Are you working towards being happy and feeling at peace with yourself? Do you think that it’s your fault if a diet product fails? On what do you focus your energy and effort in your daily life? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about the phrase; “I think I’ll be happy if” … “I think I’ll be happy when …”


  • The diet industry makes promises that are designed to fail
  • “I think I’ll be happy if …”
  • What are you focused on?

The diet industry makes promises that are designed to fail

The diet industry is one of the most profitable and successful markets out there. Have you stopped to ask why? Their products and promises are sold to you and there are so many variations – new and old – because they do not work. Additionally, they make you believe that they do not work because you didn’t do them correctly, which is untrue. They are designed to fail, and then you blame yourself and buy another product that is bound to fail as well. In a culture obsessed with the diet industry and looking a certain way, one of the most important and revolutionary things you can do is to not buy into their promises. You then become untouchable and immune to their advertising and subliminal messaging.

“I think I’ll be happy if …”

How do you know you’re going to be happy if you look different? A human trait is to seek happiness and validation externally, but it is possible – and encouraged – to find an internal source because it will protect you from chasing false promises and bad habits or people.
It really doesn’t matter what you look like. It really doesn’t matter [what] your size [is], or your weight, does it? Because no matter what it is, it’s [about] what’s going on in your mind, [about] the feeling that you have about yourself. (Dr. Castagnini)
The way that you see yourself is what matters. You could look exactly the way you envision is “perfect”, but if you don’t think so, then it will never be possible. The life that you want is not connected to certain body sizes or shapes. It is connected to you, and how you think and feel about yourself.

What are you focused on?

Your energy follows your focus. What you focus on is what your brain and mind will pay attention to.
If you’re so focused on the food, the weight, all of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around the eating disorder … you don’t have any space in your head to think about all the things that are stressful or hurting. (Dr. Castagnini)
If you are stressed or anxious or suffering, you may distract yourself from it as a way to cope. You may also become hyper-aware and want control, especially if you feel out of control in other areas of your life. In both cases, controlling food and exercise is a symptom of a greater issue, and is temporary help. It does not solve the problem, which may lie beneath these behaviors. Focus your energy on genuinely healing your body and mind.
You deserve to get better. You deserve to feel better, and you deserve to have a life where you can feel happy that has nothing to do with the number on the scale. (Dr. Castagnini)



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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Podcast Transcription

