Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Impact Of Social Praise by Candice Sand



Hey there, this is Dr. Nina writing to introduce you to my amazing guest blogger, singer-songwriter Candice Sand.  As a mom of two daughters, I've noticed that they are constantly complimented on their appearance.  I tell my girls, "It's nice to be beautiful, but what really matters is that you're smart, kind and thoughtful."

Friends with sons don't share my experience.  Their boys are told things like, "Good job, buddy."  "Way to throw the ball, big guy."  

Girls are praised for their appearance.  Boys are praised for their accomplishments.

How does this impact eating disorders?  Candice shares her thoughts about  how compliments and social praise influenced the development of her eating disorder.   She leaves us with some "food for thought" about the legacy and implications of seemingly-innocuous praise.

Take it away, Candice!


The Impact Of Social Praise
by Candice Sand

The first thing that crossed my mind when I was asked to be a guest writer for Dr. Nina’s blog was that in the many times I've discussed my eating disorder, in interviews, articles or in private conversations, the focus was usually around the process of recovery.

The circumstances that caused and continually fuelled my eating disorder were rarely brought up. Every individual’s triggers and motivations can differ greatly but in an effort to address something new, and which I believe is critically important, I've decided to share one of the conclusions I’ve drawn (after a lot of reflection with my former and trusted psychologist) in what I believe kept my eating disorder alive for 15 years.

I know now that it was all around me my entire life. Constant messages being delivered to me about what my body “should” look like. It wasn’t just media and magazines filling my head with images, although that was a solid foundation for my eating disorder to be built upon.

A major factor in developing and keeping my eating disorder thriving was consistent social reinforcement that I should strive to be thin.

This reinforcement came from the majority of people around me: everyone from classmates to a number of adults and role models in my life. Growing up I had a sneaking suspicion that the popular girls in school were popular because they were skinny. Fed up with being pudgy, somewhat friendless, and the target of weight related taunting I decided to test that theory by becoming bulimic during summer break when I was 12 years old.

I returned to school that fall 25 pounds lighter (and significantly taller thanks to a well-timed growth spurt) and when everyone suddenly wanted to be my friend my suspicion was proven true.

Skinny meant popular and popular girls had it all. All the friends, fun and attention from boys.

Skinny meant a better, easier life. Moving forward from this point, my memory is marked with certain moments when I received direct praise for my size, all the while I was essentially starving myself.

That same fall after I first became bulimic, a teacher stopped me in the hall to say “you really stretched out this summer, you look great!” Years later, while working a retail job during which I suffered through a brutal crash diet my district supervisor remarked on how tiny I was, and asserted “if you keep looking like that you can have anything you want in this world.”

Fast forward a few more years to a serving job I had when I first moved to Toronto. I was on my strictest diet, barely eating and working out six days a week. I was becoming dangerously underweight when one day my manager complimented me: “Have you lost weight? You look amazing!”

Each time the only thoughts I can remember having were “it’s working, keep going.” There are countless examples and much more that I could comment on. For instance, the way women learn they should want to be wanted by men and how that also feeds into the incessant striving for the body ideal.

I could talk about how I fell into commercial modelling and how I can say with complete honesty that the skinnier I was, the more jobs I booked. The truth is, all the while I knew I was hurting myself and that hiding my habits was a clear indication that what I was doing was harmful.

However at the same time, the skinnier I was the more social praise I received.

I’m not writing this to place blame or dodge responsibility for my choices and actions. I’m writing this to share what I honestly believed the world was telling me: that my size really did matter, and that I should want to be attractive and the only way to be attractive is to be skinny.

There is so much emphasis on how we look and it is so common that we rarely see how very dangerous and all consuming that focus can be. I hope I can bring some awareness to the impact that focus can have, and more importantly I hope for a day where in our everyday interactions with family, friends and even strangers, we can reach for something deeper than each others appearance to strike up conversations with or compliment each other on.

To read Candice’s true story of recovery, go to www.nedic.ca/CandiceSand


ABOUT CANDICE:   
Pop recording artist and songwriter Candice Sand is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada but is now based out of Toronto. Her music has been praised for it’s intriguing lyrics, infectious hooks, and her powerful vocal performance.

Candice’s most recent album (“Against Concrete Walls”) was co-written and produced by the Grammy nominated & Juno award winning production team Kuya Productions INC. The album also features guest performances by Juno award winning multi-platinum artists JRDN and Choclair.

In Sept 2017, she released her latest single “Closed Doors” which was written from Candice’s personal experience of overcoming an eating disorder she struggled with for most of her life.  The single also appears in the documentary series “Something’s Gotta Give”, which aims to raise awareness about eating disorders and promote recovery.  Candice is also interviewed in the documentary.

As she works in the studio on her new project, Candice stays active as a performer throughout Canada and the US. To date, she has completed 3 tours which took her across Canada and currently, she takes the stage for 100+ performances annually.  

Stay tuned and watch out for this girl... so much more to come!

Listen to “CLOSED DOORS” here:
Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2fogwZm

Connect with Candice:




Friday, March 16, 2018

The Truth About Comfort Food










The TRUTH About Comfort Food

Comfort food is actually about the need or the wish to be comforted by another person.  If nobody is available to provide comfort, or if the people in your life are not able to respond in a way that feels good, that’s painful.  The good news is that you can learn to give yourself what you need to feel better.

If you’re turning to food for comfort, the primary challenge is learning to respond to yourself with language instead of action (eating).

If you turn away from food as a way of feeling better, you’ve learned to respond to your needs by ignoring, denying or judging them.  It’s humiliating to have unmet needs, and you may have turned against your need for comfort as a way to feel powerful, turning passive to active. 

You cannot stuff down your feelings, nor can you starve them away or purge them.  Cultivating an ability to recognize, value and respond to yourself without bingeing, restricting or purging will help you overcome eating disorder behavior, no matter what your struggle with food.

Keep in mind the acronym VARY as a guide to providing comfort:

Validate:  Recognize that your feelings and thoughts are reactions to a particular situation, and you have an absolute right to feel the way you feel. 
For example:  I got passed over for a promotion at work and my co-worker got it instead. I feel hurt, unappreciated and upset.  Of course I feel that way.  How else could I feel given, this situation? 

Acknowledge:  Accept the existence and truth of what you’re feeling.
This is a painful, upsetting, and humiliation situation. I also realize that some of my sibling issues might have gotten stirred up, since my brother was always getting special treatment.

Reassure:  Encourage and inspire yourself by remembering that this situation will pass, and you will feel better.  Keep in mind past situations in which you were able to overcome difficulty.  You will this time, too!
I’ve overcome a lot of challenges in my life (recall them specifically) and I’m going to get past this, too.  I feel awful now, but I’m not going to be stuck in this horrible feeling.  I will feel better


Yourself!

When you are consistently respond to yourself in a supportive way, you feel better.  You may even feel good.  When that happens, you don’t use food to comfort, numb or distract yourself.  That’s how you make peace with food for good!   


Is food your best friend and your worst enemy?

Get your FREE guide:  25 Ways To Stop Stress Eating

Click here to get started on a path to making peace with food for good!