Years ago, during college, I was fortunate to spend a year living in Salzburg, Austria.
About this same time, I had just seen the 1995 remake of Sabrina with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear...the movie where Julia, as a young woman, is secretly in love with the guys, but they're way out of her league from a societal pecking order, so they don't even know she exists. Then she goes away to college in Europe and when she comes back she's this elegant, refined woman that's turning everyone's heads - including the guys.
Classic story! This was years before I realized what diet culture was or how manipulative it can be. So, of-course...
I internalized the idea that if my body changed as I studied abroad in Salzburg, then maybe I could turn guy's heads when I got back (hello disordered eating & compulsive exercise - we were formally introduced). Does this sound familiar?
Remember all the summer vacations when you swore that this year would be the year that you would get into shape and eat healthy in the hopes of dropping a few pounds before the next year of school started?
Or how about the feeling that swept over you when you came back to school in the fall to see that another girl in your class had suddenly dropped a ton of weight and seemingly developed overnight to the point that now she was the coolest girl in school and none of the guys could stop talking about her?
Yeah, I remember those days too. And those feelings stick with you until you realize that they're founded on cultural ideals that aim to make women smaller and quieter.
If the idea of hoping that your body will be different has recently surfaced in your mind now that you're social distancing from your friends, family, co-workers, maybe you've caught the Sabrina Syndrome too? It's highly contagious, especially when you're surrounded by the uncertainty of a new norm. And it's not your fault if you get it.
Diet culture messages are sneaky and can embed themselves into your life as easily as watching a chick flick!
If you suspect that you have Sabrina Syndrome, here are some tips to help you redirect your focus to caring for your body during these challenging times.
Increase your self-reflection and awareness of your emotions, by journaling, spending time in nature if that's available to you, or listening to music.
Finding simple, accessible self-care practices that allow you to reconnect with your body, such as deep breathing or mediation, stretching, enjoying a cup of tea or simply drinking a glass of water. None of these ideas need to take a bunch of time (5-10 minutes is enough!) or resources. The point is to just take a handful of minutes to check-in with yourself and allow yourself to sense what's going on physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And as you do these self-care behaviors, the most important gift you can offer yourself is self-compassion. These are uniquely challenging times that no one on the planet has gone through before. Whatever you're feeling right now, whatever might be triggering the desire to change your body, it's all part of trying to cope with the uncertainty of this moment we're in. It's part of your human experience.
Rather than focusing on changing your body, I invite you to change your mind, your thoughts about how you define beauty, health, and authenticity. When you flip the script on how you speak to and about your body, Sabrina Syndrome can't survive, and neither can diet culture.
And by the way, there's nothing more attractive than a woman who knows authentic self, defined by her own definition of beauty and health.
If you have a complicated relationship with food and want to learn more about how to get off the fad diet roller coaster, become and Alpine Nutrition Insider. You'll get the FREE Get Nourished Guide delivered to your inbox as well as monthly newsletters with more anti-diet tips.