels good and strong, you are more resilient when the number of your weight falls, or rises, as your life unfolds. You are operating from a base of health. This is how to lose weight naturally.
MIND: Replace the shame-based scripts in your head
Once you free up some mental energy by eating whole plant-based foods, you can start to actively loosen the shame thoughts that run through your head.
Shame about weight often shows up in phrases that we tell ourselves over and over, often without realizing it. “Never” and “always” show up lot. Are any of these familiar?
I’ll never like my body.
I’ll always hate how I look.
I was just born ugly.
Nothing can change for me.
I’ll always be alone in this.
No one will ever want me.
Ouch! It hurts just to read those, doesn’t it?
Rather than let them play on and on, write a replacement for each of your repeating shame thoughts.
My body is capable of change.
I love my body, especially my [your favorite body part, even it’s your earlobes!].
I can reach out to people when I feel lonely in my body.
My body helps me live my life.
Right now, I am grateful that my body can do [name one thing!].
You don’t need to believe these new thoughts 100 percent. The practice is in noticing the shame statements and countering them before they can take root.
Finally, shame has a harder time controlling you when you are connected to a supportive, understanding community.
As Brené Brown writes, “The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.”
With mental practice, whole plant-based food, and support, the shame that keeps us hating our weight will begin to lift. You will begin to enjoy food, to eat when you’re hungry, to lose the weight, and to enjoy your life with greater emotional freedom.
- Shame about weight is extremely common.
- Healthy weight comes more easily when we are free from shame.
- Whole food plant-based eating helps you feel better in mind and body, which decreases the power of shame (and supports healthy weight). This is the food for healthy weight loss.
- You can consciously counter thoughts of shame with positive thoughts.
- Connection and community also improve resilience around weight shame.
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