The scale is one of the worst ways to feel good about yourself or to stop emotional eating. If you’re an emotional eater it can only give false confirmation of the negative thoughts or opinions you already have about yourself.
This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known. ― Marion Woodman
The facts about daily weighing and being an emotional eater
A study in 2015 which tracked participants over10 years showed that self-weighing is associated with increased weight concerns and depression. The study also showed a decrease in body satisfaction and self-esteem over the 10 years, especially for the women in the study.
If you’re an emotional eater, weighing yourself can be one of the most effective ways to feel really bad about yourself.
Daily weighing can lead to increased emotional eating rather than actually decreasing it.
Ironically a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ scale number can both trigger overeating—whether it’s a congratulatory eating party or a consolation party.
― Evelyn Tribole
A lot of people find the external verification of daily weighing is helpful in some respects. Some research has shown that it can be helpful. It showed that daily weighing with email support was helpful in weight loss. Another study by the same group in 2014, showed no ill psychological effects of daily weighing. If that’s the case and you don’t feel bad about yourself depending on the number or you’re not an emotional eater, this article probably doesn’t apply.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love data. I like to see the data for lots of things. It helps me to understand if the assumptions about a particular thing are actually true.
In terms of health behaviors, it helps to find out if what people say they do matches up with what they actually do. This gives me a better idea of how to be helpful.
But, when the data is bad, then it doesn’t help with anything. In fact, can have very serious consequences. One piece of “bad” data is the weight we give to the scale. It only gives you information about mass, not any information on the health of your body systems like heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, etc.
And yet, so many thoughts and feelings are assumed, usually negatively, from this one piece of data.
If you’re an emotional eater, the scale is not your friend!
In fact, there’s no real reason to weigh yourself. It can’t tell you anything about the nutrient density of the food you eat and its effect on your body. And it certainly doesn’t tell you anything positive about your relationship with your body especially when you’re an emotional eater.
Yet, these are all things that you might unconsciously hope that it would do. If the scale is down, you feel great about yourself. But when it’s up and especially if it’s a big number, your mood plummets, your drive for self-care fades and self-compassion is nowhere in sight.
If you break the habit of the scale you can become more engaged in a relationship with your body where you work together rather than rule over your body.
You will have the opportunity to get to know yourself in different ways like…
- What kind of movement energizes you.
- What kind of movement you enjoy.
- What type of food gives you the energy you need.
- What type of food feels good in your body.
- What type of attitude or thought process moves you toward your goals.
- What type of conversations you find fulfilling.
The list can go on and on. Mainly, when you are conscious of your internal needs, hopes and desires you have the ability to actually get what you want in life. And, this has nothing to do with the scale!
People always ask me, ‘You have so much confidence. Where did that come from?’ It came from me. One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl … It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it. ― Gabourey Sidibe
Move away from external validation and toward internal validation
If you want a better relationship with yourself you will need to turn away from external validation and turn toward trusting yourself. This is the way out of emotional eating, negative body image and low self-esteem and to change from being an emotional eater to a Conscious Eater.
External information can be helpful in some situations. Say, when your boss gives you feedback on a presentation. You need to know what worked, what didn’t work, if you said too many “um’s,” etc.
It could also be helpful to get feedback from a loved one or good friend about the outfit you plan to wear for the big presentation. This is helpful. It’s specific feedback about a specific situation.
The stereotypical question a woman asks her partner, “do I look fat in this” has become trite. There is never a good answer to this question. In fact, I don’t think this is a good question to ask!
The question is rarely about how you look, rather it’s a question of, “am I okay?” Which leads back to, if you’re more aware of the underlying need to be validated – consciously asking a question, what would the question be?
Maybe it would be something like…
- I’m nervous about meeting new people at the party.
- I’m not comfortable in this outfit.
- I don’t want to give this presentation.
- I need reassurance that it will be okay.
Becoming a Conscious Eater is the way out of superficial information about yourself and toward living in a more authentic relationship.
Ask yourself these questions and let your answer guide you to a better relationship with yourself and then you’ll stop being an emotional eater.
What do you want to receive from the scale?
If you really need the data from the scale for medication or some other medical reason, then can you let go of weighing yourself at home and only weigh in at your doctor’s office? Can you relieve yourself from this stress?
If there isn’t a medical reason to weigh yourself outside the doctor’s office, what do you think the scale will tell you?
That you’re healthy?
That you’re a good person?
That you’re attractive?
That you’re in control?
That you’re out of control?
Maybe you have other ways to assess how you’re doing. One of them is to pay closer attention to how you’re feeling in your body. If you started a new physical activity, you can use increased skill level, speed, feeling more comfortable, etc.
Maybe the shift in mindset gives you the opportunity to have a positive conversation with yourself. Part of getting out of emotional eating is bringing your emotions more fully into your awareness so you can use them in a way that supports yourself.
It’s really challenging to feel totally bad about yourself when you have a clearer picture of your life. There’s a point where it takes effort to make yourself feel bad, so you don’t do it anymore. This is when you’re further down the road of growth than you thought.
Why do you own a scale?
Most people say that they need it, “to check my weight.” But, if you gained or lost weight wouldn’t you know by the way your clothes fit? What if it’s really more about the validation you get from the scale. Literally, it provides data that you’re still here.
Is there something more meaningful that you could get than validation from work, volunteering, faith, friendship, etc. Do these areas give you a better sense of who you are as a human being?
Are there other ways to “measure” or assess if you’re getting what you need?
Your needs cannot be quantified by data.
You’re a person and you can’t say, “I only need 20 percent of love today” or “right now I need 100 percent compassion.” By living a conscious life and developing your Conscious Eating skills you will find that, when you’ve had a difficult day and you do need an abundance of compassion. You might also need a “reality check” from a trusted and kind person.
It’s not an all or nothing proposition.
Can the scale really give you all of that? I don’t believe it can. What I know is that a healthy relationship with yourself and those in your life can be a nest of love.
My final question is how much does the scale pull you out of living a conscious life and put you back squarely in a disconnected relationship with yourself – on of being an emotional eater?
You can become a Conscious Eater and live your life in a way that you take care of your needs, mind, body and heart.