Today an article on my homepage offered me tips on fighting belly fat after 40.  It wasn’t bad information, but the headline is a poor choice for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Fear of fat, both in food and on the body, is a major player in the onset and perpetuation of eating disorders–especially anorexia. More people die from anorexia than any other mental illness.

Fear of fat, the war on obesity, and all the “fat fighting” products and formulas are, in my opinion, doing more harm than good when it comes to promoting sustainable health promoting behaviors. We have to work with our bodies, not against them. Like any relationship, if we come at it with our fists up, the natural response is to defend against the threat of attack.

Neurologically, fear only motivates short term behavior changes. For long-term, sustainable changes, the neo-cortex (which shut downs when fear is activated in our autonomic nervous system) must be engaged. This wise, rational part of our brain is most effectively activated by compassionate, open, accepting and loving attitudes and communication.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I say, how about working with your belly fat, not fighting it.  Maybe you don’t have to “love your belly” or “fall in love with fat” as others have, but how about dropping the fear and fight mentality. Your belly just might be more cooperative if you do.