if diets/food control aren’t the answer...
Thursday, January 18, 2018
With regard to my binge eating disorder, I was looking for a way to "fix" the way I was eating. It's abundantly clear that diets and food control aren't the answer. But then I had to ask the question, "What IS the answer?" What I learned was (and once again Isabel Foxen Duke taught me this) is:
"What "works" is developing body acceptance and authentic connection with ourselves and our desires, without having to subscribe to what other people tell us to do with our own bodies.
What "works" is radical acceptance of ourselves, our bodies, our food, our circumstances…without needing these things to look a certain way, or satisfy cultural mandates that are designed to oppress us.
Intuitive Eating offers some important tools for self-connection in the realm of food and eating (a helpful read, particularly for those overwhelmed by the idea of "not dieting"), but ultimately—body acceptance and the excavation of diet mentality is equally if not more important to the healing process than any particular "way" of eating ever could be in the long run.
In other words, eliminating diet-mentality (what doesn't work) IS the answer."
And this answer made so much sense for me. Intuitive Eating (the book & workbook) was able to thrust me out of that binge-eating mentality, especially because the idea of not dieting overwhelmed me, but it was body acceptance and working my way out of diet mentality that has been the most critical for me. It is not any particular way of eating that is a set solution for me. It is coming to truly accept myself, my body, my food, and my circumstances and not getting judgmental about it when it doesn't look like society expects it to (cutting out all carbs and starving yourself for 13 hours at a time--intermittent fasting--is all the rage right now, but I don't need my life or my food to look like that because I know that's just an invitation to bingeyland at some point). Putting diet mentality behind me and opening the doors to positive body image and acceptance has changed so many things in my life. Instead of focusing on behaviours, what I should or shouldn't do with food, which almost always leads to failure, I'm now focusing on changing my attitudes around food and weight. By shifting my ideologies towards body positivity and weight neutrality, I find I DO know how to behave with food without any of the restrictions or dieting behaviours or mentalities that landed me in this mess in the first place. I realize I need to trust myself around food and trust my body and not put judgments on my body based on my eating. Stop qualifying "good" or "bad" eating days and in essence totally stop fighting food. I had thought that to some extent I had to control my food in order to return my body to its "natural" state, but there is nothing to control. I had all these ideas about measuring and tracking and planning my food and qualifying things. I still felt like I couldn't really trust my body to make its own decisions. I thought that there had to be a certain plan that was "correct" and "worked" and that if I just got it right, then I'd see the results I wanted to see on the scale. But that's just more diet mentality. In reality, I CAN trust my body and don't need a scale to measure if I'm doing things right or not. The answer for me was in accepting myself and my body and really accepting my food instead of trying to control it all the time. From this point I can really start to dismantle the diet mentality and find myself actually moving forward because instead of coming from a place of being weight motivated, I'm coming from a place of weight neutrality and body acceptance.