The subtitle to this first chapter should really read: Rejecting diet mentality and any other cultural normalizing that has you measure yourself by a standard that isn’t personal to you. But alas, that is a little too long.
Let me really begin here by saying welcome to the first of a series that will appear each week called Learning How to Trust Ourselves. Over the next 10 weeks I will share a weekly blog post that centers around the principles of Intuitive Eating, but will most assuredly speak to so much more. The entire point of this series is to encourage, motivate and inspire you to really consider that the number one most important thing you can actually work on when it comes to loving yourself and all that encompasses you more, is learning to trust yourself more.
The reality is that all of us want to love ourselves more, but very few of us actually know how to trust ourselves. And trust is imperative for two major reasons: one, when we trust ourselves, like really trust ourselves we are no longer trying to control ourselves. Control is one of the most common reasons for things like disordered eating, movement and obsession. Because life itself is so wildly unpredictable, our human brains really love it when it can latch onto something that can take the sting out of the unknown and give us the illusion that we are in control. And the reality is that you cannot be trying to control something and simultaneously trust it, so when we really go to work on learning how to trust, we ultimately have to also face the fact that we must give up control at the same time.
The second reason that trust is imperative is because while we may have the ultimate goal to love ourselves more and therefore love our lives more, wholehearted love cannot exist without at least a large percentage of trust being present. I do not want to walk us down the road of absolutism and say that it must be 100% trust all the time, because the reality is that even the healthiest relationships can waiver in trust. I do not wish to create unrealistic expectations here, nor do I want to promote perfectionism. However, I do want to plant the seed that what we can work towards is a more trusting relationship with ourselves which will therefore lead us down the path of a more wholehearted self love.
And so we address the first “how” of all of this which is to Reject Diet Mentality. What is Diet Mentality? It is the constant narrative that gets thrown at us and perhaps we have taken on that our bodies need to be improved in aesthetic. It is the mentality and narrative that in order to be healthy, you have to be a certain size, shape, BMI and weight. It is the magical thinking that keeps us picking up specific diet after diet and keeps us in the belief that "this time it's gonna work".
As I said in the very first paragraph, diet mentality is essentially only one area of focus here. Feel free to substitute any other mentality that is more personal to you from here on out, but also, honing in on diet mentality is so helpful because it really reflects so much of our culture narrative that keeps us in the belief that we need to be more and better than we are. It is a breeding ground for anti-trust within ourselves.
Here are some of the ways that you may have been affected by diet mentality:
So the first thing we need to do in reject diet mentality is recognizing that we have it and it is affecting our daily lives. We have to recognize that we are dieting. And this is where I share the unfortunate truth that there is no such thing as a healthy diet. Here me on this, please. I am not saying that there is no such thing as healthy eating, or healthy and nutrient dense food. Of course there is. But when it comes to restrictions and rules around food, unless there is a good medical reason for not eating it, there is no such thing as a healthy diet. I don’t care if you are talking about Keto, DASH, Weight Watchers and even Whole30 (this one was even admittedly hard for me). I don’t care if it is made popular by a celebrity or directed by a wellness influencer on instagram. A diet is a diet is a diet is a diet and the entire point of it all is to make yourself submissive to rules and regulations that keep you listening and adhering to strict rules as created by someone else, rather than your own internal desires and personal physiological cues.
I know this is going to be controversial for many many people. I know that it may be hard to hear. Please know that I am not trying to be divisive at all and I am certainly not telling you to reject the foods that you love to eat themselves. Quite the opposite actually. What I am talking about is the actual mentality that these diets generate within ourselves and the disconnection they create with our bodies, our bellies and our minds and hearts. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t like eating meat and you love to cook vegan meals that you should stop doing that. The entire point is to actually do what you love and recognize that nourishment in terms of food comes in many different ways, including the pleasure we get from eating. If you love veganism but every once in a while find yourself craving real ice cream, or cheese, why would you not eat it? Really think about it. Perhaps you think that if you do partake, you will all of a sudden fall off the invisible wagon you created for yourself. If that is the case then I would say with the utmost love, that is a disordered eating and diet culture mindset and the veganism is perhaps masking it. And we want to dismantle that because when we are living in a rabbit hole of constantly dwelling on our food and our bodies, or creating stress around what we eat and don't eat, we end up spending a ton of our energy and life force that could be used for so many other, more interesting things. As Glennon Doyle said in one of her recent podcasts, there is an opportunity cost that comes with this kind of thinking because you are spending your one precious life obsessing over food and body when it could be used for so many more wildly creative and fantastic things. And it’s not that your body isn’t wildly fantastic, but YOU are so much more than a body.
So this first step is imperative. It is vital. And it is hard. It is hard because it is insidious in our culture and it is almost everywhere we look. And it’s ok for it to take time and to be imperfect at it for as long as you need to be. The good news is that you do not have to get it down perfectly in order to move forward, you simply have to begin to do the work of recognizing when diet mentality is living within you and gently and lovingly tell yourself you aren’t doing that anymore. You get to be kind to yourself while you take it apart. And if you have to do it 100 times in a day, it’s ok. I believe in you and I know that when you really begin this first step, you are on your way to really learning to trust yourself.
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is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.