Written by Ashley Seruya, BA
We live in a diet world, plain and simple. Our entire perception of health and fitness is molded by a diet mindset. Our views about nutrition, food, exercise, movement, and wellness are all colored by this paradigm that permeates every aspect of our lives. This diet culture that we live in takes us all hostage, and the result is a dysfunctional, if not completely disordered, relationship with food and our bodies.
Many of us come to a point where we know we need something else; something different. The constant yo-yo dieting, trips down eating disorder lane, and various obsessive tendencies eat at us until we are begging for a way out. The only way out, of course, is through. We have to dig through the muck and change our perspective; shift our paradigm. We have to leave the world of dieting behind and embrace a new way of being. Simply put, we have to walk forward into the world of intuitive eating and Health at Every Size. But this transition is anything but simple, and walking away from dieting means letting go of many perceived “truths;” truths that you’ve likely learned and held onto throughout the majority of your life.
So what do we actually have to leave behind when we walk into the world of food and body peace? What parts of our lives do we have to shed and mourn? Ahead, three diet-centric “truths” that get the boot once intuitive eating takes root:
1. Weight Loss:
Diets are sold off of the promise of weight loss. Some diets have gotten a little more clever, and claim that “health” is the goal… but health and weight are currently so conflated in our world that claiming your meal plan or way of eating will lead to greater health while promoting restriction, restraint, and rules about we can and cannot eat is really just a weight loss goal in disguise. The core of intuitive eating, by contrast, is blanket permission to enjoy all foods without guilt or self-judgment. In order to truly find satisfaction and not fear certain foods, or certain amounts of food, we have to let go of the hope of weight loss. If we truly tap into our hunger and fullness cues and don’t try to interfere or curb our cravings and appetite, our weight will naturally regulate itself to the place that feels most comfortable for our body. For some of us, that will mean losing weight. For others that may mean staying the same weight, or gaining weight. If we aren’t neutral about these outcomes and prepared for them, we can never truly embrace intuitive eating and body trust.
2. “Good” and “Bad” Foods:
We live in a world obsessed with “super foods” and ultimate nutrition. The thought of eating a doughnut pushes people into a sinful frenzy, and drinking a kale smoothie is akin to finding deliverance. It is so hammered into our heads that heated debates can erupt over the sheer idea that someone who eats steamed broccoli doesn’t have claim to superiority over someone who eats cupcakes. The fact that this statement would ruffle feathers at a cocktail party is truly laughable, because the reality is that no food on this planet is inherently better than another. Do some foods have different macronutrient qualities? Yes. Do some people feel both physically and mentally better when they focus on including certain food groups in their diet? Yes. But there is no morality attached to food, and until we accept that, we can’t give ourselves non-judgmental permission to eat all foods. Without non-judgmental permission, we can’t stop the shame spirals that lead to emotional eating and bingeing. The key to stopping these binges is stopping the guilt; to stop the guilt, we must stop attaching morals to our food. Food is just food, an apple is just an apple, a cheeseburger is just a cheeseburger, and all foods fit into a well-rounded life.
3. Shoulds: Diets have rules… rules about what time you should eat, what you should eat, how much of it you should eat, and many more. There are clear parameters so that you know when you’ve “failed” the diet, and you know what you “should” do in order to do it “right.” Intuitive eating on the other hand doesn’t really have any rules. There are guiding principles to help you along, but learning and integrating these principles takes time and personal experimentation. The only “right” way to do intuitive eating is to approach it from a place of exploration and discovery. There are no prescriptive ideas; no you “should” do this or that; no perfect set of rules to follow in order to do it perfectly. The beauty of intuitive eating is that every moment, whether it feels good or bad, is a learning experience, and a chance for you to undo all of the shoulds. There are no shoulds, but rather the opportunity to find your own truth in this mess.
You will likely discover many other diet “truths” that need to be let go of once and for all on your journey towards intuitive eating, food peace, and body trust. These are just a few of the most common, and I hope you find your own experience within them.
To begin your intuitive eating journey, or deepen your practice, join my 6-week Online Intuitive Eating Class which starts this Wednesday night. To sign up or get more information, Click below.
To learn more:
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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