Five years ago, I found myself standing by the sweet potatoes in the grocery store, having a very public, full-on shame session about whether I should buy one or not.
I picked up the sweet potato. "No, it's a starch." I put the sweet potato back.
"But my body needs carbohydrates." I picked up the sweet potato again. Anxiety swept through my body. "I shouldn't. What if it makes my stomach worse?" I put the sweet potato back.
This carried on for the longest minute of my life, picking it up and putting it back down again and again, until I finally walked away with no sweet potato in hand, feeling crazy, ashamed, embarrassed, and still hungry for some dang sweet potato fries.
Have you ever experienced that? The constant chatter of "shoulds" and "should nots," “good” and “bad,” running through your mind about food? It's exhausting, and believe me, you aren't alone. There is so much confusing and contradictory information in the world that something as fundamental as eating for nourishment and pleasure has turned into a morality issue. How amazing would it be if you truly enjoyed food without judgment, AND used it to nourish and respect your body?
If you want to move away from the chatter of diet rules, the first step is to listen. Listen to your whole body. No judgement or mean girl/guy commentary. Tune in to your energy levels, brain function, satisfaction, happiness, muscles, joints, and other qualities. How does your tummy feel? Fun fact: the gut is referred to as the “mother of the body,” because it communicates with every major system in the body, including the brain, so it definitely has some wisdom to share.
Listening to your body, along with the symptoms and emotions you feel, are part of your inner guidance. It’s part of learning to trust yourself; trusting your body knows best and is communicating with you. So, grab your journal and let’s put this to practice.
Write down the beliefs or diet rules you have around food. (This doesn’t include ones that are medically necessary such as avoiding peanuts because of an allergy.)
How do these beliefs or rules help you? How do they hinder you?
What would it be like if you listened to the wisdom of your body and learned how to trust its messages around food? How would that feel?
What would you have to let go of to allow this to happen?
Then, choose one diet rule or belief from the list, and practice letting go of it and listening to your body. For example, maybe one of your beliefs is that eating fat is bad. You could practice letting go of that belief by giving yourself permission to eat an apple with some peanut or almond butter on it, or finding other ways to incorporate fat on a daily basis. Start small, listen, and build trust.
I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email: what is your biggest struggle around food rules or the diet mentality? I’d love to know so I can create more content to help you let go of those beliefs and food rules, and start trusting yourself.
If you felt this blog was helpful or know someone who would benefit from it, please like it and share it.
With love, Steph