Are you bogged down by counting calories, tired of obsessing over what foods are healthy and what foods are unhealthy?
Do you spend way too much time reading the labels of each item of food you consume? Do you label foods as “good” or “bad”? Do you judge yourself based on what or how much you have eaten or what the number on your scale says?
Do you judge yourself based on what or how much you have eaten or what the number on your scale says?
The diet world and social media are multi-billion dollar revenue industries that are rooted in making you believe that you are imperfect, and need to change your body or body shape in order to be happy and live the perfect life. Our world view of health and fitness is grounded in the diet mindset of restriction and rules. From a very early age, we are socialized into a paradigm of believing that there is only one correct way to eat – whatever that might look like to each individual- and what rules need to be followed in order to have the perfect body. We can only be happy and have the perfect life, when we reach our perfect weight or have the perfect body and follow the perfect diet.
Our rules about food, and body are learnt. Learnt from parents, caregivers, peers, our culture and importantly from the media. The ability to self-regulate satiety is lost as children learn to pay less attention to signals from their bodies. Babies have the perfect internal mechanism for regulating satiety. They cry when they are hungry, and stop feeding when they are full. But as babies grow and start have solids, and interact more in the world, food and eating is tied into much more than just hunger and energy. For example, children are encouraged to eat nana’s food “all up like a good child”, even if they are not hungry. Children learn to gain parental approval by finishing everything on their plate – often associating love with parental approval. And the reverse is also true. Children perceived to be overweight by caregivers are often denied a second helping, or given smaller portion sizes. This creates the potential for children to increase their preference for forbidden foods and leads them to overeat it whenever it is available.
As children enter the teen years, and peer pressure as well as social media plays an enormous role in their lives
As children enter the teen years, and peer pressure as well as social media plays an enormous role in their lives, pressure to be thin or to have the ideal body often leads to food restriction, rules around good and bad foods, rules on portion sizes and so on. For many teens, body shape is an obsession, and there is an incredible fear around weight gain. In the pursuit of “thin” and the perfect body, rules around eating, food and exercise dominate. And the mindset that it is all about control and willpower is widely held.
It is time however, for a radical shift in the mindset of those who hold onto these toxic nutritional beliefs.
It is time to move away from the mindset of judgment, rules, restriction, food shaming, fat shaming and perfectionism. It is time to move towards a different understanding of nourishing yourself. An understanding that rules and restriction don’t work – because if they did, we’d all be skinny minnies with the perfect body (if that is what we all aspired to!). If diets worked, we would not be constantly bombarded with the lie that this next “new” diet is the best one yet!!
Anything that compromises your health, personal happiness and enjoyment of life can only lead to anxiety, unhappiness, isolation …. And certainly not the ideal weight or body shape.
Life, and our bodies are in constant flex and flow. Eating, and nutrition too is about flexibility and flow. It is about being adaptable, listening to the wisdom of your body, tuning into the messages of your body. Letting go of rules and the diet mentality allows you to nourish your body with food, listen to the cues your body sends about hunger and fullness. It is about letting go of guilt and shame. So empower yourself. Trust your body and its innate wisdom.