This quote describes the process of letting go of diets and practicing intuitive eating perfectly!
“The only way out is through.” – Robert Frost
It is all I could think about as I watched the TV recently, following the 12 young soccer players and their coach, trapped in the complex labyrinth of Thailand caves for two weeks before being rescued. I kept thinking to myself – the only way out is through! Through the icy cold, muddy water, through tiny passages barely large enough for adult rescuers. Through hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue, and lack of oxygen, these brave young boys and their incredible rescuers made it out alive.
The entire village – no – the entire world, with expert divers from around the globe – assisted in this miraculous rescue mission. It took more than a village to rescue these boys!
Read on to learn how we can use this quote from Robert Frost and apply it to our own lives and struggles with our food, nutrition, and body image.
So how does this quote apply to recovery from dieting or disordered eating? How can it apply to our struggles with Food and Body Image?
The only way out of breaking free from food, weight and body image obsessions is to become a “normal,” intuitive eater – is through the principles of intuitive eating. The only way out is through.
The biggest challenge I hear from individual clients, as well as people in my online classes and group nutrition programs, is “How can I just stop pursuing intentional weight loss (through restricting or bingeing/purging/over-exercising) without gaining weight? What will happen to me? I am already bigger than I want to be, and I can’t imagine getting any bigger!”
The only way out is through!
It can feel impossible to imagine letting go of the pursuit of intentional weight loss (diets), even if they leave you feeling crazy, crappy, hangry, obsessed with the scale, calories, carbs or macros. But this is the very first principle of intuitive eating.
The first thing you must do is to let go of diets. Stop denying yourself foods that you would enjoy eating, foods that would feel satisfying.
If it feels too scary, consider what the young Thai soccer players did. They practiced meditation and mindfulness, while in the cave, to reduce their anxiety. Most of the boys were given medication to keep them calm in the scary rescue of life or death. They all had to wear full face oxygen masks and full body wetsuits to protect them from the icy waters. They had no choice but to deal with their fears to live.
Fears of weight gain leads some people to turn intuitive eating into another diet.
If fear stops you from letting go of diets, consider enlisting the help of a dietitian, trained in intuitive eating and health at every size (like me!). I have seen people trying to hyper-focus on the “best” way to practice intuitive eating. There is no best way to practice intuitive eating. Some people really do need a bit of extra support with food ideas and breaking free from food fears and irrational thoughts around certain food(s). Some people need even more support with a trained therapist to help them manage anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.
There is no shame in getting the help that you need.
Help! I don’t want to gain weight!
I wish I had a crystal ball to predict what will happen to your body and weight when you give up restricting food. We have no guarantees that body weight will stay the same or change up or down. Much of this depends on your personal history of dieting, disordered eating behaviors, overall health, age, physical activity, medication, and more.
Your fear of weight gain is so understandable, given the world in which we live.
We have been programmed to think that the only way to achieve health is by making our bodies smaller – even if that means that we need to literally starve ourselves, fear food, obsess over the scale, obsess over calories, points, macros, feel shameful, and for some, develop eating disorders!
We live in a culture where people are discriminated against because of their size. This is why it makes sense that you don’t want to gain weight! But the only way to heal from chronic dieting and disordered eating is to put those thoughts of weight loss on the back burner. It is impossible to make peace with food if you are chasing weight loss.
If you go down the path to intuitive eating, hoping it will change your size, it will prevent you from finding the healing you seek. Take desire for weight loss off its pedestal and focus on your mental wellness instead. Whatever happens with your body will happen and, eventually, if you really put in the work to find that peace, you may even come to a place where your size truly doesn’t matter to you anymore.
Robert Frost was a wise man and his advice very sound – The only way out is through. If you are struggling to get out, to heal your relationship with food and change your body image, I encourage you to seek support. It is a hard journey and one that statistically many will fail at when they try to do it alone.
There are many options out there. You can work one-on-one with a professional like me or you can learn about intuitive eating in my self-study program called Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond. Both options will help you make your way out of the cycle you are living in today, with the support of someone who has the experience to guide you through to get you out.
If you know you need help on your own journey, but not sure which path to take, please reach out to me and book a free discovery session. This is not a sales pitch but simply a time to find out where you are on your journey and what is the next best step for you to take to see success. Book your session today!
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!