What dieting promotes as reasonable amount of food is anything but. It's horribly unreasonable. My appetite never settled down anywhere close to what I believed women "should" eat. I eat substantial meals and still get stomach growling hungry a few hours later, requiring another substantial meal. I snack. I graze. I eat something because it sounds good. That IS normal. Nobody tells us. We get all this diet nonsense about tricking our appetite, ignoring hunger, and using willpower. The implication is that if we don't do those things, we're just food obsessed and doomed, but they are what cause food obsession, weight struggles, bad body image, and low self-esteem. Of course nearly everyone who tries to live that way is going to be starving and feel like a failure!
I think body dissatisfaction is often a stand-in for fear and insecurity in general. Our brain identifies a problem and wants to find a solution. "I feel uncomfortable, and if I do this it will go away." So, our body becomes the problem and fixing it becomes our life's work. We're trying to fix that feeling though, not so much how we look, which is why we can be confident and happy or very miserable at basically any size. How we treat ourselves seems to correlate to self-esteem and body image more so than how we look or what we weigh.
There is something magical about being ok with looking like yourself, not thinking it should be some other way. The image in the mirror and the one in your head match. It makes me think of Byron Katie and "loving what is." When we believe that things should be different, that how they are now is not ok, we suffer. So the dieting way of believing we're unacceptable or flawed in order to change is a setup from the beginning. If we can embrace where we are now, not only are things better in an instant, all things become possible. Which feels a whole lot better than the panic and failure mindset.
I know you wrote this in response to something in my own journal, but I keep thinking how true and powerful the body image expectation part is. My disappointment when I saw myself in mirrors or pictures, and the feeling of disgust for my body itself and feeling too large, those always happened because I was hoping and believing my body should be something that wasn't. It still happens even once in a while lately, and that's why I picked up on it recently, where just a split second before I look in the mirror, it's like I'll be automatically expecting to see a thinner body, and then its the non-matching what's actually there that's jarring and makes me feel like something's wrong. It's like there's a sneaky comparison to myself hidden right inside my mind's eye, and I'd be subconsciously wishing that my body had magically become this fantasy version somehow since I last checked. When I've pre-accepted the reality, that how I am now is okay, fat is okay, curves here and there are okay, and that's what I expect to see and feel from my body, then it really does seem just normal and okay.
So true! Ignoring hunger in any form (chewing gum, drinking coffee, drinking water, waiting an hour after you feel it) was all the stuff that MESSED. ME. UP. It was very difficult to undo because it literally rearranged my cells or something. I then had no idea "when' and "how much" to eat, because I'd been practicing ignoring them. Everyone else seemed to know and maintain decent weight because they listened to their bodies. Literally ignoring ANY of your body's signals will lead to some serious untangling in the end.