The Thin Cage

Constantly thinking about how much you weigh? A former chronic dieter takes on our obsession with being skinny.

Chances are, if you're not on a diet when you read this, you just were—or will be soon. According to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, on any given day, 64.5 million American women are on a diet and will spend billions on diet and diet-related products each year. For way too many of us, dieting is our lifestyle of choice as we constantly focus on how much we eat, how much we weigh, and how we look.

That's why Constance Rhodes,a wife and mom, founded the faith-based organization Finding Balance in January 2001. Her passion is to counter the mistaken belief that the chronic dieting done by those who don't meet clinical criteria for more extreme eating disorders is normal and healthy. She knows firsthand it isn't—she lived much of her young-adult life as a chronic dieter obsessed with staying thin. Along with the publication of Life Inside the "Thin" Cage (Shaw Books), which provides a candid look into her disordered eating and subsequent journey toward change, Constance speaks frequently on the issue, maintains a website, and provides resources and referrals to help others find the hope and healing she's found. Here's what Constance had to share with TCW.

What do you mean by "thin cage?" It's that dark prison in your mind where everything's off-limits and everything's based on performance. I spent 12 years in it by dieting constantly even though I didn't need to lose weight. I existed on water and carefully planned meals every day, and never allowed myself to enjoy a piece of cake or a slice of pizza. I was so paranoid about gaining weight that I even limited myself to ten grams of fat daily. But instead of bringing me happiness, staying thin kept me from enjoying life.

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May 25

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