This Independence Day, consider declaring your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with Intuitive Eating — NOT WEIGHT LOSS!
One of the biggest worries I hear from clients in my nutrition practice is, “Will I gain weight if I stop dieting? I just want to be “normal” around food.”
If this sounds familiar, you are in good company! Weight gain and corresponding body image dissatisfaction are universal concerns – whether from a 16-year-old high school junior, 20-year-old college student, 32-year-old new mother, or a 64-year-old post-menopausal woman!
Living in our weight-obsessed society, some of the most difficult concepts to embrace are making peace with food and accepting our body’s unique genetic set-point weight, shape and size. Did you know that on any given day, 75% of American women surveyed have unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies? That means 3 out of 4 women constantly think about making their bodies smaller.
Instead of focusing on weight loss, what would it be like to focus on healthy habits that can make you feel happier and more comfortable in your own skin?
When you let go of diets, you learn to eat for physical reasons, challenge the idea the certain foods are “good” or “bad,” and learn how to deal with ones’ emotions without using food. This is called intuitive eating.
Did you know there are four reasons women’s bodies change through their life cycle?
Here are some answers to the questions of: How and Why Our Bodies Change (or Why can’t I stay the same weight as when I was in high school or when I got married?)
It is important to recognize that our bodies are always changing and that our weight, in turn, might increase, decrease or stay the same! The only thing that is constant in life is CHANGE – this includes our bodies.
Think about how your body, or your mother’s or daughter’s bodies have changed, or are changing, through different life stages:
- Puberty: A girl’s body can put on as much as an additional 40 pounds during this important life stage, yet, so many well-meaning parents AND physicians panic if a teen puts on some extra weight as their body is developing. I hear parents say, “But I don’t want her to feel bad about herself the way I did if she gains too much weight!” Here is a better dialogue to have: Explain calmly that weight gain is normal before and during puberty; Help your child to identify if a dramatic change in body weight is related to puberty, possibly emotional eating due to school or social stress, less physical activity than usual or behavioral eating with friends after school. Focus on healthy habits such as recognizing hunger and fullness, rather than focusing on external numbers such as body weight.
- Childbirth: Although Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, lost all the weight she gained following childbirth almost immediately, most mortal women do not get back to their pre-pregnancy weight for at least 1-2 years, if at all.
- Perimenopause/Menopause: During the approximately 10 years prior to menopause, and for some time after menopause, women’s hormone levels will be shifting and eventually plummeting. This leads to an increase in body fat, especially around the middle. Dr. Margot Maine likes to refer to this as a woman’s life preserver, since the extra body fat produces estrogen (the hormone in short supply in peri-, menopausal and post-menopausal women).
- Influences on Body Weight and Possible Weight Gain: There are non-diet influences that can cause weight gain, such as:
a. State of physical and emotional health: Injury, childbirth, tending to the needs of our children and parents can sometimes get in the way of self-care, including physical activity. Certain health conditions favor weight gain, such as thyroid disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, arthritis, and certain autoimmune disorders
b. Medications: Some medications increase weight such as corticosteroids, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications, and birth control pills, among others.
c. Aging: Natural shape shifting goes on here!
d. Stress: Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone which can lead to weight gain.
e. Sleep deprivation
It is very scary to let go of the notion that a diet will fix all our problems, but it is essential to acknowledge that people really are like snowflakes – we come in all different shapes and sizes.
Despite our best efforts at making our bodies smaller (dieting), each body is unique and has a pre-determined, genetic set-point weight. You wouldn’t try stuffing a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe, or trying to change your height because you wish you were taller or shorter. The same applies to your body weight.
Embracing an attitude of acceptance of our body’s natural weight, and the normal changes that occur with various life stages, is the ultimate declaration of independence from diet culture.
You CAN Make Peace with Food and Your Body Image … Forever!
ARE YOU READY TO…
- End your struggle with food and body image?
- Stop blaming yourself for being hungry and then overeating?
- Remove yourself from the emotional and toxic diet culture we live in?
- Learn to be at peace with your body?
- Achieve an authentic, valued, and healthy life?
Online Programs to Help You Make Peace with Your Body and Food
Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond: This is a self-paced program that explores your relationship with food, your dieting history, readiness to integrate intuitive eating into your life, and teaches you how to use your values to make peace with food. This program is geared for women in Midlife, Menopause and Beyond with special lessons dedicated to how we change as we age and what role nutrition can play. Click here for all the details!
If you are unsure and prefer to schedule a free discovery call with me, Click here.
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!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!