There are certain beliefs that are instilled in us on what a desirable, healthy body looks like. Learn the simpler truths that the diet industry doesn’t want you to hear.
As humans, we tend to set high expectations for ourselves in certain aspects of our lives. We set expectations for situations we often don’t have much control over, such as how our career path may unfold, or how others may perceive our actions. We set expectations for things we are told we have control over, such as our body size, when in reality, it’s an illusion.
Our bodies are constantly being policed by society.
We are told over and over through subliminal media messaging to be small or fit, and that bodies should never change as we age. In media, it’s portrayed that bodies should be able to lose weight on the spot with exercise and diet. We also shouldn’t eat too much or the world will end!
With arbitrary expectations and external factors attempting to control your food and body size, here is a breath of fresh air on the truth about your body.
1. YOUR BODY IS MEANT TO CHANGE
Body sizes are fluid throughout different stages of life: as we enter young adulthood, child-bearing years, menopause. You aren’t meant to be the same size you were in high school. Your body has adapted to support your current needs, and your body will find the size it needs to be in that moment when you eat intuitively, move with mindfulness, and practice self-care. You can trust your body.
2. YOU NEED MORE CALORIES THAN YOU THINK
Women often feel pressured to micromanage their body size due to society’s unrealistic expectations of what a body should look like. This leads to food restriction, sometimes without even realizing it. Often times, we undereat the number of calories and nutrients we actually need.
Counting calories or tracking macronutrients simply isn’t necessary when you tune into your hunger and fullness cues. Your body has the capacity to tell you when you’ve had enough or when you need more. By taking the focus off calories, our bodies thrive best with some gentle guidance by eating every few hours with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks in between.
3. HAVING FAT ON YOUR BODY IS NORMAL
Despite what the media portrays, having fat on your body is healthful and vital. When women have extremely low body fat, hormones become unbalanced that can severely impact mood and their menstrual cycle. Genetics and other factors determine your body size and how much fat is needed, yet we are told to “lose fat or weight” by manipulating our calories and exercise. While these can work in the short term, it’s not sustainable and will lead to regain – often with more weight than before. Not only does yo-yo dieting lead to weight cycling, but it also leads to anxieties and fear of foods which can spiral into disordered eating and eating disorders.
4. YOUR BODY CAN DO INCREDIBLE THINGS WHEN PROPERLY NOURISHED
Feeding your body and soul with foods that are nourishing will make you feel good. True nourishment comes from eating a variety of food groups, listening to your hunger and fullness cues, eating foods that are satisfying, and taking all judgement away from food. Through nourishment, your sleep, mood, brain function, and activity levels improve.
5. YOU CAN TRUST YOUR BODY
We don’t give our bodies enough credit for what they can do. As we live our lives and do the things we enjoy, our bodies are what keep us alive. They regulate our heart beat, move air through our lungs, filter waste through our kidney: you get the point. Let’s help our bodies function at their best by honoring them.
Remember, always listen to your body, nourish it with satisfying foods, and move in ways that feel good to you.
It deserves your love, care, and most of all, respect.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: KIRA AUF DER HEIDE
Hannah Turnbull, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Columbia, MO helping others build healthy relationships with food through simple delicious recipes and living life in balance. In a world full of food rules and restriction, she helps individuals navigate what works in their everyday lives.