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November 30, 2021

Retro post: a dietitian talks body image

Retro post: a dietitian talks body image

This post first appeared December 14, 2020.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

by Elizabeth Magee, LRD, RD

We don’t have a scale in our house. I actually don’t think I’ve ever owned a scale – other than the one my parents had growing up. I don’t love weighing myself. It never brings me joy. I usually TRY to eat good (most of the time) and I go by my clothes fitting. I generally always weigh the same – even if I’m ‘feeling’ like I’ve gained 10 lbs.

If I wanted to weigh myself, I just did it at the gym maybe once a week. We can get such an unhealthy relationship with the scale, so I’ve never really wanted one in the house because I think I’d obsess over it and just feel bad. I also have 3 young ladies (14, 9 and 6) in my house who I want to be strong women, unafraid of food, hunger and the scale. It's not often, but I’ll sometimes hear a negative comment from one of them about feeling fat, looking fat, or scared of getting fat. It breaks my heart and makes me angry. They’re too young to be thinking this way – and none of them have any reason to be thinking they are fat. I squash all these comments immediately, sometimes before they are done making the ridiculous statement.

I know these thoughts all too well. If they said the things I say to myself, I would feel so sad, and confused. And would wonder why they would be thinking such crazy and untrue things. They are perfect. Is weight all the matters? Is being skinny the key to happiness?

No. I know this.

But most days I find myself with a whole lot of negative self-talk. Whether its feeling fat, needing to workout, feeling guilt over not having time to workout or not pushing myself during a workout, maybe eating a few too many chips – who knows. It can ruin my mood; it can even ruin my day. Yet I know this is ridiculous. But sometimes my brain is powerful. Can I prevent these thoughts in the girls I’m raising? I hope so. I only want them to think positively about themselves and be okay with who they are…whatever that may be.

Ever rip through your closet like a crazed maniac trying to find the perfect outfit? Everything is uncomfortable, looked cuter in the store, makes you feel fat… me neither. I look great in everything! JUST KIDDING. It's my thought basically every time I get dressed. Does this make me look skinny?? I’ve had times I didn’t even want to leave the house for whatever or wherever I was going. Dramatic, but true.

It’s so easy to be down on ourselves. It's hard (for me) to think I look alright. I’m always wanting to look better, skinnier, have better hair.

I don’t expect anyone else to be perfect, so why am I putting that on myself? I would never say to one of my girls, “Wow, that looks better on your sister,” or “That really makes you look pudgy – go find something more flattering.”

Self-talk is powerful. It can break you or make you. I try to empower the girls in this house to love themselves for who they are. It's easy for me to say that to them, harder for me to tell myself those things.

It takes time. It's not an easy fix. I’m 39 and still working on all my negative thoughts. But I’m hoping these littles around me know they matter, they are loved, and they are enough just the way they are. I want them to believe that in their own heads.

I want them to be comfortable in their own skin. And I want them to be louder and better than the negative voices that are so easy to listen to.

Elizabeth Meyer is a registered licensed dietitian and loves chips and salsa! Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.

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