When it comes to health, there’s a negative perception around the phrase ‘letting yourself go’. Let’s get to know why flexibility may have a more positive impact on your wellbeing in the long run.
Many people believe their body size is unacceptable and have immense fear of weight gain. We are told that losing control means you’ve let yourself go, and don’t care about your health or appearance. We are sold this idea that the pursuit of thinness is what we should be doing, and being thin will ‘fix’ everything.
However, weight and health are two very different things.
People have the ability to be healthy and have health-promoting behaviors at any size, and their body image concerns aren’t necessarily a physical manifestation.
What if all the stressing and obsessing is actually causing more adverse health effects?
For example, stress and sleep play a bigger part in wellness than weight. Pushing yourself through a strenuous workout when your body really needs sleep is actually more detrimental than it is health-promoting. Even thinking about restricting a food or controlling the amount of calories you consume in a day will turn up the desire for more food. Over time, chaotic eating patterns can result in poor gut health and unpleasant GI symptoms. Poor body image is often associated with overall poorer health, because it’s difficult to treat something that you lack compassion for and hate.
So what if being healthier meant you had permission to stop pursuing thinness?
Letting go of the idea that you need to control your food and body doesn’t mean you have given up on your health. In fact, loosening that grip actually allows you to take better care of yourself by shifting the mindset centered around control to one that promotes flexibility.
The word control implies judgement, restriction, rules, and perfectionism. Dieting is wrapped in shame and leaves you feeling bad about yourself. It’s produces anxiety and causes you to miss so many enjoyable experiences.
Anything that compromises your mental stability in the pursuit of health isn’t healthy.
Beyond that, dieting can deprive you of important nutrients that leads to adverse side effects, and forces you to eliminate a variety of food options that you can enjoy.
Flexibility, on the other hand, is adaptive, resilient, and forgiving. Because eating isn’t perfect and our health isn’t static, more flexibility in our food choices allows us to better provide for our body. By tuning into hunger and fullness signals, we can decide for ourselves when and how much we need to eat. Losing the diet mentality allows us to make peace with all foods, and ultimately, reduce shame and guilt. With kindness and forgiveness, we can learn to respect our body and feelings.
It is empowering to be able to trust your body, but this is only possible if we can approach health with our internal wisdom instead of external measures. Through an intuitive eating lens, it is possible to eat in a way that feels good, creates more energy, and improves self-worth.
You deserve freedom, autonomy, and to feel connected to your body.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: BROOKE CAGLE
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Pittsburgh, PA inspiring others to have a healthy relationship with food. Specializing in disordered eating, intuitive eating, and digestive health, Haley’s mission is to show that healthy doesn’t have to be restrictive or defined by how you compare to others. To stay inspired to be your healthiest you, visit Haley at INSPIRD Nutrition.