Ah, that famous Kate Moss quote, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
Well, it’s TOTAL BULLSHIT.
A LOT of things taste as good as thin feels, and better. (hellooooo bacon) This is how I know my new Weight Watchers leader is the one for me – she feels the same way. She even threw in the same “bullshit.” SOULMATES.
The thing is, when you have food issues, mantras like Ms. Moss’s ode to anorexic chain smokers do nothing but make us feel out of control, guilty and fatter than ever. The gorgeous supermodel is telling me I shouldn’t be enjoying this slice of cheesecake more than being a size six (or four, or two). WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!?! Nothing – you enjoy food. How else do you think you ended up overweight, and Moss ended up an underweight poster child of the size zero revolution?
Yet we see this phrase pop up in different iterations, over and over again. Celebrity loses 80 pounds. NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS BEING IN SHAPE FEELS! You’re feeling discouraged after binge-eating Indian curry and naan/ice cream/burger & fries, etc., and someone “helpfully” intones: NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS THIN FEELS (this one makes you want to gorge your eyes out with a spork from guilt). Fitness guru tries to inspire you to work harder (whether in real life on on reality TV *coughbiggestloser*). NO FOOD IS WORTH WHAT IT FEELS TO BE THIN.
The people saying this can’t possibly have ever been an overweight food obsessive. We fat people (and formerly fat people!) know. We commiserate with each other over how FREAKING GOOD some things taste. They tempt us. Lure us in. Make us lose control. Leave us with equal parts intense guilt and glib satisfaction after the fact. The “Others” think that fat people are lazy and weak, ugly labels that makes us even less apt to admit that we are out of control when it comes to food. We embrace guilt-making mantras like Moss’ and in turn feel really bad about ourselves when we, inevitably, give in.
I say, let’s embrace our dark side and shout, loudly: SOME THINGS TASTE WAY BETTER THAN SKINNY FEELS. Let’s put it out there, and let people know what they’re missing! Is it totally embarrassing that we let food control us? Yes. But the longer you stay in denial about the power — and allure — food holds over you, the longer you’ll stay fat and/or on a perpetual diet and/or end up THIN but completely miserable.
This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of weight loss transformation for many of us — admitting that you are out of control of your situation, and that the sheer will power everyone expects you to have over yourself and food because — look! they do! — doesn’t exist. We like to pretend it does, and can often manage it for long periods of time, or in certain challenging situations. But the second there’s a set-back — a midnight cupcake binge, a Superbowl chicken wing extravaganza, skipping the gym for weeks or months at a time — we chastise ourselves, bemoan our lack of SHEER WILL POWER! and feel like failures. Then we emotionally eat our unhappiness, most often with NON-TASTY but convenient food, which makes us feel even worse. The dark cycle of fat begins a new, diet abandoned.
One of the biggest challenges — and breakthroughs — for me was to STOP FEELING GUILTY ABOUT EATING. Yes, I have will power to a certain extent, but the moments where it fails me doesn’t make me a failure. A certain self-awareness about eating is necessary – you can’t let yourself off the hook indulging all the time. But in the “everything in moderation” moments where you indulge and — God forbid! – actually enjoy the taste of something MORE THAN YOU WANT TO BE THIN — if you guilt trip yourself? It becomes a negative-feedback loop of doom. Trying to police yourself on eating culminates in your eating more than you ever would if you had a healthier, less-guilty attitude towards food. It’s difficult to accept. It seems so wrong. Counter-intuitive. What do you mean, I shouldn’t feel guilty about eating ice cream? Ice cream is… bad.
Reprogram yourself. Eating ice cream is not bad. Eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting? Yeah, that’s probably bad (but even that you should be able to let go of, in time). But if you let go of the guilt of eating a normal serving, heck – maybe even TWO, of your favorite, super delicious “better than thin feels” ice cream and then actually eat that – normal serving size – on a regular basis, you may find your overwhelming, emotional need to devour an entire carton diminishes.
Then again, you also have to know yourself, and realize we don’t have an automatic reset button. You’re not going to go from being a Ben & Jerry’s pint-devouring monster to daintily eating four spoonfuls overnight. Sometimes you need to completely go cold turkey on a “red light” item/trigger food whilst you reprogram your guilt feelings away from the food. It works differently for everyone, but the fact remains: guilt over eating usually leads to MORE EATING.
Most importantly, once you admit to yourself that, dammit, some food IS worth it, it becomes easier to define how much food is NOT worth it. All food is not created equal, and the guilt complex that is foisted upon the unhappy fats for eating leads to this reverse landslide where you consume any and all food, desperately, because you’re bad anyway, so who cares what it tastes like? Though it may feel counter-intuitive, trust me on this: admit that you like eating some things more than the illustrious idea of being thin, deal with it, and then begin the long and arduous journey to dropping your food guilt. We may never approach food “normally,” but we sure as hell can approach it with less guilt.