Are you using food as a coping tool? You’re not alone.
Stress brings this on and it’s been a really long, stressful first two weeks of the year. Between the angry mob of white supremacists storming the capital, the second impeachment of this President, then add in the COVID 19 pandemic … it’s hard to focus and it is stressful!
It’s also normal to use food as a coping tool – whether that means having “too much” or “too little” food. Intense stress like we are experiencing in our world right now can have a significant impact on our appetite!
The lesson today is about signs you might still be restricting your food in an effort to make your body smaller – in other words, embracing diet culture.
Speaking of diet culture, did you know that there is a direct link between diet culture, white supremacy and anti-blackness? This is something I have been studying and diving deeper into as part of my professional development. One thing I have learned is that if we are working to challenge diet culture and challenge the systems of oppression that hold women to impossible beauty standards, we need to examine how we got here in the first place. We can’t speak to “body liberation” without acknowledging that this world is unsafe for marginalized individuals (which varies based on a person’s identities) to exist in their bodies.
I will be talking more in the future about these intersections as I continue my commitment to training and practicing anti-racism.
For now, let me say that the world is a scary place between COVID and what’s going on in our government, but WE CAN BE THE CHANGE we want to see in the world. But we can’t do it on an empty stomach!
So, let’s get back to you and food and the signs you can watch for to know if you are restricting your food.
Let me start first by saying that Intuitive Eating is not a diet. Let’s repeat that – Intuitive Eating is NOT a diet.
If you are using Intuitive Eating as a way to lose weight, maintain your weight, or eat the smallest amount possible based on your fullness cues, you are restricting.
But there are ways in which you might also be mentally restricting without realizing it. This can keep you from fully embracing Intuitive Eating – the best way to help you truly make peace with food!
4 Signs You Are Restricting Your Food
1. You Read Labels to Check Portion Sizes
If you’re still paying a lot of attention to labels on your food, stressing over the calories, sugar, or carbohydrates, then you are likely restricting. While it’s worth looking at the ingredients of your food to ensure you are getting a good balance of nutrients, looking at calories or macros can create a slippery slope of mental restriction. When you start mentally labeling things as “good” or “bad” based on these numbers, it’s difficult to truly embrace Intuitive Eating.
You may also be looking at what the “right” portion size is based on the label. Some people find this helpful, but people with a history of dieting or disordered eating use it as a tool to restrict their food, even when they don’t realize it. Basing portion size on an arbitrary standard is not going to help you discover your own body’s fullness cues.
2. You Are Mentally Calculating Calories or Macros
Back to those labels – are you mentally calculating how many calories or macros you’ve consumed? Did you skip that piece of cheesecake when you were out to dinner, because you knew your meal went over a certain number of calories? If so, you are still restricting your food. You told yourself you couldn’t have that cheesecake because you felt you had enough calories for the day. This is NOT Intuitive Eating.
3. You Still Restrict What You Consider “Junk” Food
You may also be restricting your food by trying to eat “clean” only and avoiding all “junk” food. Remember that with intuitive eating, all food is neutral; it provides different benefits for your brain and body, and there are no longer “good” or “bad” foods, clean foods, or junk foods. Sometimes you will eat a salad. Other times, a grilled cheese. Follow how you feel, what sounds good, and what will satisfy you. It is a long process, but you have to stop thinking about foods in these categories.
4. You Exercise More to Work Off What You Eat
Lastly, if you find that you change your workouts based on what you eat, then you are still restricting. Yes, exercise is great for your body and amazing for your mental health, but not when you are punishing yourself with an intense workout just because you ate a little more than usual or ate something you feel guilty about. Let’s use self-compassion to work on challenging those feelings, and find movement patterns that feel good for our mind and our body.
If you find yourself doing any of these 4 things… you are restricting your food. This can lead to long-term issues and it is all part of the diet culture we live in. Women aiming for that Barbie Doll body – something that is not realistic!
And with all the stress we are dealing with in today’s world, restricting food can escalate even more.
There are techniques and methods that can help you curb this type of behavior and come to a place where you make peace with food and your body. And we all need peace these days!
I offer a variety of ways in which I help women do this very thing, as it is hard and even harder to do it alone.
Feel free to reach out to me and book a free 15-minute call so we can talk about your most pressing issue with food and your body image, and I will offer the best ways to move forward and make the changes you need so you can thrive!
You can also learn more by checking out some of my online programs that guide you to get started on a journey to a life free of restricting food!
Do you wonder if you are ready to dip your toes into Intuitive Eating?
And you are looking to develop lifelong habits of healthy eating, whatever the ‘healthy’ may mean for you…
If this sounds like you… it means you ARE Ready to Dip your Toes into Intuitive Eating and Discover how it can CHANGE your LIFE! And this beginner intuitive eating program is a good fit for you.
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!