[DR. CRISTINA CASTAGNINI] Behind The Bite podcast is part of a network of podcasts that are good for the world. Check out podcasts like the Full of Shift podcast, After the First Marriage podcast and Eating Recovery Academy over at Welcome to Behind The Bite podcast. This podcast is about the real-life struggles women face with food, body image and weight. We're here to help you inspire and create better healthier lives. Welcome. Well, hello everyone. Today's show is just me. There's a couple reasons for that, some scheduling issues and some other things. But I actually was thinking about that, I think it was the universe making it so that I got to answering some questions that have, it's interesting, I have been getting the same questions from many, many sources, not just from people I have sessions with or messages in my email inbox but also people in in normal day-to-day life. What I've been getting asked is, "Doc, I really am struggling because I really feel like I will just be so much happier if my body looked different." We'll get into more of the nuances with they bring up that discussion with me because I've talked on the podcast here before about toxic diet culture and societal standards of beauty ideals that are just unattainable and unrealistic and how social media puts out these images that like I said, unattainable and unrealistic. When you are constantly bombarded with those images and see them that gets put in your brain as that's what's considered "beautiful." That's a setup. The diet and beauty industry continually puts those images out there so that people think that is attainable, number one but that gets stuck in your mind as that's what you're supposed to look like. That becomes the standard. That's what you constantly see over and over and over again. So then if you look in the mirror yourself and you don't look like that, you and your mind have a comparison going on and you're going, wait, I don't look like that. I look like me. Then you feel bad about yourself. You feel like, oh, well I must be doing something wrong because I don't look like all those other images I see all of the time. Then this perception out there that, oh well because all these other people look like that, then it must be something that I can achieve too. So how do I do that? Again, I must be doing something wrong, so there's this, I'm not good enough. I'm not trying hard enough. I have to do something. I must be doing something wrong. There's nothing wrong with you though. You're not doing anything wrong. What's wrong is that the diet and beauty industry is putting those things out there and perpetuating these erroneous beliefs, if you will, that people actually look like that they don't, but that people can actually look like that. Everybody can look like that they can't and then it's even more horrendous that then they try to sell you products and programs and things that they make tons and tons of money on making you believe, oh, if you buy these things then it's the holy grail to achieving these that look or that body. Then when you ultimately try these things and white-knuckle it and struggle through them and you can't sustain it because they're ridiculous and you don't end up looking the way that you were promised, you blame yourself. You don't blame the products, you don't blame anything else. You blame yourself and you already felt bad to begin with. You felt bad so that's what prompted you right to going and buying those products. You had hope, those products gave you hope. They gave you false promises. So then when you don't achieve the goal, you blame yourself. So now you feel even worse. That's a horrible setup. You're also primed to going and buying another product and make those other companies even more rich. It's just about a cycle. But I think what I was trying to bring up with all of this is I'm hearing these questions of, well, I just, I think I'll be happier if, or I'm just waiting to do x, y, z until I look different or I achieve this goal. What goes along with that oftentimes is when I get into a discussion with somebody and I'll say, well, how do you know you're going to be happier if you look different? I'll ask them, well, have you ever looked different? Have you ever been in a body that size or appearance where you were different than you are now? I often hear people say, oh yes, when I was in high school or when I was 10, 15, 20 years ago or before I had kids or whenever it was, I looked totally different. I look at pictures back at myself and think, oh gosh if I could look like I did back then or I had no idea how great I looked back then. Then I hear the kicker thing that always gets to me. I hear this over and over again, and I don't know if any of you can relate to this, but I hear, but I still felt awful about myself back then and I thought I looked horrible and I wanted to change myself back then, even when I looked like that, if I had only known how good I really looked. I think that's the part that gets to me and that's the part I point out to people when I'm talking to them and I say, it really doesn't matter what you look like. It really doesn't matter your size or your weight does it. Because no matter what it is, it's what's going on in your mind, what the feeling is you have about yourself. Because I can guarantee you, even if you take on some program or diet and you white-knuckle it and you happen to get down to whatever goal you have inside hasn't changed, how you feel about yourself hasn't changed, it'll be fleeting. Maybe you'll have a moment of like hitting this, ah just because you hit some goal for a minute, but how long is that going to last before you're like, wait, that wasn't enough? Maybe, and this is what the slippery slope is, that's scary, is if any of you've done this and been there and you realize, wait, I hit this goal, it wasn't enough. Maybe I'll just go a little bit longer or lose a little bit more and you just have to keep going and going and going because you realize that happiness or the life you perceived that you were going to have once you hit this goal, you didn't get that. It's actually even worse because if you think about it, if any of you listening have ever taken on some like very restrictive diet or exercise program with the intent and goal of looking different and losing weight, how is your life? Usually when you take on something like that, your life is pretty restricted as well and you are not being very social and your whole life revolves around making sure that you fit in all the things that you're supposed to fit in and following all those rules and doing everything so perfectly. So the whole goal of looking a certain way or attaining those goals is so that you can then be social and connect with people and have a life and be "happy," whatever happiness looks like for you. So the whole path of getting to that life you're wanting and being happy, it might take a very long time. You might be on that for a long, long time and that whole time you're missing out on actually having a life and being happy and connecting with people. So what is the point so that one day you can look down at the scale or go buy a pair of jeans that says some number, and then what is something magical going to happen? What's magically going to happen that your life's going to poof, becomes something amazing because what's sad to me is that if you really look back at it's like what events, what memories, what connections, what experiences did you miss out on just to get to that one point in time, reach that one goal? Then the other thing to think about too is once you reach that, you have to think about what it took to get there, all that struggle, all that effort, all that sacrifice. You have to maintain that, you have to keep doing that to stay where you're at. That can't stop because if you stop, what happens? You're not going to be able to have this life you imagine in your mind because you're going to have to keep doing what you've been doing. That's how you got there. I know I've talked about this before on the podcast, but the path to "happiness" is actually paid with health. It's awful. So when I ask people to define happiness, what is your happiness? Imagine the life you're really wanting, why is it that imagining yourself in a different body in a different size is what is going to be like the key to the happiness? That's to me a very sad thing. Do you pick your friends based on size or what numbers on the scale? Do you go and ask people, excuse me, what was this number on the scale this morning? Or would you ever stop being friends with your best friend if they looked different? I don't think so. Would you love somebody in your life that you