Here are some frightening weight loss stats for you to think about…

Did you know that 45 percent of the entire United States population listed weight loss as one of their New Year resolutions in 2018?
And that by February, 80 percent of these resolutions had failed?
Yet, each New Year rings in with commercials and ads for the latest and greatest weight loss programs, products and services. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we believe that maybe, just this time, we will lose that stubborn weight and keep it off!
But here is a reminder:  If you are like most people, your resolutions didn’t work last New Year!
Are you any closer to your weight loss goal? Do you feel any healthier and happier? I am confident your answer is a resounding NO because we have data to show that diets are ineffective for the vast majority of  individuals, and that weight loss diets actually predict weight gain, body dissatisfaction, poor self-esteem, and, for many, disordered eating and frank eating disorders.
This New Year can be a good time to REASSESS YOUR PERSONAL VALUES, instead of making resolutions that fall by the wayside.

align values intuitive eatingWhat are Values?

Identifying and understanding your values is a challenging but important exercise. Your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be. Some people have values such as health, family, friends, pets, and others have values such as recognition and success in work. Still others have values such as art, music, science, literature, or nature. It is important to learn and identify your values and not the values of other people.
When we engage in activities or thought patterns that go against our values, we feel uncomfortable.
For example, if you value family, but you have to work 70-hour weeks in your job, will you feel internal stress and conflict? If you value health and happiness, but find yourself chronically dieting, feeling crappy and low on energy, are you honoring your authentic health? Below are examples of core values and actions that support these values:

  • Value: I value physical activity because I feel better when I move my body.
  • Action: I will commit to calling a friend to walk with three times this week.
  • Value: I value honesty and authenticity in my relationships.
  • Action: I will explain my fear of the buffet table and dislike of crowds so my partner understands why I don’t want to go to his work event.
  • Value: I value my physical and mental health and want to take steps to be healthier in the new year.
  • Action: I will give up diets because I know they do not work, and will instead start focusing on healthy behaviors, such as learning to pay attention to my internal signals of hunger and fullness.

These are just a few of the many ways that knowing your values can help you understand the real priorities in your life, so you can determine the actions that support those values.
So how does knowing my values help me with the lure of the diet ads and the hopes of being smaller this new year?
Finding different approaches to health, that are in line with your values, can help you get off the vicious cycle of diets that fail, and on to the path of recovery from chronic dieting and/or disordered eating. The best method to help with this is called Intuitive Eating.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is a gentle approach to improving health by becoming the expert over your own body and its many sensations.
This means moving away from strict diets and food rules, which inevitably fail because they promote negative self-judgments, shaming and body loathing. These rules create black and white thinking of “good foods vs. bad foods” and try and control your food intake and body size.
Intuitive Eating, on the other hand, supports embracing compassionate self-care by honoring hunger, registering fullness cues, finding satisfaction in our meals, moving our bodies in a way that feels good, and finding new ways to comfort ourselves without using food.
Quitting diets is an act of courage and quiet rebellion, as the world still believes that our bodies need to be controlled and manipulated
to be smaller at all costs. The best path to stop chronic dieting and restrictive eating is to embrace the principles of  Intuitive Eating. In this process, you will be able to consider your values as well during your recovery.
No one should set aside their values in this process, your values are what will help you succeed and make peace in the long term with food and your body image.

You can read more via this article on the 3 Surprising Tactics that help you become an Intuitive Eater.

How do you know if you are living a life in tune with your values? Start by taking this quiz to see how well you are living a life that is of your own making:

  1. I have spent time thinking about what’s important to me, and I can articulate those things.
  2. While I have been influenced by my parents, teachers, society and other outside forces, I have not simply adopted their values and beliefs. My own values and beliefs come from deep inside.
  3. I am not easily swayed by others’ opinions. I know my own mind.
  4. In order to remain open and flexible, I am willing to re-examine my opinions and beliefs to determine whether something is still true for me. I am interested in other points of view.
  5. My spouse/partner is a good match for me. We share in a way that pleases me and have an ideal amount of separate space. We don’t have to agree on everything.
  6. I chose my occupation, or choose to remain in it, because it most closely utilizes my skills, strengths and passions.
  7. I also choose my friends. I don’t go along with a friendship that doesn’t feel right just because that person pursued me.
  8. Any spirituality I practice feeds my soul.
  9. I have aspirations. I spend time thinking about them and taking action toward those that are most important to me.
  10. Anyone looking at my life from the outside would see what I value.
  11. When I or a family member is sick, I listen to the appropriate health care provider. If the advice doesn’t feel right, I get a second opinion.
  12. On the rare occasion when I let someone break a boundary or persuade me to do something I don’t want to do, as soon as I’m aware of it, I take steps to stop and correct the situation.

If you answered false more often than true, you may wish to clarify what is truly important to you and then find ways to bring your life into greater alignment with those values. One of the exercises I do with my clients is to determine their values and how it affects their thoughts around eating and food. Often this can be the breakthrough needed to realize how to move forward.
Most importantly, know that you are not alone in this – the world of diet culture has created a struggle like this for too many people
As you begin your new year with ideas in your head of that perfect body, in a perfect world, ask yourself … do these thoughts align with my values? If not, stop and step back. Do a check. Put your values down on paper and look for ways and strategies to change your thoughts to align with your values. This shift can make all the difference in the world when it comes to emotional eating, food, overeating, and life on the roller coaster world we call diets.
You can make a shift. I have seen it happen with many clients. It is possible.
erica leon diettian specializing in eating disorders
PS.  If you want to overcome your struggles with food and body image, Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond can help. It 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. 
Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond can help you change your habits and thinking so you can make peace with food and your body image.
You can learn more here and register right away.  This program offers an alternative to on-one counseling OR a way to get added ongoing support.