For decades, women have been comparing themselves to the women on the covers of magazines and consistently falling short of the ideal pictured there. From the curvaceous Marilyn Monroe to the stick thin Twiggy and all that have come afterwards, women have spent countless, frustrating hours trying to fit an impossible mold.
And these days it is worse. With photo editing programs, photographers and film editing teams add inches to bust-lines, take away inches from waistlines, spray out the occasional laugh line, and add and subtract color. Even though we know that the beauty we are comparing ourselves with is artificial, we do it anyway.
I am diet obsessed. This is no secret to those that know me well, although for those who know me as a food writer, it is often a shock. As an anorexic in my teens, I learned to manage my weight by a combination of strict dieting and other common techniques. I wasnâ€™t large, but I felt huge when I gained up to a size 6.
After 8 kids, I am a size 8 and it feels gigantic. I, like many others, am obsessed with what I eat and donâ€™t eat. I know in my head that it is ridiculous, but after 40 years of being concerned about my weight (the first ten years of my life were pretty free), it is so ingrained that it is habit.
I can instantly tell you the approximate number of carbs in almost anything. I wonâ€™t go into details but I can tell you that I eat less in a week than one of my adult sons eats in a day â€“ and I am not joking. And even though I know that low calorie intake messes with metabolism, eating more than xyz calories a day stresses me out.
I look at food as the enemy â€“ and with my foodie instinct it is definitely a love hate relationship. When I am working on a cookbook or developing a recipe I have a one bite rule. I can take only one bite of anything.
We are a nation of diet obsessed people. We drive to the gym so we can walk on an electric treadmill. We shun butter and whole milk while we eat tortilla chips washed down with diet soda.
Since the government dietary guidelines change every few years, we are constantly looking for the next thing, constantly changing our eating habits, and constantly cutting something out of our lists of food we can eat.
And it seems that no matter what we do, the average American is getting fatter while the models on the cover of fashion magazines are shrinking away to nothing but a pretty face, large bustline, and long legs.
Being diet obsessed is stressful and leads to compulsive behavior. Iâ€™d like to blame the magazines and other media, but I canâ€™t. We do it to ourselves when we allow ourselves to believe that our lives would be better if only______________.
Are you diet obsessed? Have you learned to overcome the negative behavior it causes?
photo credit: Davidd