Wholistic Food Therapy-To Weigh or Not to Weigh?

Diana J. Smith

It seems that weight talk is constantly a topic of conversation. So many people obsess about the latest fad diet, their weight, how to lose weight, how to keep the weight off, other peoples weight and so on and so on… Body image and self-esteem have become intensely intertwined with weight.

So many people have the belief that weight loss will bring happiness and confidence. They believe that being thinner is best and that thin equals health. This simply is not true. This is a myth often perpetuated by the media and even the medical community. People often feel judged no matter what their weight is and believe that others are judging their bodies no matter what size and shape they may be. Many others are comparing themselves to everyone all around them and feeling inadequate and unworthy as a result of this comparison. This is not good!

For so many their relationship with the scale is frustrating and complicated. It feels as though stepping onto the scale will reveal whether they have been “good” or “bad”, which in turn leads to feeling either good or bad emotionally and about themselves. This action of letting the scale deliver how you will feel gives the number on the scale a tremendous amount of power over you and your mood state and self-worth.

When you step on a scale, will you feel happy because the number is lower or closer to what you think you want it to be? When you step on a scale will you feel angry, disappointed or shameful because the number is higher or climbing away from what you believe is an acceptable number to see? If the scale creates anxiety, tension, anger, stress, fear or shame it may be time to change your relationship with the scale—it may be time to break up with your scale.

Many of those I work with have a very complicated relationship with the scale and nearly all say that weighing themselves is a dreaded experience that provokes anxiety. Giving the scale this power over you robs you of your joy and can have a lasting impact all throughout the day on how you feel about yourself. The scale can also create a false sense of happiness and when you place your worth into a number on the scale, either way, you’re giving your power away to the scale.

So many feel confused about whether or not to use a scale as a tool in their journey of healing their relationship with food. I try to encourage everyone to make the choice that is best for them and serves their goals and allows them to feel empowered. There is no one right answer to the question of whether to weigh or not to weigh?

If you do choose to weigh yourself, these are some questions to consider before stepping a foot onto the scale:

-Will I be disappointed if the number is higher than the last time I stepped onto the scale?

-Can I view the number in a nonjudgmental way, not as a good number or a bad number, just information?

-Can I tell myself that I am worthy no matter what the number is on the scale?

-Can I feel deserving of eating and nourishing my body if the number is higher than I anticipated or hoped for?

-Can I use a self-affirming statement to remind myself that my worth is far greater than any number on the scale?

If you choose to step on the scale, it will be helpful if you can use the concept of nonjudgment within the process. When you engage with the number on the scale nonjudgmentally, the number is not good or bad, it’s just a number. The number does not represent if you are good or bad, it’s just a number. The number does not reflect your worth, it’s just a number. If you can approach the process with this nonjudgmental awareness and feel that the number is just information that can simply inform your process, then by all means, step on the scale. If you can’t, don’t.

If you feel you cannot answer the above questions affirmatively and that you will indeed judge yourself or feel less worthy based on the number, or if you will choose not to feed yourself, or binge because of the frustration, then it will not serve in your healing process to step on the scale.

The scale often represents emotional residue from diet culture where the only goal you have is to lose weight. This becomes so deeply entrenched with self-worth that if the number does not change or goes up it means that you have been “bad” or “cheating” on your diet. If the number goes down you have been being “good” and are celebrated. If you can untangle your relationship with your past dieting and empower yourself to eat in a way that serves your body and satisfies your mind and body, the number will begin to have less control over you. The more you ease away from dieting and more into intuitive and mindful eating, the less you will allow or rely on the scale to determine your worth and happiness.

I’d recommend that you do break up with your scale, committing to do so for just one month. During this month you can see what mental and emotional impact that it may have on you to not weigh yourself AT ALL.

Be curious about how it feels to leave the scale behind for a bit and notice if it frees up space in your mind. Be curious to see if it allows you to feel more empowered and in control, or if it leaves you feeling helpless and out of control. Just notice, be aware and allow this time away from obsessing about a number inform the way you interact with and use a scale going forward.

Once some people try this exercise of breaking up with the scale for a month, they choose to get rid of the scale for good (woo hoo!) Others find that they can begin to shift their relationship with it over time and experience their weight nonjudgmentally when they do step on the scale. Some find they are indeed able to use their weight as information in a nonemotional way. For some who choose to break up with their scale for good, they will ask their doctors and nurses to keep the number to themselves at the doctor’s office, they’d prefer not to know.

Wherever you are with your relationship with the scale is ok, and if you’d like that relationship to change, know that it can. You can feel empowered to make the choice you’d like to make when it comes to the question, to weigh or not to weigh?

No matter what you choose, know that you are worthy of feeling good and nourishing and caring for your body no matter what. You are worthy and deserve to speak to yourself, treat yourself and be treated by others with respect, kindness and compassion.

Your weight does not reflect or determine your worth. When you step into your worth and empower yourself to choose how to relate to a scale, even if that means breaking up with it for good, you will feel your worth expanding in a healthy, empowering and meaningful way.

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