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'Stop Dieting and Start Loving Yourself!'

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Shut up, and eat something. No, really. Do it. I swear, it's good for you.

Blasphemy? After all, we've barely emerged from the dawn of 2011 and shouldn't we all be going on a diet? Shouldn't we all be restricting our food so we can be, look and feel "skinny." Yawn.

Have a cupcake on Sunday and get back to me.

I assure I'm telling you this for a very good reason. Part of it is because I need to remind myself the very same thing, which is: most diets don't work.

This is one of the themes addressed in the new book -- just released by NorLightsPress -- which I co-wrote with eating disorder specialist Dr. Maria Rago. It's dubbed "Shut Up, Skinny Bitches (The Common Sense Guide To Following Your Hunger and Your Heart)."

The backstory: "Shut Up, Skinny Bitches" came into being after I wrote an article for O Magazine about one of Dr. Rago's unique treatment programs for her eating disorder patients. Dr. Rago took those with food issues and had them feed the homeless, thereby giving them a greater sense of the universal value of food. I loved the concept. After all, the minute you start "giving back," there's no time to really be overly self-involved (give up that is actually a good diet) with your "stuff." It frees you up. After the article was published, Dr. Rago and I decided to collaborate on a book, mostly because we were amazed by the amount of diet and health books out there -- and media and advertising images, that perpetuated one message: that you can only be happy if (or when) you become thin.

Dr. Rago and I felt that many other dieting books are, in essence, a manifesto for developing an eating and/or body image disorder. And so, we wanted to take a stand for anybody that has felt pressured to look or be a certain way, alter their size, or felt forced to severely restrict their food consumption -- especially to fit in obtain and happiness.

The goal was to help lead readers toward a more delicious new way of thinking about themselves and the food they consume. Mostly, we hope it would give people a chance to alter some of the internal laws set in place, the ones currently governing your every move when it comes to the size you think you should be, or the food you think you have to eat. (And dear Lord let's get this out of the way now: We're not encouraging people here to be a glutton. We dig you too much. We're for being healthy. Read on.)

"Stop dieting and start loving yourself!" we write in the book. "If you can't stomach one more day of being told you're too fat, then you're ready to try some delicious new brain candy. Skinny is not the cure! Thin is not in. There's nothing wrong with you! There never was."

That last part is significant. We live in a culture that bombards us with advertising images insisting that we must correct our flaws. We're part of a society that pressures us to believe that a certain body weight or size is the only acceptable weight or size. We can't all be skinny. Each of us has a different body, a different body type, different metabolisms. Most people who aren't skinny are actually healthy the size they are.

Some of the things our book addresses:
  • Why dieting doesn't work.
  • Food and emotions.
  • Tapping into/relearning your natural hunger and fullness cues. (Eat when you're hungry; stop when you're full. It's really that easy.)
  • Eating and body image disorders. (Chronic dieters and severe food restrictors set themselves up for one, or both. When you launch into a "diet" ... like eliminating most or all carbs from your eating regime, guess what? You're going to end up bingeing on them later. Fact: millions of people in America suffer from eating and body image disorders.)
  • Men who suffer from eating disorders or body image disorders.
  • The scale is not your God.
  • Moving from black and white/severe thinking to the middle ground. (Eating foods you cherish -- yes, even those "forbidden" ones -- in moderation can eliminate a binge fest.)
  • Understanding what healthy eating actually is. (Eating foods you really dig in moderation is key.)

There's more. (There's always more.) But for now, I'll leave you with this: In a day and age when we seem to all be on board to "self-improve" ourselves, I propose that one of the best ways to actually do that is to begin listening more to our (inner) self. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're full. If you have so much energy to restrict foods and jump through emotional hoops just to "look" a certain way, trust me, you have the willpower to get in touch with yourself enough to know when you're hungry, and not, and take responsibility for loving your body and yourself. You have it within you to get in touch with the underlying emotional factors that have habitually lead you to take certain action around food. (I have them/had them, too.)

Feeding ourselves is vital part of survival. Liking ourselves, loving ourselves, accepting ourselves, no matter what size your pants may be at the moment, is in our inherent nature whether you're "skinny" or not.

And anybody that tells you otherwise? Two words: Shut Up!

Follow "Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!" on Twitter @ suskinnybitches. Learn more about the book at shutupskinnybitches.info.