Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is Being Too Nice Making You Fat?

“Is being too nice making you fat? Nurturing others means you aren't taking enough care of yourself.”

This is the beginning of an article from SELF magazine by Susan Cheever called, "Is Being Too Nice Making You Fat?"

Now, I am definitely not one to advocate being selfish, but I can tell you that taking care of as many people as I can in these times of the sandwich generation, can sometimes take a toll on me.
Ms. Cheever discusses the role of dieting and weight growing up as a child.  It was a very complicated concept, as I think it is for many young women (and sometimes men).
She writes about the dilemma that women face sometimes in needing to comfort themselves and using food to accomplish that.
“Then a friend said something wise: "If you want to know what you really care about, look around. Your actions tell the story." Clearly, although I believed I wanted to eat less, powerful subconscious forces were overriding my resolve. Some part of me needed to eat too much. Was there something about being overweight that I liked? How did it serve me?
Certainly, by the end of a day of catering to colleagues and family, I was sorely in need of comfort (in other words, food). I needed a way to put some distance between myself and the demanding world (again, food). Was there a connection between being too accommodating, between saying yes too quickly and unthinkingly, and feeling hungry? Maybe I was using food to dampen my anger and resentment at being taken advantage of. I was protecting myself with an extra layer of flesh. "It's about boundaries," Maine says. "Women often have a hard time maintaining them. You say yes to everyone else, so you can't say no to food.
I decided I would worry less about feeding other people emotionally and physically. I would start saying no. Or at least, I wouldn't say yes until I'd had time to think about what I wanted to do.”
I am not, and I do not believe Ms. Cheever is, suggesting in anyway to stop caring for those we love.  I think the issue is that we need to be mindful of why we are eating and make sure it’s not filling a need that should be dealt with in a different way.
I think it’s a great practice to ask yourself before you put a brownie in your mouth, for example, why you are eating it?  If you just feel like it and it tastes good and you feel no guilt afterwards, great.  If you are eating it because you are anxious or angry or upset, it’s not a bad idea to figure out if the brownie is the best solution.

Do not think that I have a perfect handle on this!  I don’t, but I think the 
SELF article is worth reading because the truth is that most of the time, dieting just scratches the surface.

The big stuff is underneath.