Treating The Wrong Problem With Ineffective Solutions That Make It Worse
Let’s pretend for a second that you just got shot. What happens? Blood starts pouring out, right? Now imagine if instead of calling 911, you grabbed a knife, made the hole bigger and then threw a band-aid on it. What do you suppose would happen? Maybe the band-aid would help for a hot second but it would eventually be drenched in blood, slip right off and you'd be left with an even bigger hole than you started with. Then what? Would you spend your entire life slicing more even bigger holes in the wound while looking for the perfect band-aid that would finally stop all the bleeding? What if you did? What if instead of going to surgery to get the wound repaired, you spent your entire life slicing bigger holes and trying a hundred different types of band-aids? And what if, the entire time, everyone around you sat around watching the blood pour out while shouting at you to make it stop. "You just need more willpower! Don't you know how toxic all that blood is? Stop being so lazy! Make it stop! Why can't you just get some self-control and make the band-aid stick? You're such a failure! You're creating disease with all that blood, you know. You have to just work harder and be more diligent to make those band-aids stick if you ever want to be healthy and happy and live your best life." ...are just some of the types of things you hear from everyone around you, including doctors. And every where you look, everyone wants to sell you all kinds of different band-aids that promise the same thing -- but no matter how hard you try, none of them ever stick. And so you blame yourself. You start feeling ashamed and living in fear. You're always worried about what will happen if you can't get the band-aid to stick so the bleeding will stop. Imagine if we built an entire culture around a gun shot wound solution like that? An entire culture of people (doctors included) who gave prescriptions that made the problem worse while blaming and judging the victims for being shot? That’s exactly what we’ve been doing for generations with weight loss and healthy living advice. Damn near every person you talk to about weight, dieting or healthy eating can list off about a hundred different diets they've tried - and damn near every single one of them will tell you how great they felt doing it but how stupid they were because they couldn't stick to it. Damn near everyone says, "I've tried everything, but can't stick to anything. I don't know what's wrong with me" when the reality is, they haven't tried everything, they've just tried a hundred different versions of the same basic thing - and that thing actually makes the problem worse. Study after study after study proves that long term, rather than making people healthier, people who diet (try to eat according to someone else's idea of what they should be eating) are more likely to gain weight over time than those who don't. Now to be very clear, I don’t mean to suggest that gaining weight is a medical condition like a gun shot wound, or that it’s a mess we need to clean up. Not at ALL. The point is simply that we've spent generations trying to help our population get healthier or lose weight with "solutions" that are making things worse. The biggest reason so many people struggle with weight and food their whole lives is because we’ve built a multi-billion dollar health and wellness industry off of promoting fear and a culture that blames, shames and attempts to band-aid symptoms rather than address the cause. This the biggest reason so many people struggle with weight and food their whole lives -- because we’ve built a multi-billion dollar wellness industry off of promoting fear and culture that blames, shames and attempts to band-aid symptoms rather than address the cause. In the same way blood pouring out all over the floor is a symptom of the bullet hole, weight gain is a symptom – it has a direct or indirect cause - and everyone has been ignoring that. It’s not the problem, it’s the symptom. But that’s not how we’ve been treating it. We’ve been taught that: any and all weight gain is bad, it's a failure, caused by lack of discipline and needs to be “fixed” and you fix it with shame, blame, band-aids and willpower But neither is even a little bit true. A FAR more effective approach is to stop trying to force people to change food and instead change people. That is to say, rather than telling people they just have to be more diligent about the things they eat and trying to change what people eat by making them afraid of toxins and bad food and weight gain - we need to change people. We need to bring them home to their bodies. To teach them to tune into the wisdom of their own bodies with love. To love themselves and their bodies enough that the way they eat naturally, and effortlessly changes on its own. When "healthy living" feels like work, we're doing it ALL wrong. What we need, is a grand, large scale, world-wide shift in the way we’re looking at and addressing weight & food because until we stop feeding fear and trying to treat the symptoms and instead start addressing the cause, nothing is ever going to change on any perceivable level. In fact, it's likely just going to keep resulting in a population that just keeps getting less healthy. That's my mission. We've got to transform the unconscious forces that drive self-destructive choices in the first place. Some Common Examples The actual causes are often complicated, a little different for everyone and many people have more than one cause but like with our gun shot victim… the causes are never, EVER laziness and lack of willpower like we’ve been taught to believe. I’ve worked with many women who have a history of physical or sexual abuse - eating and carrying extra weight makes them feel safer. It’s sadly way too common. Are they to be blamed and shamed? How does a band-aid or instilling MORE fear of "toxins" and "bad food" help that? It doesn't. It makes it worse. I’ve worked with people whose self-worth is so damaged that they use food, overeating, bingeing, etc as self-punishment. I was one of them. And this is sadly far too common as well. How well do you suppose blame, shame & impossible to stick to food rules helps these people? As someone who