“That moment you realize that being happy is more important than being thin…”
We have a LOT of deep-seated and long-held beliefs about food, dieting and the resulting effect on our bodies.
There is no quick fix to years (often decades!) of comparison, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors and deprivation.
And while it may not be easy, straightforward or predictable, bringing attention and intention to your thoughts and behaviors around food is soooo worth it.
Step one? Start with an open mind.
Consider that maybe, that thing you’ve thought for so long about food, dieting, or your weight, might not really be true.
Thinner is better…...
Losing weight is hard……....
I will be happier once I lose these last 5 lbs……...
I’ll always be someone who has to watch what she eats……..
Once I start eating cookies/chips/carbs/fries, I just can’t stop…...
Is it really a fact? Would everyone in the world agree with the statement?
Perhaps it’s a sentence you’ve thought for so long, and believed so deeply, that it just felt true.
Consider that there are alternative thoughts out there - ones that actually serve you and make you feel good about yourself.
I am working on trusting my body to tell me when I’m hungry and when I’m comfortably full…….
I can be healthy in any size body……
Today I will make choices that respect and honor my body…..
My body is strong…..
Beauty comes in many shapes and sizes…..
What would it be like to think those thoughts instead?
Thoughts that support and lift you, rather than drag you down.
Because here’s the real truth.
Diets don’t work.
If they did, you would go on one diet and be done forever.
But that is far from reality.
At any point, more than ½ of US women are on a diet.
Research shows that within 5 years, the majority gain back most of the weight they lose while dieting (95%) and almost half will end up weighing more than before (40%)!
What are we doing here??
Struggling against our bodies as they are…. Fighting natural (life-preserving) instincts to consume calories…. Constantly comparing ourselves to the ever-present ‘more perfect other’….
Is this the pursuit of health?
If so, we know that weight can be one marker of health, but it’s definitely not the only one, nor is it the most important one. Far from it.
Is it the pursuit of perfection and living up to a certain ideal (read: unattainable) image?
“If tomorrow, women woke up and really liked their bodies, imagine how many industries would go out of business” - Dr. Gail Dines
The diet and beauty industries rely on our dissatisfaction with our bodies. They need us to always be searching for more, better, younger, sexier…. thinner.
What if instead, we worked on accepting - even loving - what currently is.
Believe it or not, there are approaches to nutrition that don’t involve a compulsive need to change yourself, to diet, obsess about the number on a scale, or feel guilty and out of control around food.
You can make peace with food and with your body…. exactly as it is.
Imagine what that could look like in your own life?
How do you think the people around you, your family members, friends and coworkers might react to you not being on a diet and actually enjoying the food you eat, rather than having endless celery and apples because they are zero points on Weight Watchers?
A life where you wake up and eat breakfast because your body tells you you’re hungry…..
Where you put aside even just a few minutes to eat lunch sitting at an actual table without the distraction of your phone or laptop…..
A night where you don’t stuff yourself with dinner because you haven’t eaten all day, or where you have (and enjoy!) the ice cream without the guilt…...
Or where you don’t make the late night trip to the fridge to see if anything has magically appeared, because you’re listening to the cues from your body that you aren’t hungry, you’re just bored….
How do you think that kind of openness, curiosity and acceptance might impact your daily life? Your happiness? Your mental health? Your levels of stress and worry?
Trust yourself to be the expert of your body.
You decide what, when, and how much to eat.
You can work to cultivate a healthy and trusting relationship with food, your mind, and your body.
It might take time. You won’t always get it right. And it will feel challenging and confusing at times.
But working toward understanding the important impact your thoughts around this complex topic have on your life (and the knowledge that your thoughts are always optional!) is LIFE-CHANGING.
Check out my Intuitive Eating Quick Start Guide for more info on a body-positive, anti-diet approach to eating and relating to your body.
** JOURNAL PROMPT!
Set a timer for 5 - 10 minutes (or longer!) and write your thoughts down about ‘NOURISH’.
Consider doing one prompt per day for a week - we could study our thoughts about this topic for years!
Get the thoughts out of your head so you can look at them objectively. All of them; positive, negative and everything in between.
* Some ideas to get you going:
* What is your relationship with food like?
* How does it feel to be ‘satiated’ or comfortably full?
* What are your ‘shoulds’ or ‘rules’ around food?
* Which foods make your body feel good; which make it feel not so good?
* How much of your time is spent thinking about food, dieting, your body etc….?
** PRO TIP!
Review what you wrote above…. Which thoughts jump out to you as particularly unhelpful or harmful?
Turn them around here and now.
Create two columns on a piece of paper:
Old Unhelpful Thoughts
New Helpful Thoughts
Write down the thoughts you would like to challenge or work away from on the left. And create a new and supportive thought to think instead on the right. For example:
Old Unhelpful Thoughts
New Helpful Thoughts
I’ll never get to my ‘goal weight’.
I am working towards feeling comfortable at my current weight.
I don’t have an off switch, I just keep eating until my plate is cleared.
I am practicing pausing during meals to check in and see how I’m feeling.
Carbs are bad news.
There is room for all foods in my life.
If I don’t weigh myself everyday, I’ll gain endless weight.
I trust my body to tell me how I feel, not a number on a scale.