Stop Cleansing and Let Your Body Lead the Way

When is the last time you thought about how many calories you’ve consumed or wondered if you’ve gained weight? A day ago? A week ago? Maybe an hour ago?

I began exploring intuitive eating with my registered dietitian at the beginning of my sophomore year of college after my therapist realized signs of disordered eating. As my RD and I uncovered the reasons why I felt the need to constantly monitor my food intake and weight, I began to understand that it really wasn’t my doing. New cleanses and diets surface every day, with the most recent being ones that are disguised as ways to “take care of your body” and “treat it well.” Ever heard of Paleo dieting, Whole30, or eating gluten-free with no gluten allergy? Yeah, that’s all under the umbrella of the booming diet industry.

The influence of social media then pushes these diets even further into action when we follow people on Instagram that rally for online events like No Sugar Week and post about all the things their meal is “free” of that day. Seriously, has clean eating ever sounded fun to you? These ideas can really take a toll on our minds, as we’re constantly taking in information that’s telling us we need to change our bodies as if they’re not perfect the way they are. It can be hard to ignore for anyone, but what would happen if we just…stopped? Stopped listening to the people on social media and comparing ourselves, deleted My Fitness Pal, and ignored false messages claiming that we’ll lose weight if we put ourselves on just one more cleanse.

Today, I challenge you to put a stop to this behavior and break free of the incredibly misleading diet industry that preys on our insecurities. You are better than this, and your body sure as hell deserves better.

Challenge Your Inner Control Freak

 I don't even remember what this was, I just know it was amazing. 

I don't even remember what this was, I just know it was amazing. 

Look, we all have a little control freak in us…or a lot if you’re like me. But guess what? Quite contrary to our beliefs, WE CANNOT CONTROL OUR BODIES. When we were younger, we ate what our parents fed us and went about our days, not even thinking about what it was beyond if it was tasty or not. Our bodies had and will always have one job: to regulate our systems to the best of its ability. Let's compare the idea of controlling our bodies to that one coworker who can’t stop hovering over you, asking if you need help with anything and even when you say no, taking some of you work from you anyway. Yeah, that’s what you’re doing to your body when you obsess over it too much.

The first step in listening to your body and letting go of the diet mentality is to let go of your need to control. Often, there’s an underlying reason why we feel the need to monitor every single thing we do to our bodies. In my case, I’ve had an anxiety disorder from a very young age. When something external happened that was outside of my control, instead of fixating on that event, I would direct my attention to something I thought I could control: my body. Weighing myself every morning, steering myself away from carbs, and running two and a half miles every morning were all ways to find a sense of control in my life through my body when I felt as if I had none in other areas of my life.

 Delicious curry chicken risotto I enjoyed in Crete along with a wonderful drink called Pretty in Pink.

Delicious curry chicken risotto I enjoyed in Crete along with a wonderful drink called Pretty in Pink.

It's hard to face the fact that we are not in control of everything in our lives, but taking it out on our bodies will only make us more miserable. The more you release control, the easier it will be to find a greater sense of balance that doesn’t include the “perfect” pants size. Trust me, you will be happier.

Intuitively Eat Your Heart Out

There’s this miraculous way of life called intuitive eating that changed my attitude towards food and my body for the better. Intuitive eating is the idea of listening to cues from your body for what it wants and then simply following through with what it requests. Going from constant control over what we think is best for our bodies to actually listening to what they want is a challenge, but practice makes perfect y’all and this is a practice that is worth investing your time in.

Transition from thinking you know what your body needs to understanding what it wants. When I first started out, I would ask myself questions like:

  • Are you low on energy?
  • If you could pick one food, what would you love to eat right now?
  • What are you craving?

There’s a common misconception that if we give into our desires and cravings, we will keep eating them over and over again. Newsflash: that totally doesn’t happen unless you’re in the process of undoing a restrictive eating behavior like I had been experiencing. Most times, when we satisfy our cravings, our bodies say, “yo, that was delicious,” and moves on to the next thing it feels like it needs to regulate our systems. Do not be afraid of your cravings. Your body is asking for that food for a reason. By intuitively eating, your body can easily regulate itself and function at an optimal level, without unnecessary input from you and other external forces.

I’ll leave you with this…

It’s been a long road to body positivity for me, and I understand that it takes a ton of work to undo years of false information on what we should be putting into our bodies given to us by the diet industry. The thing is, the diet industry’s sole mission is to make money off people who believe anything they say. To hell with if the information is actually correct. Let’s fight back and make it our sole mission find peace of mind and body, one intuitive meal at a time.

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