This post has been on my mind for months, and yet I’m just sitting down to write it. I’ve been waiting for the perfect time when maybe I’ll be stronger or I’ll have more answers, but I’m realizing that there is no better time than now to share what’s going on in my mind.
I know this topic is going to bring up a lot of controversy, however what I’m sharing is what I have found to be the healthiest for me both physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Over the last couple years, I’ve come to see how rampant and messed up diet culture is. It’s all around us and has become part of our everyday vernacular.
What even is diet culture? Diet culture is a society that places value on being a certain size, weight, and shape over actual health. It labels foods as good/bad and praises or promotes weight loss as a tool for health. It may even seem to be promoting a “healthy lifestyle,” but in reality it still promoting thinness and losing weight or even glorifies eating a certain way. Now days, we don’t often hear about “diets,” the word has instead been replaced with words like”lifestyle.” In the end, it’s still the same thing.
But why is diet culture so bad? Did you know that the majority of diets don’t work (source)? Our bodies are amazing, and when we restrict certain foods they go into survival mode which can cause more harm than good. Yet beyond the stats and science, there’s an emotional side, and that’s what I can share.
Intuitive eating has opened my eyes to diet culture. In fact, the first step to intuitive eating is reject the diet mentality. The nine years of my eating disorder centered around restricting food and controlling exercise so to achieve a certain body shape and size. Moreover, my worth was defined by how well I did this. For me, and many others who struggle with eating disorders, a desire to be “healthier” and thinner led me to a diet which led into an eating disorder. It became an obsession.
Fast forward 9 years into recovery. My relationship with food and exercise is entirely different, yet I still feel the draw to change my body. When I feel uncomfortable with my body size or I feel “out of control,” the temptation to just change my body is real. Maybe if I tone up here, lose this softness, or do this eating plan, I will be able to accept myself.
All around me I hear about “clean eating,” going gluten-free (without a gluten allergy), eating paleo, or doing Whole30. They seem innocent enough. I’ve even given some of them a try. Yet, none of them have made me feel better about who I am. Actually, many make me feel like I’m not enough or that my body needs to change. A diet is not the answer.
I say that because I know how the never ending rabbit hole the pursuit of an ideal shape or perfect eating leads nowhere good. When I struggle to accept my body, I have to sit with it. I sit with the discomfort, with the emotions. And let me say, this is not settling. Working through negative emotions with your body and learning to accept your body just as it is only makes you stronger.
The thing is, our bodies will not stay the same. As we go through life stages and age, our bodies change, and that is okay. We do ourselves a bigger favor learning to love our bodies at whatever stage they’re at than trying to manipulate them.
Now, I know I’m riding a fine line here. I’m by no means saying we should disregard our bodies and health. I love fresh foods, whole grains, and “healthy” foods, yet I also love ice-cream (the real thing), bread, wine, etc. When we tune into our body, we see that it want’s good food and fun food! It wants to move and rest.
The difference between what I describe here and a diet is intention. Is the way you’re eating or exercising fueled by the goal to lose weight? Are you trying to feel better about your body?
I’m on a journey to learn about my body and appreciate it at whatever size it’s at. It may change in the future, but deep down I want to be rooted in who I am regardless of size. I want to fuel my body with good food and not miss out on life because I need to eat a certain way.
What about you?