Are you in a love/hate relationship with food? Do you feel like you have to sacrifice something you love just to be comfortable in your own skin? If you are, then you are not alone. There are so many men and women out there stuck in cycles of weight gain and weight loss because of diet culture and the consequences of depriving their bodies from what they need.
That was me before I decided to face the problem head on, which is how I rebuilt my relationship with myself and with food. After years of diets, deprivation and yo-yoing, I feel like I’ve finally landed in a place where I can eat what I want, when I want and be happy with what I’ve been blessed with. And I am certain you can too.
My demons of dieting and deprivation.
Being such a big foodie, I had always battled between eating everything I wanted and looking good. It was pretty unhealthy (mentally and physically) because I would go through periods of starving myself and eating next to nothing just to lose a few pounds. Then as soon as I reached my goal weight, id uncontrollably eat anything I could and guess what… I put all the weight back on and found myself back where I started. I remember trying to fast forward to my life 10 years on and thinking, ‘Am I just going to carry on like this forever?’
The biggest problem with dieting is that when you finish, your eating habits don’t go back to normal. When you deprive yourself and your body of nutrients, you are guaranteed to eat more than you normally would. Our bodies are built to conserve energy in the form of fat, and it’s against every survival instinct within us to lose weight. That is why most of us gain it back quickly soon after we lose it. Our bodies do everything in their power to save up energy for a rainy day.
So, what did I do?
The 3 steps to ditching diet culture and finding inner happiness...
Step 1: Freedom
When you give yourself the freedom to eat what you want and when you want it, everything becomes clearer. You can feel your hunger cues better.
I decided I was never going to deprive myself of anything ever again. No more calorie counting, or keto or intermittent fasting. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. I did go on a rampage for a bit. But honestly, it didn’t last very long! After a while I started to listen to my own body and just stop when I felt like I was done. What’s funny is that I naturally started incorporating principles from the diets I’d previously done, without even thinking about it.
For example, I rejected the ketogenic diet but I made sure I ate a good source of protein with every meal because it made me feel full and reduced my cravings. But I still added some rice, pasta or any carb if that’s what I wanted! I also banished calorie counting, but by listening to my body and distinguishing between real hunger and my emotions/ boredom, I was able to naturally reduce my calorie intake. And, although I stopped intermittent fasting, I listened to my body and if I wasn’t hungry until lunch time then no breakfast it was. The point is that I never once felt like I was doing anything I didn’t want to. When you impose rules on yourself, you are bound to break them and that’s why dieting is so detrimental.
Step 2: Self-love
Depriving yourself of nutrients and happiness is far from self-love.
Secondly, I learnt to love myself. I think this sometimes comes with age, but it’s so important. When you love your body for everything it is, then you stop obsessing about food so much. I used to try and avoid social events that involved food because I knew I couldn’t resist it, and id end up eating 10x more than anyone else, and then hating myself afterwards. Accepting that you will love your body at any size, eases the pressure you have put on yourself and normally works better as a weight management strategy in the long run (less of that emotional eating cycle because you hate yourself). Don’t get me wrong- I still emotionally eat every now and then but it’s not that often and I never beat myself up about it. I don’t deprive myself after. If you love yourself then you will start to do things that leave you feeling fulfilled, rather than feeling deprived. For example, instead of exercising as punishment, you go for a walk or run because it makes you feel good.
Step 3: Gratitude
Remember to appreciate what you DO have and what your body is capable of.
Be grateful for what you have been blessed with. Celebrate other women’s bodies, don’t compare yourself to them. Comparison really is the thief of joy. Accept that your body shape cannot change so why not just be grateful and learn to appreciate your body for what it can do? And honestly, I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than imperfection, which I’ve come to realise as I’ve got older. You might not see it on yourself, but have you ever thought about how much you love the imperfections on your loved ones?
I can now finally say I am the happiest I’ve ever been with my own body and I eat WHATEVER I want, WHENEVER I want it. If I can do it, so can you. All you need to do is ditch diet culture and love yourself no matter what.
It sounds daunting I know, but if you work on giving yourself the freedom to enjoy all foods, while being grateful for what god gave you, you will begin to love yourself enough to enjoy the good things in life. This isn’t easy of course, and I’m still working on it myself every day, but you will soon see that when inner happiness comes, the outside soon follows.
If you need help on your journey then I am always here. Leave me a comment or contact me directly through my website, Instagram or email!
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Lots of love,