How to Break up with Diet Culture- Intuitive Eating

Spring has arrived and summer will soon follow.  As we shed our leggings, sweaters, and scarves, we begin to pullout our summer wardrobe.  I know, we all think how can I put these pasty legs in a pair of shorts, or God forbid the dreaded swimsuit.  We all begin to think about getting in shape again or starting a new diet.  Consumed by shedding that winter weight we all kept hidden under our favorite sweater.  But what if we could change the way we think, and keep ourselves from going down that unhealthy rabbit hole of self-loathing or body shaming.

The word diet has morphed from what we eat on a daily basis to one of dread. Surrounded by restricted eating, creating a distorted relationship with food.  Our diet is meant to nurture us and support us in our health and well-being.  But, somehow we have transformed it into a word of dread and unhealthy short term habits.  Thus, creating a very unhealthy diet culture. 

So, I am here to help you unlearn what society has taught you about food, nutrition and body image. There is something called intuitive eating.  It was created by two dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Reach.  “It is a no-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food.”(1) It is a framework helping you to make decisions on the needs of your body instead of external rules or restrictions.  Basically, learning to listen to your body. 

We are born with the instinct to know when we are hungry or thirsty.  Just look at a baby, it feels hunger, cries and gets fed. Then when they are full, they simply stop eating, it has nothing to do with their onsie feeling tight afterwards. 

However, as we get older outside factors begin to play a huge role in how we react to our basic needs.  Look at how parents begin to mold children from a vary young age, finish everything on your plate or don’t snack you’ll ruin your dinner.  We are being taught not to trust your appetite, that you cannot be trusted. 

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by pressure to be thin, or fit an ideal of what health looks like.  Unless you have been living under a rock, we have all seen it.  That post on instagram stating that zucchini noodles have far less calories than wheat pasta, therefore a better option for your goal of slimming down.  Now, not all of these claims are a bad thing.  Zucchini is a vegetable, so I am all for that.  But, it is the rationale behind the claim that will get you stuck.  Constantly having to think about what food option will get me to my goals, how many calories does that piece of bread have or if I skip a meal will I fit into those skinny jeans? 

“Intuitive eating helps you to rediscover joy in eating.” We all deserve to eat for pleasure, so how can we get back to that? Learning to trust yourself around food and trust your body to let you know what it needs.  There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating to get you started. Now this is not a rigid set of rules, but rather a set of tools to help you reconnect with your body and learn to nourish yourself outside of the restrictive diet culture. 

10 Principles

  • Reject the diet mentality
  • Honor your hunger
  • Make peace with food
  • Challenge the food police
  • Discover the satisfaction factor
  • Feel your fullness
  • Cope with your emotions with kindness
  • Respect your body
  • Movement – feel the difference
  • Honor your health – gentle nutrition

Getting back to our natural instincts around food, can help serve our overall well-being.  Being aware of hunger cues, eating consistently throughout the day, learning what full feels like, understanding your emotional ties to food, and most of all trust what your body is telling you.  And last but not least, respect your body.  Learn to love what you were given and how to nourish it with compassion.

If you would like to learn more about Intuitive Eating check out the link below.

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