Diets implicitly teach us that we cannot trust our intuition – that our food choices aren’t good enough – that we are not enough. But when we stop coming from a place of body shaming or wanting to fit a cultural idea of beauty, freedom becomes empowering rather than glutenous.
I used to gorge myself on fried foods and sweet treats on vacation or for special occasions, telling myself healthy eating would start tomorrow. My restrictive approach to eating was the problem, though, not the food choices themselves.
Food isn’t morally good or bad (unless it’s being unfairly harvested).
Of course, we’re going to go nuts when “bad” choices are in front of us— we spend so much of our time convincing ourselves we can’t have them — so much effort exercising willpower so that we don’t eat them. But the truth is food feeds both the body and the soul.
Instead of focusing on what we should/should not eat, why not eat what our heart desires and then get quiet? What feedback does your body give you? Did you eat that food item to nourish the body or the soul? How often do you prioritize one or the other? What lessons is your food trying to teach? When you make a choice that doesn’t agree with you, your body will let you know. (Look for foggy brain, sluggish vibes, headaches, bloating, gas, or other digestive upsets.) And when you make choices that agree with your body, you’ll feel it too (more energy, alertness, stamina, etc.). The trick is we have to slow down to listen to our bodies.
OUR bodies. Not the media’s idea of what a body should look like but the real-life flesh-and-blood of the vessels that carry us through this life. Are you up for the challenge? Can you ditch the diet, get quiet, and listen to the messages your body is trying to communicate, and accept what is? The size of our bodies isn’t what’s important but the messages it sends are.
The number one reason you need to ditch dieting for good.
If that logic and reasoning aren’t enough to convince you that dieting is the problem, then how about this excerpt from Bacon & Aphramor’s Body Respect: “Weight set range is controlled by our hypothalamus, which regulates our eating and activity habits and metabolic efficiency to keep us at the weight where our body feels safest and healthiest. Weight setpoints are diverse in any population and are not really within our control.” That means our weight is only slightly impacted by our lifestyle. We all have a weight range unique to us and the only way to raise that weight set point is through dieting.
When we restrict food, our bodies physically go into a famine state, and the body’s biological response to famine is binge eating. Technically if a person tries to fight the urge to binge after restriction and succeeds, it can be labeled as anorexia because you are overriding your body’s biology. As Caroline Drooner so succinctly puts it, “Your metabolism is impaired by restricting, and the only cure is eating and gaining weight. Any time you eat a lot, your body isn’t losing control — your body is doing all of this on purpose. Our body actually needs “excess” food in order to heal and repair and normalize.”
It may not be the news you want to hear, but it’s the truth. We have to learn to radically love our bodies rather than force them to become something they were never meant to be. That might mean gaining some weight so that your body can find its sweet spot, and you have to be ok with that for the good of your overall well-being and health. Our bodies are instruments, not ornaments (Kite). Maybe it’s time we start treating them as such.