Last week I stumbled upon someone’s blog about “fat triggers” and weight loss… I couldn’t help it — I looked inside. I wanted to know what kind of hocus-pocus she was trying to sell.
So I took her “30 second quiz” to see how messed up she thought my relationship with food was — and I was shocked at what came up.
The rest of this post contains my rant against Diet Culture. While I agree that good nutrition is good self-care, there’s also a fine line where you get to decide what self-care through food looks like for you.
Self-Care Through Food Looks Different for Everyone
Ok, back to the “fat triggers quiz.”
The first question asked me what I would do if I walked by a pizza shop after a grueling day of work:
- Would I get something and eat it before going home?
- Would I get something to-go?
- Or would I skip it because “eating pizza under stress is never a good thing”?
(Oh, and let’s gloss over the fact that she calls these “fat triggers” — just for the sake of sparing my little fingers even more rant-y typing.)
The whole thing wreaked of misinformation. It made me sad.
Because you can stop by a pizza shop after a grueling day of work and have a piece of pizza and have that be the best form of self-care ever — essspecially if you enjoy pizza.
The goal is always to do the compassionate thing.
What’s Healthy vs. What’s Self-Caring
You can “eat pizza under stress” and let that be soothing, especially if you are doing so when you are hungry and you stop when you’re full. Because y’know what triggers stress on top of stress?
Being hungry and staying hungry and depriving yourself of foods that you enjoy is a great way to add even more stress to your day — and set yourself up for binge eating later at night. (When maybe you’d eat an entire pizza instead of just a slice.)
But what if “stress eating” isn’t soothing? Doesn’t that make it bad to scarf something down? Where do we draw the line with self-care through food?
In my opinion, it could still be a good thing. It really just depends.
Sure, eating slowly helps us notice fullness when it happens. Mindful eating is great. But when I hear the words “grueling day of work” I think my appetite must be monstrous, and so eating slowly or quickly doesn’t really matter when your body needs food and needs it now.
Self-Care Is Unique
Personally, I answered with “I would get something and eat it before going home.”
I chose this answer because one of my personal psychological blocks to overeating was “eating for the hunger to come.”
I used to overeat in preparation for something that I knew would keep me away from food for too long, because I really hate the feeling of being really hungry.
For me, it feels like self-care to allow myself to eat a piece of pizza when I’m hungry after a hard day’s work, without forcing myself to skip it or take it home to enjoy with family. But you might choose differently, and it could be totally right!
Everyone is different.
Let Food be Soothing
Someone else can answer “I’d get something to-go” and that could be their best choice.
Perhaps they really enjoy eating with their significant other, and nothing would ease their stressful day more than sitting down with their lover over pizza.
Knowing this comforting meal is around the corner might soothe the nerves. It’s kind of like taking hedonic eating and making it a good thing.
And finally, some people can choose to skip the pizza because it won’t sit right, and that can be their highest form of self-care.
Some people feel like icky gross blobs when they eat pizza. And by choosing to skip the pizza, it could feel like self-care if that’s truly what makes you feel less stressed.
This “healthy vs. self-care” can be a grey area, so how can you tell when you’re depriving yourself or caring for yourself?
The answer is actually really simple:
Deprivation Is the Opposite of Self-Care
When you’re depriving yourself, you feel deprived.
And when you’re caring for yourself, you feel satisfied.
Not guilty or ashamed, but satisfied.
I think all the answers from that woman’s ridiculous “fat triggers” quiz should be right for different people at different times.
Human beings fluctuate like crazy. We need and respond to different things for different reasons and different times. There is no one-choice-is-healthy-for-all answer.
Sometimes pizza is the right thing to do.
Did this strike a chord with you? Leave me a comment below! And also, you’ll love my free ebook below — it contains content just like this, but better.
Thea Hunter says
I am so happy I stumbled upon you! I’ve been reading your posts and even started writing my feelings about my relationship with my fat and what good I’m getting from it. I’m a people pleaser type and I realized that after writing it all down. Not positive how to navigate but I’m going to keep trying, I have a B.A. in Health and Wellness which tickles me because I have more hang ups than a telemarketer! I struggle with the psychological aspect and really thought it was my will power. I practiced stop drop and feel last night and IT WORKED! Did I cry? Yes I did but I felt it and didn’t want to keep eating. I love your take on this and feel like it’s what might help me after decades of punishing myself. Thank you for being here and deciding to help and for figuring it out!!! Your so insightful and lovely and I think I’ll be able to help my son once I help myself. He began emotionally eating after being singled out for being too skinny. It embarrassed him and I’ve not known how to help. Just THANK YOU!!!
Kari Dahlgren says
Wooooow Thea I’m so amazed at your courage to try these concepts and fully embrace them!! It’s only working because you’re doing the work!! I am so so happy for you. Thank you for the kind words. I hope you continue to thrive on this journey. Keep in touch <3