cherish deeply if they just looked different or their body got bigger? Ask yourself these questions like what does it really take to have a close bond and deep connection with somebody? It's morbid, I know to say, but I've never ever been to a memorial or funeral and had somebody say a eulogy or even read an obituary where it said anything about the person where they said, well so-and-so they always wore a size x whatever and weighed x number of pounds throughout their whole life, or they died at no such and such a weight. Never. There's nothing about a person's actual value and quality and worth based on their size or their weight. What are the things that really, really matter about somebody? What are the things that touch people's lives about somebody? What are the things that people remember? It's not that I can tell you. So if you really think about it, if you're spending your whole day, your whole life, even some people they do, but when I ask people, well, how much time do you spend in your day thinking about food or your body or your weight or exercise or what you want to eat or didn't eat or like the whole thing? That's like 80, 90% of my day and I was there. Believe me, I've shared this with you guys. I remember being there and I was sad that like I probably missed out on so much because I was so focused on that my mind was so occupied but if you think about that, 80%, 90% of your time is focused on that and that's not what matters. At the end of the day, at the end of everything that is not what matters at all. That's taking your time and focus and energy away from the things that really do matter. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not, believe me, I know, but I'm pointing this out because I really want you to think a little bit about what's the, what are all the sacrifices you're making in your life just to try to reach some goal? It's a façade. I get it. It's out there in societies, this image too of like, oh, if you look a certain way, these people, these people that look this way have a happier life. They're, they're more valuable. They're right, they have more value, they have more worth. No, they don't. I want you all to challenge that belief. That's not true. Each and every single one of you listening has value and worth. You have something wonderful and special about you that makes you you. That's why you're here. That's why we're all not the same person. I think that when you find that passion, that thing about you that makes you you, that you want to put more time and effort and energy into your eating disorder, if you have an eating disorder becomes much less important because you want to put more time and effort and energy into the thing or the things that really drive you. I could get into a whole other discussion about like how eating disorders and body magics aren't about food. They're not about weight, they're not, they seem like that on the surface. They're really about control. They're really about distracting yourself from the things that are hurting and the things that are painful. It makes some sense if you are so focused, again, like on the food, if you're so focused on the weight, if you're so focused on all of the thoughts and feelings and behaviors around the eating disorder or the exercise, all of that, then you don't have any space in your head to think about all the things that maybe are stressful or hurting or not okay in your life. You can feel like you're in control of something. Your body is something that's tangible. You can touch, see and feel your body. You can't touch, see or feel pain like emotional pain, you can't touch, see or feel anxiety. I mean you feel it in your body but you can't really like feel it like you can feel your arm or your leg. So if you can see changes, visible changes in your body that you can touch and feel and you can see changes on the scale, see changes in the size of your clothes, then you start to have this sense of I can control something. You have something external that you see changing. You're like, okay, I'm doing something and I'm controlling something, I'm in charge of something. This feels good. I'm putting effort and energy into something and there's results. That can feel very empowering, that can feel like I'm taking charge of something, but what are you really trying to control? That can actually get really confusing as well if you're getting a lot of pat on the back, a lot of encouragement from people in your life or people start saying, oh gosh like, I wish I had as much willpower as you, or wow, you look great. Or I mean, if you're getting a lot of external validation as well, it can be really, really hard to want to stop doing all of that. It can be even harder because once you stop doing all of that, your mind's not as focused on all of that and your mind clears up and all the stuff you are avoiding, all the stuff that you felt out of control of, all the pain, stuff that is was sitting there under the surface, it starts to come up. That can be a lot and so that's why it's real easy sometimes to just go back and revert back to the behaviors thought relapse, like a little bit. You can, that's why we say like treatment, it's not a linear line. It's zigzaggy and circular and all over the place. It's messy looking because it's hard. Nobody says that's easy. That's why when people say, oh, I'm trying to do this myself, that is a very, very difficult thing to do because as things start to come up for you, even painful things or traumas or high anxiety, that's a lot for somebody to try to do on their own. I'm rambling think a little bit tonight, but like I said, I've just been getting lots and lots of questions about all these kinds of things lately, trying to touch on all of them a little bit. But I think we're all all related in a way. Ultimately, your eating disorder is not going to change your life for the positive. It's not going to solve your problems. Ultimately, you're going to have these things that are sitting there in you that are hurt, hurting, and they're painful. When you really stop the eating disorder behaviors and stop focusing on your body and you really get to the why, the hurt, the pain, and you work through those things and you acknowledge them and you start to sift through maybe like learning coping skills to deal with anxiety or dealing with your trauma and getting treatment for that's when your life starts to change, that's when things internally to feel better. You all deserve to be happy. I mean, I'm not saying happiness comes in then you're just eternally happy forever. I mean, we're human, we have emotions and with that we have like the whole gamut. We're human. So I mean, it would be great if we felt happy all the time. We don't, but we can definitely stop numbing ourselves out from the negative emotions and the painful emotions. Because what happens is when we numb ourselves out and we distract ourselves from the painful emotions, we also don't get to feel the happiness, the joy, the elation, any of those positive feelings that make life really great. So anyway, I'm just bringing this all up because if there's anybody out there who's really just struggling, I just want to let you know it makes sense. It's really tough. Eating disorders, body magicians, they're tough and I don't want to make it sound like, oh yes, just go get treatment and it's so easy. It's not. Be kind to yourselves, have some self-compassion. I know that's easier said than done because I know most of you in out there listening have very harsh inner critics in your mind and you're very hard on yourselves. Most of you probably very perfectionistic have very high standards for yourselves. But you're also probably very mean to yourselves and very cruel. So if you can just take a step back and try to just say, I'm going through something really, really hard. This is tough. That would be, that'd be nice if you could say that every now and again to yourself. And I'll say it to you you deserve to get better. You deserve to feel better and you deserve to have a life where you can feel happy. That has nothing to do with the number on your scale, the number on your pants, nothing to do with those things. Don't make your life be determined by numbers. I'm going to get off my soapbox for the evening, but I hope you guys keep the questions and comments coming in. I love hearing from you guys. You are a great audience. Still can't believe we're well over a hundred podcast at this point. You guys are great. So keep me in the loop. Let me know what you want on the podcast because I'll get it on here. Alright, have a great rest of your day and keep listening. Take care. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.