Rules are often a consequence of what we are repeatedly exposed to. Let’s take a closer look at how your food rules may be controlling your life.
BY: LIZ BRINKMAN, RD
Are you tired of playing by the rules?
Not the rules that are meant to keep us safe and out of peril, but the so-called “health” rules that we’ve been conditioned to believe around our bodies and food.
These rules that just don’t seem like they are out to guide and protect. Let me give you some examples:
- A healthy meal must have a lean protein and a non-starchy vegetable.
- Only lazy parents go through McDonald’s.
- If I’m not following a diet, I’ve given up on myself.
- In order for a workout to “count”, it must be punishing.
Sadly, these old rules are so well-written and strongly believed that they re-write themselves with each generation.
They sound like The Truth.
They’re sneaky and take on various shapes and sizes, so it got me wondering: who actually wrote these rules?
So often, these rules are written by a few, but dispersed by so many: family, friends, community members, teachers, influencers and more.
These rules wrap around you like a tight binding. In an effort to cover your worst parts, unintentionally sheathing you from being your very best.
Over time, these rules are woven into the fabric of your very being. You can’t tell where the rules begin and end. And it wasn’t your hand that made this weaving.
It wasn’t one hand, but many.
No permission was asked for or given. And the working of the loom never seems to rest or have an end.
So how do you find a place where these rules don’t exist? How do you erase and rewrite the rules?
Maybe it’s not realistic to decide one day that you’re going to rewrite the rules; rather, it starts with a subtly frayed edge.
That little, loose thread that catches your eye and creates a quick distracting thought:
“Hmm, something isn’t quite right.”
At first, you may want to do something about that out-of-place string. You may snip it off, tuck it in, or ignore it. But like every good problem, it continues to reappear.
You start to ask: what would it be like to pull at a loose thread on this tightly woven work? To let it unravel to the very end? To the knot that anchors it all?
You may question yourself if you’re brave enough (or desperate enough) to pull on the loose threads to destroy the tapestry you thought was “you”, and have what it takes to weave it into something new.
But that unraveling from the rules may be necessary to allow you to return to a place you once knew: your true self. And when you do, you begin to:
- Toss out the rules because you see them for what they are: constraints that keep you preoccupied and fearful.
- Tune into to your hunger cues and honor your needs.
- Choose movement based on joy: Walk and bike with your children, hike with your spouse, stretch on your bedroom floor, and dance in the kitchen.
- Keep your cool when the kids are being kids, say a major prayer, lower your standards, and hire a sitter (or turn on Netflix).
- Choose a cup of tea instead of pouring that first, second, third, or fourth glass of wine at night.
- Sleep better, worry less, and stay in the present moment more.
- Live from a place of abundance, instead of shame and lack.
You may not do it perfectly every day, but doing it perfectly every day isn’t a rule you abide by anymore. Instead, you know that you must unravel that frayed strand,
And reweave your life.
Adapted from the original post.
HEADER IMAGE: YULIA KHLEBNIKOVA
Liz Brinkman, RD is a private practice dietitian who runs a Phoenix-based nutrition practice, through which she sees clients both locally and virtually. Specializing in Intuitive Eating and eating disorder recovery, Liz’s mission is to empower women to find healing and hope as they navigate the chaos of diet culture, and reconnect with the answers they already have within. When she’s not working, you can find Liz at her dining room table surrounded by family, neighbors and friends. Whether playing Uno, helping with homework, or sharing a meal, her hope is that people push back from the table feeling more restored, anchored, and accepted than when they sat down. Learn more and connect with Liz at Liz Brinkman Nutrition.