Why Shame Is The Wrong Response To Your Unwanted Habits With Food

Let me take you back several years for a second…

So it’s 2008 and I’m living in Australia with my best friend. I have a major Binge Eating problem. I literally cannot control myself around sugar or carbs and I get these insane cravings every week where if I don’t run to the corner store down the street and buy Kit Kat, Tim Tams, Pringles, pretzels and ice cream I feel like a caged animal. The urges are powerful like a force that hits me that I can’t ignore, even if I tried. I’ve actually been getting these urges for a few years but I have no name for them and to me, it only seems like I can’t control myself around food and everyone else in the world can. In fact any time I see someone walking around licking an ice cream cone I stare in jealousy. Why can’t I be like them I think? Why can’t I just walk in to the ice cream shop and pick out a couple of flavors and eat it carelessly with my friends. It feels so unfair like I’ve been cursed or something. I don’t ever talk about it out loud because I’m so super ashamed that I’ve picked food out of garbage cans when I told myself I was done for the night and I keep going back to this embarrassing image where my then boyfriend leaves the house for work and I rummage through his cabinets looking to fill my mouth with what-the-eff-ever. God, the shame I felt was monstrous.

Anyways, I’m walking down the street towards home one day and what do you know, I bump in to my best friend who catches me eating chocolate frantically and I think this must be so weird for her! She only sees me eating healthy food and my face turns red and thank goodness it’s dark outside so she can’t see my shame. I’m dead embarrassed. I’ve been caught! The shame told me that anyways. But guess what happened in that moment? She looked at me with the most loving eyes and said, babe if you’re going to binge can I be there with you? Can you tell me when you’re about to do it? Can you do it in front of me? And you know, something changed inside me that day. I didn’t feel as alone with my mean thoughts about food and for the rest of our trip her non judgment helped me judge myself a little less around my abnormal behaviors with food and honestly because I judged myself less and I could binge around her the binges were less severe. it was like Binge Eating wanted to keep me isolated and it only allowed it to be about me and the behavior. I felt so alone, and sick and suffered a great deal but once I exposed it more and more over the years it truly had less power over me. Today It HAS NONE.  Here is why I share this story!

Shame is a B!@#$%^&*( in conjunction with imperfect behaviors around food. I think because of the media we have been trained to believe that we must have perfect habits with food and when we can’t live up to those standards because hello! No one can, we shame ourselves, we beat ourselves up, we tell ourselves we have no willpower and we call ourselves losers. And you know what those thoughts do mixed in with food? OMG they make it so so much worse. They make us eat in a way that is SO SELF SABOTAGING because if no one knows and cares about us these behaviors have the power over us. They dictate what goes. They are the boss of you. It’s like we are left with the inner critic and it goes wild. It’s like having an abusive boyfriend with no community or friends that actually care about you and have your back.

So: 

A) Notice when shame comes up for you around food. Tell it to get away!!! And forgive yourself immediately even if you had some wild crazy binge the night before. You are not a loser. You are not someone with no willpower. You are not weak. You have just been part of a diet scam!

B) If you are struggling with food in any way, Start by telling a friends. Tell your mom, tell you dad or tell anyone. Try not to keep it a secret. You do not have to be embarrassed about doing this. This will lessen the behavior a whole lot because all of the sudden it’s not so fun anymore when you’re not left to your own devices. Your inner critic doesn’t like when other people are around. 


Soshy Adelstein