I am continuing my discussions on how healthy eating and the media can contribute to eating disorders. Let me say that the media is not responsible for eating disorders, or that the media causes eating disorders. Rather our obsession with healthy eating and diet and exercise can cause you to develop some healthy thoughts about yourself.
A journey to health and weight loss is a wonderful one. I never want to discourage someone from getting healthy. Please do what you need to be the healthiest you can be. But when you become focused on dieting or weight loss you will start to develop thoughts. These thoughts can become distorted.
What is a distorted thought? Distorted thinking is a thought that is irrational, illogical, and not often helpful. There may be truth to the thought but the thought is not an absolute. For example, let’s say you are encouraged to eat a piece of cake. If you have an eating disorder and you are obsessed with weight you will likely have distorted thoughts that say “if you eat cake you are a fat pig”, “you are so unmotivated”, “you are a failure”, or “you are a terrible person”.
Eating cake all the time, for every meal may cause you to gain weight, but eating a piece of cake one time does not make you any of the things that you worry about. Distorted thoughts cause us to believe it is absolutely true.
Food is now either “good” or “bad” and when you eat a “bad” food your distorted thoughts convince you that you are a bad person. Well let’s put that in perspective for a moment. You are not always “unmotivated” or “unsuccessful”. In fact you are probably very motivated and success.
To challenge these distorted beliefs, write down all the ways you are successful, motivated, positive, and healthy. That list is the truth. Believe the evidence, not the random occasion.
* Stephanie Waitt, LPC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Sherman, Texas. Stephanie works with young and successful women to help restore balance and peace. She specializes in working with individuals with eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, and depression.