Practicing Intuitive Eating in a World Obsessed with Dieting
By: Kelsey Pukala, dietitian at Nourishing Minds Nutrition
It can be so exciting to finally ditch diet culture and move towards intuitive eating, food freedom, body positivity and joyful movement. I often hear from clients, that as they continue their intuitive eating journeys, they become hyper-aware of the diet culture and diet talk around them. It’s literally everywhere! As Christy Harrison, a fellow non-diet Registered Dietitian and Intuitive Eating Counselor says, we are swimming in a sea of diet culture. And if I could add something to that, we are definitely swimming upstream.
Even though it can be exhilarating to move away from dieting and embrace intuitive eating, it can also be frustrating because we live in a culture OBSESSED with thinness and wellness. Also, when I use the word “diet,” I don’t just mean a standard diet like Atkins or South Beach (although, those are 100% diets), but I also mean whole30, clean eating, keto, intermittent fasting, “cutting carbs,” and literally ANYTHING else that tells you how you should eat, what you should eat or how much you should eat.
Our culture is now, not only obsessed with dieting, but also with “wellness” and “lifestyle changes.” Whatever that means… All of this makes moving into intuitive eating so much harder. Intuitive eating is like a foreign language. With foreign languages, you don’t just wake up one day and have the ability to speak a new language fluently. You have to learn, practice and immerse yourself in the culture. Probably daily! Intuitive eating is similar. However, when we are constantly surrounded by others promoting diets and weight loss, that process can be so hard!
I often tell clients that it’s harder to un-learn something than to learn something. We have to un-learn years and years of diet culture convincing us that thinness equals health and how this one supplement/pill/drink etc. will be the cure-all for your problems. That is not easy and takes time.
I wish I could tell you that eventually, all the diet talk becomes quieter and it will never affect you, but I can’t. While it does get easier, I still get frustrated at times. But, it does help me to remember that I’m doing what is best for me. Unfortunately, the diet talk will still be lurking, even after you move into intuitive eating and you’ve done the hard work (although, I sincerely hope our culture is moving in the right direction). Trying to explain intuitive eating to others or feeling like you have to defend your choice of eating can be so frustrating. I hear you.
BUT, you are the expert of your own body. So often, I find myself going back to that when I am surrounded by diet talk. If others think that you are just “letting yourself go,” you are free to remind them that you are letting yourself be. You are putting an end to the constant battle with your body. You’re teaming up with your body instead of raging against it. You’re tuning in and doing what actually feels good instead of forcing yourself (and your body) through another diet or protocol that can wreak havoc on your physical, emotional and mental health.
Another thing to think about is: what is your WHY? Why are you doing this? Why do you want to be an intuitive eater? Why do you want to make peace with food and your body? What are your intentions?
Obviously, this is different for everyone. I would encourage you to think about why you even began your intuitive eating journey and what you have gained along the way. What are your values? What are your goals?
It can be helpful to learn some creative ways to deal with the constant diet chatter around you, so I have included a few helpful tips for you!
1. Surround yourself with the message YOU want to hear: create a non-diet bubble for yourself. Listen to podcasts, read books and blogs all about intuitive eating, body positivity, ditching diet culture etc. Follow body positive and intuitive eating accounts on social media. Remember, it can be helpful to immerse yourself in this new language you are learning.
2. Understand that you are not a sponge. You do not have to absorb and apply every message you hear. You have freedom to choose what works best for you. Just because someone else says it, doesn’t make it a fact, or necessarily true for YOU.
3. Think about a few kind and compassionate responses when you are faced with diet talk. Please don’t ever forget that you have a voice. You are free to ask to change the subject or redirect the conversation.
Comment below: I would love to hear what helps you reject diet culture and continue on your intuitive eating journey!
Thank you Kelsey for this amazing blog post! Want to learn more about working with Kelsey? Head over to Nourishing Minds Nutrition to learn more and book for June.
Body Image Reset is coming this week! Click here to learn more about how to reset your mindset towards your body.