All posts by Isabel

A note about Intuitive Eating & “Health”

Let it be known, that choosing not to eat something that makes you feel physically unwell in no way conflicts with the non-diet approach.

In fact, this is what traditional descriptions of Intuitive Eating are all about…listening to how your body feels physically, and consideringits needs in your decision making process around food.

If there’s any confusion about this, read this book.

That being said,

“considering” my body’s needs is the operative word here.

As a practical matter, if I choose to eat something “unhealthy” (e.g. my desire to eat something my body doesn’t love outweighs the consequence of not feeling so hot later), it is fully within my right to make that decision.

My mental health and liberation require that I be empowered to make such decisions for myself, because—while diet culture tells us that our life’s “success” or “failure” with food depends exclusively on our BMI, waistline, or our physical health status

I choose to consider my holistic needs,

the complexity of my human experience,
my emotional state,
my desire for soothing,
my pleasure, my fun, my celebration,
my schedule,
my stress relief,
my demands at work and at home,
the physical and emotional resources available to me in any given moment,
which can never be compared to those of anyone else,

right next to my desire for “physical health,” however that may be defined.

And I know what you’re going to say… “but I shouldn’t get my pleasure or soothing from food—I should go to therapy or write in my journal instead!”

To which I say…therapy and journaling are great ways to pursue self-care! Give yourself what you need girl!

AND let’s acknowledge that we don’t live in a perfect world with every self-care option available to us at every moment, nor are our emotional circumstances so one-dimensional that journaling will always feel like an equal substitute to a bowl of ice cream and an episode of Friends.  

Sometimes a bowl of ice cream will be the best that we can do—it all depends on our personal circumstances, complex emotional needs, and what feels most holistically nourishing to us given the resources we have available to us in a particular moment in time.

Trying to “gain control” of your food? Roll with the punches instead.

There is a myth that overcoming binge-eating is about “gaining control,” 
or that being “out of control” is the problem to be solved. 

This myth encourages people to grasp for control in any way they can think of—
restricting, dieting, trying the new this or the new that; 
anything that affords us the illusion of certainty,
the illusion of
“this time I’ve got it,”
the illusion of
“this time things will go my way.”

But this way of thinking about food is a trap; 

when things inevitably don’t go our way,
when something unforeseen or out of our control
hits us in the face and affects our food,
we binge—
unwilling or not knowing how
to roll with the punches.

Considering the wide array of factors that affect our eating,
(things like instincts, hormones, emotions, environmental triggers)
it’s safe to say that full control over our food is unlikely. 

But we can learn to roll with the punches. 

Overcoming binge-eating is not about “gaining control,”
but about being able to work with and adapt to 
our fundamental out-of-control-ness.

The Chinese Finger Trap

Sometimes, we’re just “in it,”

that place where no matter what we hear, read or do,
we just can’t seem to talk ourselves down from “feeling crazy,”
around food, around body-image, or whatever the case may be.

Anxiety, neurosis, or plain old desperation to escape—takes over,

and it feels impossible to accept, 
impossible to be present,  
impossible to let go.

We’re “in it”
and in this moment,
we can’t seem to see the forest through the trees.

Our natural instinct in these moments, is to fight harderto pull even more tightly on the Chinese Finger Trap—getting more and more stuck the more desperately we try to escape our discomfort. 

But there is another option—the highly counter-intuitive option—of fully owning and being with whatever experience you’re going through today,

Like, “Yup, I’m in it!”

“Yup, today is hard with food!”
“Yup, today I’m struggling with body image!”
“Yup, today I’m eating my feelings!”

And remind ourselves, that being “in it,” sometimes happens to humans. 

It will pass when it passes. Take a breath, and try not to pull the Chinese Finger Trap. 

resistance

What we really need to “resist” (when making decisions about food…)

resistanceIt’s easy to stop dieting for a moment—and harder to stop dieting for a string of moments in a row.

Since we know based on a ton of research, that binge-eating is an almost inevitable reaction to restriction (or diet mentality),

a critical step in maintaining our “sanity” around food, is resisting the impulse to go back to dietingthat is, resisting the impulse to go back to “phase one” of the diet-binge cycle—in the moments when life feels messy. 

When you think you’ve “slipped”
or “eaten too much”
or gained weight,
or you “feel fat,”
or your mother comments on your food,
or you start dating someone new,

can you navigate triggering situations and emotions—like fear, insecurity, or self-doubt—without desperately grasping for the next diet, or another attempt at control? 

Too often we forget that dieting itself is a coping mechanism—perhaps just as much a coping mechanism (or more so) than emotional eating—although we don’t often acknowledge it as such, because we mistakenly think the eating is our core problem, despite clear evidence that dieting lies at its root.

Once we understand that binge-eating starts with restriction, we quickly realize that the hard part of overcoming this issue, is resisting the pull of diets or restrictions themselves—that dieting is the real “addiction” to break. 

Want to stop diet-binge cycling for good? Start with these videos.