Have you noticed a backlash against all things “diet”? There’s a trend amongst influencers to essentially badmouth the concept of dieting and instead praise what they’re calling “intuitive eating.” The other trend that I’ve noticed is the “Body Positive Movement.” I’d like to break these two concepts down a bit and share my two cents on them.
Intuitive eating is a lot like what it sounds like. The goal with intuitive eating is to listen to your body and fuel it appropriately. It evolved, in part, as a backlash to diet culture and to support the women, and men, who struggle with eating disorders.
There are 10 Principles to Intuitive Eating. They include:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise, feel the difference
- Honor your health
You can find the list and more information about these 10 Principles here: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/
In general, when I look at this list of principles I have a couple of competing thoughts.
Thought #1 Yay! Yes, of course you should honor your hunger, respect your body, and challenge the food police. Yes, yes, yes.
Thought #2 Holy shit, does this approach come with a therapist?
Thought #3 What about those who aren’t here yet in the process? It is a process, and you have to develop an awareness about foods and how you feel physically, emotionally, mentally before you can actually accomplish these principles.
Thought #4 BS. What about those people who WANT to lose weight, who WANT to have guidelines for eating?
I don’t think diet culture is 100% right or wrong. I think it can lead to improved self-knowledge. I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have or chosen the RN path that I took without first having tried the Paleo Diet. The same is true for Keto. I learned a lot about my body, what it needs, and when it needs it by experimenting with the Keto Diet.
So yes, while I support eating based on hunger and what your body needs, if you have little to no awareness, this principle is impossible. It’s pretty damn easy to feel like your body needs ice cream. It takes experimenting with diets and nutrition approaches to learn that it doesn’t need ice cream; it needs fat and maybe carbs.
The Body Positive Movement
The Body Positive Movement essentially states that “all human beings should have a positive body image, in doing so it challenges the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. The movement advocates the acceptance of all bodies no matter the form, size, or appearance.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity)
Duh. We all should love our body as it is today and we should love our body enough that we want to take care of it. The human body is an amazing thing. What it does every day to keep us alive and functioning is astounding. Yet, too many people treat their body horribly.
I absolutely support the body positive movement. I believe that if you love your body, you’ll take better care of it. Yet I see people taking this movement, and twisting it to be a “I love myself and I can eat whatever I want and exercise sucks” kind of approach.
You do you. But don’t tell me that you’re being body positive if you’re smoking, sitting on the couch, and eating junk food.
The human body is beautiful in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can love your body and take good care of it.
Weight and health are not synonymous. I meet unhealthy skinny people every day and I meet healthy overweight people every day too.
Beauty standards suck. Taking care of your body doesn’t. This is an amazing organization that is sending the right message about Body Positivity – https://www.thebodypositive.org/
So Where Does This Leave The Average Woman?
There’s a lot of information and mixed messages out there. Social media, the news outlets, and television programming are all telling us different things about what we should be, and in the end you’re left to figure it out for yourself. And that’s okay.
Start by deciding what YOU want.
Dig deep and figure out why you want what you want.
Pay attention to how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally.
If changes need to be made, then educate yourself. There are truly wonderful resources available to you. If you need help finding the right resources, email me and I’ll be happy to help you.
Get support. Find a coach who can work with you from an honest and organic place (not one that works from a template or has steadfastly attached themselves to any prescription plan or dogma). Find a group of people on the same path you’re on. Learn from each other. Talk with a functional medicine doctor if you need medical advice. Traditional western MDs will not likely have answers for you.
Experiment. Don’t be afraid to approach your goals with an experimental attitude. “Let’s see what works” is a fantastic place to be. You can try nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle approaches and find what works best for you.
Are You Paying Attention?
Finally, I believe that nothing is all good or all bad.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and no food is all good or all bad. It’s okay to say that a particular food is off limits for you and it’s okay to say no foods are off limits. It’s okay to eat however you want and it’s okay to have a rigid eating plan – you do you.
However, as you make these decisions about what you eat, when/if you exercise, and other lifestyle habits, try to do it from a place of health and loving and appreciating your body. A rigid eating plan and rigorous exercise habit can be just as unhealthy as not exercising and living on junk food. You have to pay attention.
The Intuitive Eating and Body Positive Movement are part of the spectrum of our diet and health culture. Take what works for you, what supports you to be healthy and happy, and move forward. If you want assistance with learning more about your body’s needs and your current health habits, download my free awareness course.