How Envy Impacts a Keto or Banting Weight Loss Transformation

by Victoria Webster, Clinical Psychologist


“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” 

We all know this famous question asked by the narcissistic Evil Queen of the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We also know that the Evil Queen didn’t get the answer she was looking for one day when the magic mirror said back to her, “Snow White, O Queen, is the fairest of them all.” 

Oh boy, did the queen lose the plot and the envy within her exploded out in a very poisonous (literally in the creation of an apple) and destructive way, ultimately leading to her own untimely death. The queen heard the words of the magic mirror and created a story about Snow White, a story where Snow White was the problem and needed to conclude with Snow White’s heart being brought to the queen in a box (the queen was very dramatic). 

In that moment all the queen’s darkest fears about herself came to the surface – not being good enough, not being beautiful enough, not being loved enough — the very things she did not want to face about herself. If the magic mirror had a chance to say more, I think he would’ve told the queen that her reaction was more a reflection on her than Snow White.  

Envy, like all of our emotions, is a normal emotion; it serves the purpose of letting us know that someone else has something which we want and serves to motivate us to get that very thing. It reminds us of the things we wish we had and sometimes these realisations are difficult to tolerate. 

Often envy can uncover deep insecurities, wants and needs. Unfortunately, probably because we don’t talk about it enough, we experience envy like some kind of moral failure and so it can bubble within us and become something toxic and harmful. Imagine a moment of feeling envy: maybe you are in a new social situation, feeling awkward, and the most “perfect” person walks into the room – no, actually she seems to float through the room. She has the most perfect body with lusciously soft skin that has clearly never experienced any sun damage. She oozes confidence.

The thought process that ensues might sound something like this: “Damn her, she clearly has never had a weight issue in her life, she probably eats pizza for every meal and has never experienced what it feels like to struggle. It is just so unfair!” You might even secretly wish that you could trip her as she walks past, but this is not possible because she is floating (damn her again!). This is the story, fuelled by envy, that you tell yourself about her. However, this is really a story about you and some of your insecurities and fears. You could try to trip her, hate her from a distance, eat a doughnut in rebellion and continue to revel in the idea that life is just totally unfair… or you could try to re-tell your own story.

If we look at envy as a story about us, it actually gives us insight into who we are and who we want to be. If treated incorrectly, envy can spiral into a never ending well of self-pity and loathing. Just like the slave trapped in the magic mirror (poor guy), the queen trapped herself in her own personal torture chamber of telling herself she was not good enough. If only the queen had taken the time to look in that mirror, I mean really look, she might have been able to do things differently. She might have had to do some self-acceptance around, say, her age (turns out Doc of the seven dwarfs had a degree in psychology, if she had only just asked), but she could have made some real changes around how she treated the people of the kingdom and worked on being more kind, gentle and caring. The qualities that she hated in Snow White. The queen, in understanding her envy, could have gained a relationship with a step-daughter and lived out the rest of her life without looking in that mirror every day.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? You may not have a magic mirror, but I bet you hear it talking back at you – in your own voice. You may hear criticism and harsh opinions of how you should, would and could be. Often, we can confuse what we are really envious about – yes, a floating girl is thin and seemingly perfect (whatever this means) but maybe what we are really after is feeling confident and happy in our own skins. If we don’t pay attention to our envy, we can become envious of all the wrong things. We can create our own personal torture chambers that feel impossible to get out of. It has to be said: life is not fair and maybe a floating girl won the genetic lottery, but what do you already have that you can start work on?

Here are 7 ways to break the spell of envy:

  1. Talk about the things you really want for yourself, even if it feels difficult 
  2. Let the emotion of envy be a doorway to understanding more about yourself – see it as a reflection of you and not an unfair advantage of others
  3. Don’t tell yourself stories about others – we have no idea what other people are going through
  4. Treat yourself with compassion —  don’t eat the poisonous apple (and anyway apples are high in sugar)
  5. Look into the mirror to seek acceptance, not to seek rejection
  6. Stop comparing yourself to others – the only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday
  7. Be grateful for what you do have –indulging in envy means counting the blessings of others and not your own

If you want to make some real and suitable lifestyle changes and get out of your own personal torture chamber, you can look into joining the RMR Coaching Program or Hero Group Support Group. 

The coaches and other participants in these programs are not quite slaves trapped in a magic mirror, however it will be like holding up a mirror to yourself that gives you support, guidance and challenges you to be accountable. It is not magic strictly speaking, but it is pretty magical. The queen could have really benefited from it. 

Next time you feel that prickle of envy rising up in you, welcome it, and have a look at what it is trying to tell you. Remember that envy is a reflection of you and how you feel about yourself and the story you make up in your head about the other person is just that – a fairy tale. Take heed from a very lonely queen who suffered because of her own envy and learn from a floating girl because she can be there to hold a mirror up for you, too, and maybe there is a happily ever after in store for you yet.