Facebook Pixel

If I Eat the Cake, Won't It Make Me Fat?

By Expert Blogger
Rate This
eating-cake-will-make-me-fat Comstock Images/Thinkstock

“If I eat the cake, won’t it make me fat?” Her struggle played out palpably across her young face, and I found myself stirred with a mixture of empathy -- and sorrow.

“No, honey, the cake won’t make you fat. Just eat what you’re hungry for, let yourself enjoy it, and stop when you’re full ... when you are happy full.”

As a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, this concept is quite familiar to me, the conflict all-too-typical. It is not unusual to hear myself expressing throughout my therapeutic day this very sentiment to clients struggling to make peace with food.

But today, as I heard myself utter these words, I was not in my role as a psychologist. Instead, I was a mother, hosting my 7-year-old daughter’s birthday party. The young girl, embattled by the decision to allow herself to indulge in something as seemingly innocent as enjoying a piece of celebratory birthday cake, was not my client, she was my daughter’s second-grade best friend.

This moment, both poignant, yet typical, underscored the extent of the existing problem and painfully reminded me of the emotional -- and physical -- tsunami which likely lay ahead.

In a society where one half of adolescent girls (and one third of adolescent boys) currently engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors, from fasting to self-induced vomiting to smoking to curb their appetite, and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls report that they are afraid of becoming fat, the heartbreaking need to turn our attention to the catastrophic reality of ever-increasing eating disorders in younger and younger populations is imperative.

While the problem of obesity is a legitimate concern in both adult and child populations, we as medical and psychological providers, educators -- and parents -- need to recognize that dieting is not the answer to obesity -- nor is it a means to gain healthy self-esteem, confidence or happiness.

Conversely, dieting has the dangerous potential to create eating disorders and to backfire into an unintentional, albeit very real, life-long battle with weight.

Add a Comment1 Comments

The problem of low self esteem, eating disorders, and a need for an impossible physical perfection is even worse now than it was when I fell into disordered eating in the mid 1970's. I was crestfallen because I could no longer wear a size 9 boys' pants, having developed hips. I hated my hips. I now had to wear a tent-like women's size 1 pants. I was a gargantuanly obese 112 pounds. I started sticking my finger down my throat. I was 13 years old.
During my lifetime and thanks to the calorie-sparing metabolism that comes to me through my mother's side of the family plus hypothyroidism, I have yo-yo dieted myself over 300 pounds.
I eat far less than I did when I was younger. But at my age, the weight does not come off.
This insanity has to stop. These girls are setting themselves up for a lifetime of misery. Believe me, I know. And these days the hatred of larger people has become even more vehement than ever. This is a vile phenomenon. There are anti-bullying programs to stop the bullying of gay kids, which is absolutely appropriate. But the bullying of fat kids is condoned. There is an erroneous belief that the shame will force them to lose weight. It is more likely to push them to drinking, doing drugs, and possibly attempting suicide.
Yo yo dieting is terrible for a person's health. We have to stop throwing the word "fat" around as an insult. There should not be a "war on obesity," there should be a push for health at EVERY SIZE!

April 26, 2012 - 11:31am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.