I can’t really remember ever being aware of my body before the age of 10? I didn’t overthink it. I ate when I was hungry, I spent a lot of time outside playing, I never felt shameful about my body, nor did I know that I should. Those were the years. My mama fed us vegetables and protein and fruit and all the things we were supposed to eat to be healthy, and I am really proud of her for doing that on such a tight budget (I have three siblings).
But after the age of ten, boys and girls started to show interest in each other, and that is when I started becoming critical of my body, and hearing it from others as well. We are constantly bombarded with ads (in all different forms) that tell us what we should look like. We were never taught to question it either. We just believed it as the truth. Kids can be mean. I was teased endlessly for wearing glasses. From there, I felt shameful of the size of hips, my thighs, my nose, my forehead, my feet, the size of knees (stupid but true), my stomach, my butt, my acne, my pores, my hair color (mousy), my size in general, etc. I still struggle with these things. I have tried every way I could possibly think of to change myself. Different diets, cleanses. I tried to be bulimic but couldnt commit to it. I have struggled with something close to anorexia before, but couldn’t commit to that either. I've done juicing. I've used exercise as a way of punishing myself for what I have eaten. I have starved myself, then binged, then starved myself as punishment for binging.
I know, I know. We have all been brainwashed. It’s not our fault. It’s one thing to be oblivious to something. But that is why I am here to talk with you about this. If your life sounds similar to mine, you are not alone. Plus, there is a way out of this trap.
Diet culture is toxic. Diet culture is what drives people towards eating disorders and disordered eating. Diet culture contributes to lowering our self esteem and questioning our self worth. Diet culture leads us to anxiety and depression which might lead to substance abuse, and many other terrible things that affect our wellbeing. Diet culture shifts our focus from who we are at our core to what we look like. It restricts us, instead of adding more to our lives. It manipulates into thinking if I could just look like this, then I will be happy. Then I will find love. Then I will have the life I want. Then I will have value. They profit off of us abiding by these made up rules.
I don’t mean to throw anyone under the bus, but we live in a patriarchy. Men, in my opinion, have made diet culture worse for women by supporting it. I know that men have their own struggles when it comes to diet culture as well. I don’t want to say that they don’t. They do, and that is valid and true. But we live in a man's world, and most of the men I have met in my life have an “ideal” of what a woman should look like, and anything that is different isn’t attractive. Just look at Hollywood. Look at magazines. Look at the fitness industry. Look at the advertising business. Mostly men. It’s really obvious. To be honest, the last person that should be telling me what my body should look like is a MAN. I have also realized that this Patriarchal “ideal” of women also pits other women against each other, makes them compete with each other. It’s disgusting.
Those diets you've tried don't work. It’s not you. It’s diet culture.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your body. I don’t care what size, color, how much hair you have or how little, gender, what your skin looks like, if you have cellulite or “body rolls”, or whatever else you are. You are perfect and worthy just as you are.
There is no “right” and “wrong” way to eat. There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to move your body. Your size does not dictate “beauty” or your value.
I could go on and on.
My thoughts and ideas have been going round and round on this specific topic, but I never had the vocabulary to really put words to what I was thinking. Then, I found out about Intuitive Eating.
Before I dive into that, I just want to talk about intuition for a moment. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Victoria Shaw on my podcast about Leveraging the Power of Inner Wisdom. Victoria is an intuitive counselor with a background in cognitive psychology. It really got me thinking about intuition, and how I can work on really starting to listen to my own, because if anyone knows what I need, it's me.
There have been times in my life I remember clearly hearing that voice in my head guiding me on what to do. However, because we are raised or living in a society that puts more value on being realistic or rational, I have never really listened to that sweet voice. But, the times I have listened, she was right.
What is intuition?: a form of knowledge that appears in consciousness without obvious deliberation. It is not magical but rather a faculty in which hunches are generated by the unconscious mind rapidly sifting through past experience and cumulative knowledge.
Have you had a moment or many moments in your life that your heart or mind or body told you want you needed? Did you listen? If not, what would have happened if you did?
We are animals, really. We have instincts. How do you think animals in the wild live? They know what to do. They don’t worry about what they look like, or how many calories they burned that day, or how many carbs or fat or protein they consumed? I think you get the idea.
Intuitive eating, according to Evelyn Tribole, who is a MS, RDN, CEDRD-S is an award-winning dietitian with a counseling practice specializing in eating disorders, Intuitive Eating, and celiac disease, is a “self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought”.
According to the Intuitive Eating website (here), there are ten principles.
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 with Gentle Nutrition
The principles work in two key ways:
By helping you cultivate attunement to the physical sensations that arise from within your body to get both your biological and psychological needs met and
Removing the obstacles and disruptors to attunement, which usually come from the mind in the form of rules, beliefs, and thoughts.
The process of Intuitive Eating is a practice, which honors both physical and mental health. Intuitive Eating is aligned with Health at Every Size, because the pursuit of intentional weight loss is a failed paradigm, which creates health problems: including weight stigma, weight cycling, and eating disorders. All bodies deserve dignity and respect.”
I am here for it. I really am. Obviously, relearning and implementing this mindset takes time, but I really do think you will feel, in a sense, SET FREE.
We only get to live once. Why spend the time we have here worrying about these things that are somewhat meaningless in the end? I am not saying that you should be on a cupcake diet. But I do think that one of the reasons we binge or starve ourselves is because these “rules” that diet culture sets for us are just not sustainable, and when you start living and moving and eating intuitively, you won't have these overwhelming craving/shame cycles any more.
I am calling this Intuitive Wellbeing. Moving when you want to and how you like to. Eating what you want to and when you are hungry. Eating what fuels your body, but also what tastes good. Taking care of yourself, your body, your mind, your heart, from an intuitive perspective.
I hope this might open your eyes to a different way of looking at your wellbeing.
Do whatever feels good for you.
You are important and you are worth it.
I love you, and please be safe out there.