For many, food guilt and over-exercising is driven by their need to achieve a certain physical appearance. It’s time to start fixing what truly needs to be fixed.
BY: LINDSAY SPARKS, RDN
Our current diet culture preaches that bodies are meant to look chiseled and “perfect”. They make us feel that we are broken and in need of fixing.
You are not broken.
Your body is perfectly imperfect and worthy of love, right now and always. Is it easy to love and accept yourself? Is it easy to stop the dieting and weight obsession cycle? No. Not always.
Profound love for yourself, just the way you are, is not exactly a destination it is a journey worth taking. How do you begin living a life that feeds your spark and allows you to love your body? There are many ways to break the dieting cycle and pave a path of self-love. Here are three things you can do to get started:
1. Break up with dieting.
Counting calories and restricting food groups only goes so far. There comes a point when we are living so unnaturally that we are no longer working with our body, but against it. We know that food and water are vital to life, and we cannot disregard that wholesome, nutrient-dense foods help our health and well-being.
Finding a balance between feeding ourselves both physically and emotionally is a process. The first step is to remove the dichotomous thinking of foods as “good” or “bad.” Dismantle the idea that foods have a moral code and instead think of foods as providing the body with fuel. Choose foods that honor your health and your palate.
2. Recognize your hunger and fullness.
We live in an age of distractions – school, work, social media, the news, relationships, and juggling responsibilities. It has become a part of life to speed through meals, skip meals, or eat mindlessly. A big part of getting off the dieting cycle is becoming in tune with your body’s signals for needing nourishment and stopping when your body has had enough.
At meals, slow down and focus on what you are eating. Chew well and taste your food – really taste it! Relish in the textures, the seasonings, the temperature, the flavors. If you have been eating chaotically, and don’t truly know when you are hungry or full, start by fueling yourself regularly (every 3-4 hours) and try to make your meals last at least 20 minutes.
3. Find joy in movement.
We live in a society where exercise is viewed as a chore. We often see it as something that needs to be shoved into our busy lives, and that it must be rigorous, sweat producing, and done for _ amount of time for _ days of the week. Those who hate exercising have often created too many rules about what they must do for it to “count”, or even worse, view it as “punishment” for what they ate.
Explore and experiment to find something you enjoy – dance, go on a hike, take a walk, ride a bike, do yoga, check out a group fitness class. View movement as a celebration of your body’s capabilities, versus something that must be done to mold your body into a certain shape. Focus on how physical activity makes you feel during and after, instead of the calories burned.
Above all else, please know that these tips are not meant to create more rules.
We are all unique, and eating intuitively is all about trying what works best for you. There will be times when you eat when you’re not hungry, don’t get to eat what you really want, or eat past the point of fullness. There may be times that you decide activity and movement are not enjoyable. Intuitive eating and living is all about having respect, acceptance, and kindness with yourself. It is about rejecting rules about the “right way” to eat or move your body that diet culture preaches.
Roll with the ups and downs of life, and find freedom and peace in your health.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: KRZYSZTOF PUSZCYNSKI
Lindsay Sparks, RDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Springfield, MO. In her private practice, she focuses on empowering others to embrace their bodies and live a life well-nourished. Through food, health at every size, and intuitive eating principles, she helps others cultivate meaningful, happy lives. Learn more about Lindsay at Feed Your Spark.