This is a love letter.
This is a love letter dedicated to all the incredible humans out there who are struggling with disordered eating and body image during the holiday season.
Because while holidays like Thanksgiving are centered around family and friends, they're also centered around food, and that can be incredibly anxiety-inducing for those who struggle with their eating habits.
Especially since, there are still a lot of people caught in the diet-loop who use Thanksgiving as a sort of "last blast," shall we say? And eat past the point of fullness and comfort, and then turn the conversation to the new diet they're going to start and the weight they're finally going to lose come the new year. By the end of many holiday meals, there's a full Mean Girls movie moment happening, with everyone piping in to say what they hate about their bodies, while sadly eating their dessert.
It's miserable, isn't it?
If this sounds like you, I want you to know this: you are not alone. It is hard to let go of diet mentality. Even when we know it's not helpful, there's this pervasive exceptionalism surrounding it, as in, "diets don't work for anyone, and no one should have to suffer through another fad...except I feel like I could probably do well with Keto, just for a little bit." We're being held in this pattern by our inner bully, who is pretending she has our best interest at heart. It's confusing, and disheartening, and there's such an emphasis on success vs failure, and we really want to succeed.
The sad truth is, though, in the world of diets? There is no winner. Even those who "win," are losing something. And that something is big.
One of my least favorite food adages, right up there with, "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," (gag me) Is, "food is fuel." Um...WRONG! I mean, sure, in the technical sense, yeah, eating does help fuel your body. It gives you the nutrients you need to survive. But, COME ON! Your grandma's amazing apple pie is not just fuel. Your dad's perfectly cooked turkey is not fuel. Your aunt's homemade spinach artichoke dip that doesn't fit in with the rest of the meal at all but is always the biggest highlight is not just fuel. They're edible memories. And diet culture is telling us that we're supposed to ignore their specialness and not participate.
Well, um, pardon my French, but that's bullshit.
And more than that? It's not sustainable.
The amount of research that has been done proving that diet culture only increases the chances of bingeing is staggering. And, yet, we keep going back, because while diets don't seem to work, the true mission of the approximately $72 BILLION dollar diet industry does: Keep people hating themselves so that they keep coming back.
So, I want you to know, that even if you're staring at your gorgeous, perfect, amazing body in the mirror, and not seeing how absolutely glorious it is? There is at least one person who knows that you are 1000% wrong.
Even if we've never met. Even if we have met and I haven't seen you in years. As the line in everyone's favorite problematic holiday movie, Love Actually goes, to me, you are perfect.
So, this year, even with all the weirdness, if your inner diet bully rears their ugly head during your holidays, remember that they're a gross, nasty, diet monster, and that a REAL PERSON wrote you this love letter to tell you how beautiful you are.
I want to the leave you with this poem I love by Savannah Brown. It's a piece I love, and I come back to it often.
WHAT GUYS LOOK FOR IN GIRLS
When I first learned that no one could ever love me more than me
a world of happiness previously unseen was discovered
because somewhere along the line of aging and scrutiny and time
I was taught to despise myself
but I made sure I kept myself beautiful so someone would love me someday
so I could belong to someone someday
because that's the most important thing a little girl could ever want, right?
I was thirteen the first time I was embarrassed about my body
of course it would not be the last
and I remember tears stinging my eyes
hoping, praying to something that I could look beautiful enough today, braces and all, for the
who mercilessly told me I was worthless
and I would go home and put on a sweatshirt with my eyes closed,
deny myself the right to be shown myself,
because I didn't dare want to insinuate beauty
in regards to something so insulting as my body.
But I mean we all end up with our heads between our knees
because the only place we'll ever truly feel safe
is curled up inside skin we've been taught to hate
by a society that shuns our awful confidence and feeds us our own flaws
and sometimes when I need to meet the me that loves me, I can't find her,
a reminder that the mirror is meant to be a curse so I confine her to my mind
but when she shouts let me out
we're allowed to listen.
But it's met by a chorus of conceited
but since when was self-solitude a sin?
since when was loving who we are made an offense by morons that don't matter
change this physicality and that one, don't you shatter the illusion you could ever
be anything beyond paper fine flesh and flashy teeth and fingernails
echoic accusations of not good enough, never good enough
have you ever felt so numb that it hurts?
you can't surrender to them
you gotta remember you're the only thing you'll ever truly have
and no I don't mean your body because someday it'll go bad no matter what you do
I mean you
I mean the way your bright eyes go wild when you smile
and how your laughter's so melodic it's a song
I mean the way your creativity's a compass that leads you to what you love
and you don't need any miracle cream to keep your passions smooth, hair free
or diet pills to slim your kindness down
and when you start to drown in these petty expectations
you better examine the miracle of your existence
because you're worth so much more than your waistline
you're worth the beautiful thoughts you think
and the daring dreams you dream, undone and drunk off alcohol of being
but sometimes we forget that
because we live in a world where the media pulls us from the womb
and teaches us our first words
skinny pretty skinny pretty
girls soft quiet pretty
boys manly muscles pretty
but I don't care whether it's your gender, your looks, your weight, your skin, or where your love lies
none of that matters because standards don't define you
you don't live to meet credentials established by a madman
you're a goddamn treasure whether you wanna believe it or not
and maybe that's what everyone should start looking for.
I hope that this poem spoke to you.
And now...a chicken & waffle recipe ;)
Cinnamon Sugar Chicken & Waffles
1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes
1 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
4 (4oz) raw chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp honey
4 whole-grain waffles, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper; coat lightly with spray. Set aside.
3. Place cereal, sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and salt in a food processor; pulse until cereal is finely crushed. Transfer to shallow bowl.
4. Crack egg into another shallow bowl; lightly beat.
5. Dip chicken, one piece at a time, into egg then press into cereal mixture to coat all sides. Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake chicken for 18 minutes, until crisp and golden.
7. While chicken bakes, combine yogurt, honey, and remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl; mix well.
8. Serve each piece of chicken on a waffle; top with 2 Tbsp. yogurt mixture.
ps. Don't forget to subscribe so you can have body positive goodness delivered straight to your inbox