Bad Eating Habits High Blood Pressure


There are some hopeful signs showing that our society is becoming aware of the consequences of our obsession with and relentless pursuit of thinness and doing something about it. For example, in 2015 the French Parliament passed a law requiring working models to be above a certain body mass index (BMI) to prohibit modeling agencies from hiring dangerously thin models. The law also requires altered photographs of models to be clearly labeled. Under the law, models need a doctor’s certificate to certify they are fit to work, and employers could be jailed or fined 75,000 euros (about $85,000), if the rules are breached. In early 2016, a British clothing brand decided to require its models to eat a meal in the presence of company employees to ensure they were eating. Abercrombie & Fitch changed their clothing ads in response to a campaign started by one brave young girl with an eating disorder who decided to challenge the company’s use of skinny models in highly sexualized ads. Though not enormous changes amongst the current tide, these are encouraging steps showing that we can make a difference if we stand up, speak out, and make enough noise about something rather than remain complacent. We are beginning to see people in power waking up and paying attention to what is going on and making some much needed changes.


Most people with body image issues complain about them, try to get in shape or diet, but do not resort to physically and mentally destructive behaviors. A number on a scale does not make most people feel so worthless or desperate that they become self-destructive. Most people have limits about what they are willing to do to themselves to change their body, no matter how bad they feel about it. If you have an eating disorder, those limits are stretched way too far or maybe are not even there. An important part of getting and being well is developing limits you are unwilling to cross to fix or change your body.


To better understand and deal with your body image issues, it is helpful to break it down into three specific aspects:


What you see when you look directly at yourself or in a mirror.

Perception is more than just seeing because it is affected by context and circumstance, such as where you are, the people you are with, and to whom you are comparing yourself. For example, most people are more likely to perceive themselves as fat when comparing themselves to ballerinas than to people coming and going at an airport. Our human habit of comparing ourselves becomes exaggerated, and therefore even more problematic, in those with eating disorders.

Think About it

Do you compare yourself to all the people in the theater watching the movie, or the stars on the screen?

Do you compare yourself to all the other people taking an exercise class, or to the instructor?

Do you compare yourself to all the other people you know, or to the models you see in ads? Comparing yourself to unrealistic standards or to digitally altered images of people who do not really exist is fruitless and fraught with endless disappointment and problems.

Something interesting about perception, and this might be hard to believe, but body image dissatisfaction and body size are not correlated the way you might think they would be. If they were correlated, people with eating disorders who are underweight would have fewer body image problems, but they often have more. Usually, the thinner they become, the more afraid and convinced they are that they are fat or getting fat.


The meaning you attach to your perception of your body.

It is one thing to see your thighs as big or bigger than someone else’s, but quite another thing is what you make of what you see. A healthy person might think, My thighs are bigger, hmm I do not really like that. Oh well. Or (a personal favorite) My thighs look bigger. I think this is a bad mirror. But someone with an eating disorder is more likely to think, My thighs are so big, they are unacceptable, and nobody will love me, or My thighs are so big, I literally can’t live with them this way. These statements reflect the high degree to which your self-worth is attached to your body’s appearance, particularly weight. This way of thinking becomes very ingrained and difficult to change, but is worth the work. It is not your body itself, or even what you see, but rather the meaning and attitude toward yourself and your body, which cause you to feel and then act in certain ways. Being dissatisfied with your perception of your body (body image dissatisfaction) is a better predictor of eating attitudes, behaviors, and dieting pathology than all other risk factors such as selfesteem, depression, and social anxiety combined.


Your perception and attitude fuel your behaviors.

Behaviors like restricting, purging, or burning off calories can achieve weight loss, initially alleviating body image distress. However, when these seemingly helpful behaviors develop into an eating disorder, you end up with more problems than you temporarily solved.

Changing your behavior is critical, but it is also important to deal with your perception and attitude, or you will likely return to old behaviors. There are many things you can do, such as: actively working to stop comparing yourself, learning to accept your natural, healthy size and shape, and having realistic expectations. When you truly accept that hurting your body to make it look a certain way will not make you happy or get you what you really want, eating disorder behaviors are no longer as alluring. You know deep down that they aren’t working .

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