Does it ever feel like traditional nutrition advice is a little old school? That the recommendation of drink more water, eat more vegetables and cut down on fat is just not speaking to you anymore?
Sure, it can comforting to hear the same healthy eating messages but if you find yourself unable to follow the same ‘ole “eat your vegetables” advice, you are not alone. These unpersonalised, cheery bits of advice usually talk about what you “should be doing” and don’t get into the nitty gritty of why you aren’t already doing it. Feeling defeated in the face of seemingly easy to follow advice, such as eat more vegetable, eat smaller portions, don’t eat when you aren’t hungry does little to motivate us to actually try to change. In today’s post, I will talk about the little-known motivator that can do wonders to boost healthy eating without feeling like you are pulling teeth.
How we view our body affects our eating and lifestyle
It may seem a bit odd that a dietitian/nutritionist is speaking of body acceptance or body positivity, but as much as I have tried to avoid it, this topic really seems to be at the root of the problem for many of my clients. I admit that diving into the world of self-esteem and body positivity has been scary but oh-so-necessary. Since the majority of my clients are asking for help to lose weight, it has become an unavoidable topic. Hating your body or feeling uncomfortable in it can really affect how, what, and how much we eat. And likely not in the way we traditionally thought.
Our body weight is meant to fluctuate over our lifetime, for many reasons. So aiming to keep a stable weight is unrealistic and causes my clients to panic when it eventually does change. This panic usually leads my clients down the dark path of diets, avoiding the foods they enjoy, feeling hungry and never feeling like they are eating good enough.
Weight loss takes time (if it happens at all) but feeling better doesn’t have to
The desire to lose weight is often accompanied by reasons like “to feel better”, “to have more energy”, “so my clothes fit better” and “to feel lighter”. The problem is that weight loss, even when it is happening at a fast pace, can seem slow. Even if you are able to eat a small amount of calories and exercise your tush off, the results likely can’t seem fast enough. So waiting for weight to decrease to feel “better”, “sexier”, “lighter” can seem like an eternity and slowly loose its ability to motivate you to eat so little and move so much.
BUT there is hope! There are many ways in which we can feel “better”, “more confident”, even “lighter” without having to wait for your weight to change. In fact, feeling better in our bodies can be extremely helpful when tackling food and habit changes. It may be hard to imagine, especially if you are wrapped up tightly in the notion that weight change will solve all your problems, but I guarantee that feeling better right now, in the body you currently have, IS POSSIBLE.
How to move from body hate to acceptance
Learning how to feel comfortable and acknowledge the positive aspects of our current body does not encourage weight gain or out of control eating. In fact, many studies have shown the complete opposite (1, 2). Understanding how amazing our bodies can be no matter what we weigh can help to reduce weight yoyoing and the roller coaster of emotion that comes with it, not to mention the health issues that arise with a fluctuating weight. It turns out, much of the research is pointing to weight yoyoing as the potential cause of health issues- not weight itself (1, 2).
Accepting your body, where it is right now, is not easy. Certainly, the seduction of meal plans and food restrictions can feel like the easier choice, however, these methods have many dire consequences on our mental and physical health. It may take a bit more practice and trust in your body for you to move away from body hate to being more neutral of your body- but boy it is worth it!
Having tangible exercises to practice body acceptance is integral to improving it. Here is a list you can download for free!
If you are looking for more science behind Health at Every Size (TM) and the risks of weight cycling, visit the Association for Size Diversity and Health’s website