lived that (it's unbelievably common, btw - like, shockingly so) so I can tell you first hand how - it makes it a thousand times worse. I’ve worked with people who eat to soothe and comfort difficult emotions, or to celebrate, or when they’re bored. Does telling them more about the supposed toxins in food, promoting more fear or blaming and shaming them for their size or the way they deal with their pain help them? How does introducing a band-aid to their world help? It doesn't. It makes it worse. I’ve worked with people who have been dieting for decades and years of dieting attempts has rewired their brain for feelings of scarcity around certain foods. You know that, "Oh well, I've been bad already and I can't have it anymore when I get back on track so may as well it all right now" thing that you do? That's what causes that. Fear and scarcity from dieting and food rules. How does continuing to diet, promote fear of "bad foods" or blame and shame help them? It doesn't. It makes it worse. I’ve worked with people who put weight on when they quit smoking or some other habit they’d had for years because that’s just how our brains work. They cannot just quit a habit once they’ve learned it, they need to learn new ones to override the old ones. Smoking gets replaced with eating more. So again, that’s all stuff our brains do unconsciously behind the scenes to drive our behavior without us even knowing. When it comes to weight loss specifically, I’ve worked with people who just don’t want to eat less badly enough to stay in a deficit consistently. This is currently me. I'm a size bigger than I was 2 years ago but I’m happy eating the way I’m eating, and feel good so should I be told non-stop that gaining weight is bad, feeling pressured to diet or blamed and shamed because I don’t have abs anymore? Frankly, I don't care because I do what's best for me and my body now and this is best for me right now but there are millions in the same boat. Outside of the pressure they feel from our very broken society to "be skinny", they're otherwise happy and feel good - but that pressure is suffocating for most people. It used to be for me. So they keep trying to throw on those band-aids to "fix" their non-existent problem rather than just enjoying life. See, this is the problem – while the world is busy celebrating all weight loss and demonizing all weight gain, and while the diet and nutrition industry is busy fighting over macros, and whose approach works the best or is the healthiest, nobody is addressing the causes – the WHY or what all the fear and fighting is doing to people. It is NOT helping our population as a whole, get healthier or happier and it's making things worse. WHY did the weight go on? Why do you make choices for your body that make you feel like garbage? What's going on in your brain that's driving the choices that got you to this place? Change that and learn to make choices from love and everything - I mean EVERYTHING - changes. We’ve been ignoring WHY the blood is pouring out. Getting this cause and effect wrong for so long has created a multi-billion dollar diet industry that just keeps growing at the expense of our mental and physical health. It’s making us heavier, super unhappy, less physically and mentally healthy, contributing to depression, anxiety, self-destructive behaviors and keeps most people trapped on the diet roller coaster for their entire lives. But if we turn it around – it we start actually getting the cause and effect right, it changes everything… It’s like hauling our gun shot wound victim into the ER for surgery rather than everyone throwing ineffective band-aids at him. It gives us a chance to diagnose the actual problem and determine if it’s even really a problem at all. For some other people, the underlying causes may be significant and negatively impacting their lives in a lot of different ways. But dieting or continuing to promote fear around food, doesn’t help ANY of them. It's making us less healthy and keeps us trapped in a lifelong diet cycle. All of that is to say, that's why you'll never hear me tell you what you should or shouldn't eat. You'll never hear me shit on gluten, or GMO's, or sugar, or whatever newest enemy the wellness industry has demonized this week. You'll never hear me list "super" foods or insist on "eating clean". Not any more. You don't need more fear and external information, you need more love and internal information. The only way to find that is to connect with yourself, and your body. You have to go inside. See, we can have a society that continues judging, shaming, blaming and ineffectively band-aiding symptoms while feeding a multi-billion dollar industry at our own expense or we can have health, happiness and freedom. The choice is ours, and is based entirely upon how we decide to continue to thinking about and attempting to manage weight gain. We have to leave the fear and instead, live from love and connection. If you're with me and in for the latter but unsure where to start -- start disconnecting and disengaging from and unfollowing anyone who talks about things like "toxins" and makes you feel afraid - of your body, of food, or in general - and there are a LOT of them. Even if you just start becoming more aware of the words your favorite health influencer is using around food and weight. Are they loving and encouraging you to get to know yourself and your body or are they full of scary words and warnings and rules you keep feeling like you're supposed to be following? Then start listening to your own body and getting in touch with your thoughts and emotions because I guarantee, those are driving 80% (or more) of your food choices. So, how did you feel after ate that thing you just ate? How do you WANT to feel? WHY did you eat that thing you just eat? Was it a loving choice? Or a fear based choice? No more fear. Just love and connection. If we ALL made this switch, we could create a population that's free from weight and food struggles and body hate, and actually lives healthier lives, in less than one generation. I know we could.
If you need help understanding your own whys and changing them so you start effortlessly eating in ways that make you feel better, I created Cognitive Eating to do exactly that! To learn more, click here.