A little while ago, I started a blog series about Intuitive Eating, a book written by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. This book literally changed my life and changed my outlook on food, health, and self-love. If you would like to revisit two of my previous posts on intuitive eating, you can find them here and here!
Looking back, Intuitive Eating teaches 10 simple 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
During today’s post, we will discuss step 4, Challenging the Food Police.
Challenge the Food Police
People like rules. Heck, our entire society is made up of rules and laws that govern our actions. We like structure, and we like simplicity. But what happens when we try to create rules around our eating habits?
Magazines and fitness “gurus” love these rules. They like them because they’re easy to sell and play-off our love of structure and order. But by creating and following rules like, “No sugar after 7pm” or “I have to eat 6 mini meals a day” or “I can only eat pizza on my cheat day,” we actually set ourselves up for disaster. Because, like all rules, we also create consequences for breaking them.
What are the consequences of not eating sugar after 7pm? Or not eating 5 instead of 6 mini meals a day? Or eating pizza after a bad day at work? The consequences we tell ourselves may include “We’re not disciplined enough”, “We’re going to gain weight”, “I’m not good enough,” and “Since I messed up on my diet today, I guess I’ll just eat whatever I want the rest of the day.” Sound familiar?
These negative consequences we create lead to negative self-talk and doesn’t help to encourage healthy behavior changes. In fact, these rules and consequences make it hard to get any headway in making long-term lifestyle changes. Suffering from poor self-esteem and lack of weight loss from following these rules is just what the media wants because it makes you buy more of their magazines or try more useless supplements (which by the way aren’t regulated by the FDA, fyi). The media runs off our insecurities and our failures. It is what keeps them in business. Kinda sad, right? I’ve illustrated this common cycle below:
So what are you going to do to stop it? When are you going to say enough is enough? Because the media won’t tell you. Actually, no one will probably tell you because this is what most of us continue to do with no results. But today, I am going to tell you that this type of thinking cannot and will not work for you. We must stop fighting ourselves and stop believing that nutrition is black and white… because it isn’t.
The first step to changing how we act is changing how we think. So how can you change how you think? Well, it takes time. It took me two years, and for others, it might take less or more. But the most important message to remember is this: we are not perfect – so how do we expect our eating habits to be?
This process starts with self-acceptance. You must come to terms that you are not and will never be perfect. And it’s okay to fail sometimes. We’ve all been there. To say we haven’t would be a lie. When I was going through a rough period in my life with binge eating disorder, I found a fantastic quote that helped me finally understand what I had been missing all along in my healthy lifestyle journey:
“Saying ‘Oh I’ve ruined my good eating today, I’ll just eat crap’ is like saying, ‘Oh, I’ve dropped my phone on the floor, I’ll just smash it till it breaks.” – unknown
This quote really resonated with me, as I began to realize that messing up sometimes was okay. But it wasn’t okay to continue to hammer myself into a wall until I was broken. Living this way didn’t allow me to ever put myself back together because all I did was continue to break myself into pieces again.
Everyone’s journey is different. Your journey will not be the same as mine or your friend or a family member. But you have to find your own way of learning self-acceptance. So stop trying to be perfect all the time. Don’t trash your whole day just because you slipped on your nutrition plan once. Try to stop taking yourself so seriously when you are on your weight loss journey. It’s a journey for a reason. So laugh at yourself from time to time. Love yourself and accept that you are not perfect, but you are getting better each and every day. Because at the end of the day, you must first love yourself in order to truly change yourself for the better.