Is Un-Dieting the Solution to our Problems?
Author: Riley Pearce
Social Media Director
It is nearly impossible to avoid diet culture these days. Companies are all jumping on the lucrative bandwagon of health and trying to sell you the next best weight loss solution. If it isn’t food companies, there are news sources constantly talking about what the latest diet is that will help us all look our very best.
There is an issue with this constant bombardment of diet mentality. We can no longer see food as food. Food has become a validation of our morality (“I was so good today – I only had one cookie!”); it has become the cause of an increase or decrease on the scale; and our food choices have even become social currency because if you’re following the latest diet you become part of a larger community.
Food began as fuel. We need food to grow, to move, to think, and to heal. This is why many dieticians are turning to intuitive eating as a new solution to diet culture and the anxieties it has perpetuated in our society.
Intuitive eating is exactly as it sounds – you eat as you think you should. It is the return to listening to the body and what it is asking you for.
Many people when they first begin the intuitive eating way of life find themselves eating things like fast food, pizza, sweets, and take-out. At first this may seem unnerving because we have it burned into our minds that those are “bad” foods and we should feel guilty when we eat them because they will make us unhealthy and gain weight.
Although it is true that many of the above-mentioned foods have very little nutritional value, and therefore provide you with nothing more than a moment of gratification, and an evening of stomach aches, this part of the process is important.
This initial stage is all about letting go of the rules. Eat what you want and don’t stress about whether it is good or bad.
The next stage is to start listening. We have become so obsessed with how food will affect us externally (body shape, social aspect), that we have lost touch with how it affects us on the inside. What’s worse is this preoccupation with food, and obsession with dieting has actually made dieting a predictor of 5 year weight gain, and has decreased our own feelings of self-worth.
As your path to undieting progresses, you’ll start to realize that there are foods that give you lots of energy, and there are foods that make you feel glued to the couch. There will be foods that keep your brain sharp, and foods that leave you feeling foggy and not like yourself. Some food will even affect your skin or the way you smell, while other foods will simply leave you dissatisfied and wanting more. Participants of studies on intuitive eating actually find that over time not only do they begin to understand how food directly affects them, but they begin to rediscover their self-worth and trust themselves around food anymore. The reactive and impulsive behaviours slowly begin to disappear and it is liberating.
The body is amazing at self-regulating but we have to let it self-regulate. Think about babies when they feed. Babies only feed when they want, and will stop eating once they are full. This intuition around how much and when food is needed is something we are all born with. Unfortunately, as we get older and therefore experience more of diet culture, it becomes increasingly harder to hear those hunger and satiety signals over the sounds of ads, social pressures, and our own inner critic.
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