Tara Parker-Pope posted an article on the New York Times website yesterday called “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges.” I don’t read her stuff that often, but a co-worker alerted me to this post and I gotta say, I like it! It’s not new information to those of us in the FA movement, but it’s always awesome when mainstream media and press get it right. Or, mostly right.
Essentially, research shows that when we are nicer to ourselves, we enjoy less stress in our lives and pay more attention to what our bodies actually want in terms of food. What I don’t like is that the researchers Ms. Parker-Pope speaks with frame the narrative using weight-loss as the ultimate goal.
“Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan,” said Jean Fain, a psychotherapist and teaching associate at Harvard Medical School who wrote the new book “The Self-Compassion Diet” (Sounds True publishing). “Most plans revolve around self-discipline, deprivation and neglect.”
The problem with this line of thinking is that it seems to ignore the fact that self-compassion is important regardless of dieting, weight loss goals, etc. (though of course one has to frame it that way if one is hoping to sell a diet book). The ultimate goal need not be weight-loss, the ultimate goal should simply be loving yourself more. Of course, Ms. Fain is right in part. Self-compassion doesn’t currently exist in any diet plan that I’m aware of, but to me that’s not the point. Still, though, good to know folks recognize that diets fail for a variety of reasons, most notably (to me, anyway) because they are rooted in self-criticism and a call to “just have more willpower.”