We all have stories we tell ourselves about food to justify unhealthy eating habits, according to American eating disorder expert Jessica Setnick.
Setnick will be in Nelson Thursday offering a free workshop on what she likes to call food fairy tales.
“Food fairy tales are things we tell ourselves we need to change about our eating, but don’t,” she said.
These are the same fairy tales that, for a person with obsessive and destructive characteristics, will lead to an eating disorder, while for most others will just cause them the personal frustration of continuing a pattern of unhealthy eating.
“Pretty much everyone does the same things people with eating disorders do,” Setnick said, citing people who say they need to lose weight but continually self-sabotage, for example.
“I want to help people realize we all need help with our eating, even if it’s not dysfunctional enough to warrant hospitalization.”
Other fairy tales, she said, include feeling guilt for not eating everything on your plate or avoiding simple things like taking nutritional supplements like calcium.
“They come from experiences we’ve had in the past that don’t necessarily apply to present, but we still use the same story,” Setnick said.
She said her workshop will particularly benefit people who feel stuck in one of these patterns or parents who don’t want to pass on negative attitudes to their children.
She’ll offer practical solutions to break free from the fairy tales, for example by thinking of any change as an experiment rather than a long-term commitment.
“For some reason when we think about trying something for a day or two — rather than as something we’re going to do every day for the rest of our lives — it breaks down a lot of the emotional barriers,” she said. “I might just say, ‘I’m going to take calcium for a few days and see how I feel,’ and that would be enough to get me started in the right direction.”
Setnick believes culturally, people tend not to notice eating issues until they become very severe.
“I want to spread the word that you can get help for your eating issues before they get to that point,” she said.
Setnick’s free workshop on food fairy tales is offered at Nelson’s Selkirk College in Mary Hall at Tenth Street Campus on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.
White Setnick regularly offers workshops in the States, this is her first time bringing her work to Canada.