In A Fatphobic Society, Trusting Your Body's Cravings Is Sacred

In A Fatphobic Society, Trusting Your Body's Cravings Is Sacred

We are allowed to (and should) eat in a way that adheres to our bodies’ needs, no matter what size we are.
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I’ve had times when my body wanted pizza and McDonalds all day; I’ve had times when I almost cried over how good a taco salad was.

Our bodies want different things at different times, and that’s okay. Truly, food does not have moral value -- our body needs all of it! Like we say in Embody trainings, “an apple did not win the Nobel Peace Prize and a hamburger did not rob a bank.”

Believe me though, I know this is incredibly hard to drill in our minds, especially in a society that guilts us for eating certain foods. So many people say “I ate a salad today, I’m being so good" or "I ate three cookies, I’m doing so bad today.” Then comes along magazines and articles that tell us “when you want (insert “junk” food), you really just want (insert vegetable or nut), as well as days in a row when all we crave is “junk” food.

Remember this: different cravings mean we need different nutrients, and it’s okay if you choose the “fattier” option. We are not “good” or “bad” because of what we eat. We are not what we eat. We are also not, nor should we try to be, the food police for ourselves or others.

Food is fuel -- it’s simply something our bodies need so we can go be the fantastic friends, activists, students, family members, athletes and artists we are. This goes for our bodies as well -- they are simply a vessel for the love and hope we hold inside.

Also in Embody trainings, we love to share this quote by Ellyn Satter, a therapist and dietician:

“Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose the food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it -- not just stop eating because you think you should.

Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bord, or just because it feels good.

Normal eating is three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some more tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so good when they are fresh.

Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. (Though we don’t like the word choice “mistakes” as eating a certain food isn’t one.)

Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food."

Our bodies know what they need, so we should trust them. They will compensate for overeating and undereating. We don’t need some special juice cleanse -- that’s exactly what our livers are for!

Intuitive eating is incredibly hard. After struggling with food and body image, my hunger and satiety signals were messed up for some time, and I couldn’t tell if I was truly full or hungry or in between. I was scared to overeat; I was scared to undereat. But, to some degree, we all overeat and undereat sometimes -- and that’s normal.

Melissa Fabello is a great activist on this, and I love this post in which she reminds us that in the winter, our bodies need a little extra insulation to keep us warm. Craving and eating those fattier foods (remember, fat isn’t a bad word -- we need it to live!) is a natural, evolutionary part of the way our body works. It doesn’t mean we’re gluttonous or bad or lacking in self-control.

In another post, she reminds us that when we try to avoid our cravings or replace them with other foods, we end up just eating more food and eventually giving into the craving anyway. By listening to our body, we could’ve avoided a lot of superfluous behavior, guilt, and shame. In a sense, it really is just *that* easy.

With this conversation, we must also keep the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement in mind, realize what a fatphobic country we are, and think about how that affects people who live in bodies that take up more space. Some encourage eating disordered behavior in those people, feeling that somehow the behaviors aren’t disordered in them. Or, they don't allow those people to love and accept themselves. It’s sad, it’s harmful to recovery, and it stems from thin privilege.

My point in writing this is in hopes that we support ourselves and each other as people, not as food or as bodies. It's to remind us that it’s vital to listen to our body’s cravings. That our body will compensate and adjusts as it needs to, and that “normal eating” is actually a little different than you might think. We are not what we eat or how much we eat or how much space we take up.

We are allowed to (and should) eat in a way that adheres to our bodies' needs, no matter what size we are.

If you are struggling with disordered eating, you are not alone and help is out there for you! Feel free to check out www.nationaleatingdisorders.org for resources and information.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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