While writing this blog I wanted to make it educational so hopefully, it can help someone struggling or encourage someone to get curious about what diet culture is and how it is affecting people. One of my biggest goals while using this platform is to never shame or put anyone down but to educate, encourage and offer a new way to look at things.
I was running errands with my son this morning and we drive past a gym with a giant billboard that reads "summer bodies are made here". A while later I hop on my emails to read one that tells me how I need to cleanse regularly. This evening I was in the checkout at the grocery store and the cashier is having a conversation with the woman in front of me about "clean eating". They go on to discuss how it's great that she is on day one of "eating clean" because most people can't do it. I wait patiently with my combo pizza, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.
This is all an example of diet culture and a great example of what is very wrong with how we view well-being. A good friend of mine told me recently that she was about to sign up for a yoga retreat when the owner let her know it probably wasn't the best idea because "yoga is difficult for people with larger bodies". Could you even imagine?
Diet culture surrounds us everywhere. Starting a new diet, beginning a new workout program, going on a cleanse, it can all seem harmless enough however there are a lot of negative side effects that come along with it. I could share the research, I could offer the scientific data, I could show you study after study but I think whats more important is to really take a look at how these approaches make us feel about our worth. What happens when my son grows up reading billboards everywhere telling him he needs to change his body because summer is coming? What happens to the woman beginning her clean eating journey because she thinks she needs to change something about herself when research shows there's only a 4% chance she'll be able to stick to it? How would you feel if you were told you probably shouldn't do something because someone had a bias against body shape and size?
I work with clients who are in recovery from eating disorders. Diet culture plays into their eating disorder on a daily basis. So what does that look like? It looks like isolation, a living hell and treatment costing up to $30k a month. It looks like time away from their family, lost friendships and being constantly preoccupied with thoughts about food, body and weight. It looks like shame, exhaustion and a constant battle against diet culture. Those in recovery are the bravest and strongest people I know. They're fighting an eating disorder in a culture that very much normalizes disordered eating.
It took me a long time to take an honest look at myself and my actions to see how I was playing in to diet culture. Luckily I was able to get curious and make changes that supported a more accepting approach that promoted individual well-being and diversity.The thing about diet culture is It's tricky, it's sneaky and it's created by us. Some of us may not even know we are playing into it and that's the reason I encourage you to get curious. Challenge your beliefs, your bias's and your approaches.
I think one of the most important things to remember is that it's not black and white. There is room for veggies and quinoa and pizza and cake. There is room for movement and rest. There is room for large bodies, small bodies, short bodies, tall bodies and every body in between. A lot of times this makes people uncomfortable. It isn't sexy. It doesn't sell. It doesn't fit into a clean box. You can't wrap it up in a pretty marketing strategy and make $60 billion off of it. That's a tough sale.
But know this, the more we get curious, honest and real about what diet culture is the more we can fight it. The more we can educate, stand up to it and challenge it, the more likely someone can gain their life back.
If you are struggling know that you are not alone. Reaching out for help can be the bravest thing you can do. If you are open enough to get curious about your approach, beliefs and bias's my hat is off to you because that can be scary.
Below are great resources
As always, I'm rooting for you,
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*It is important to take note If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder or specific health condition it is important to work with an experienced health professional to see if IE is right for you and get the support you need.
I recently wrote a post about what Intuitive Eating is. If you're new to the term I suggest you start over there first. For everyone else, I want to chat about IE and who it is good for and also answer some common questions. In simple terms......Intuitive eating can be beneficial for everyone . Continue reading to find out more
Intuitive eating is for you if
I'm not happy with my size, can I lose weight before I try Intuitive Eating concepts?
Unfortunately we are taught (incorrectly) that weight loss= health. This is a very common misunderstanding and one that might take a bit to switch your mindset. The need for weight loss is very much due to diet culture and diet mentality, the very thing intuitive eating is helping us get away from. We have been so conditioned to think small= healthy when in reality it should be our habits and actions that we are focused on. Health At Every Size is a research based movement that can be a great resource to learn more at. I would also like to challenge you with the question of how will you lose weight? Will it be by going on another diet? Cutting our specific food groups? Counting calories, macros or points? Have you been able to maintain your results from this in the past? 95% of diets do not work and those that lose weight will gain it back (if not more) withing a few years. Why not get off that cycle and try something that is forever?
Won't I go crazy if I am allowed to eat anything I want?
Most people think that if they can truly eat anything they want it will be a free for all and they will eat forbidden foods the rest of their life. When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat anything we will find our bodies crave balance. When we can have whatever we want whenever we want it food loses its power. This is called the habituation effect. To simplify it, it's like when you buy a new pair of shoes and you just LOVE them. You begin to wear them everyday and eventually they just become a regular old pair of shoes. Our "bad" or "off limit" foods haven't had the chance to become ordinary to us. When food is truly seen as just food and not something good or bad we are able to have it to satisfy us and stop when we are satisfied.
Is Intuitive Eating Anti- Health?
Intuitive Eating is all about health, well-being, honoring your body and being kind to ourselves. IE teaches us to trust our bodies and build and healthy and nurturing relationship with them. Diet culture often teach us that if we are not focused on weight loss than we are not focused on healthy living. This is simply not true. Intuitive Eating supports nourishing foods that honor your unique body and needs. It encourages movement that you enjoy doing and feels good on your body. You can learn more about the principles here
I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave a comment.
I'm rooting for you
Intuitive eating is the complete opposite of dieting......and when most people hear that their internal panic meter rises. However, intuitive eating can be beneficial to anyone and there are a lot of health benefits that come with it. When I work with clients and groups on intuitive eating I like to describe it as writing with your non dominate hand. It's awkward, uncomfortable and takes work to get comfortable. The same applies to IE, it's usually the complete opposite of what we've been told to do over our lifetime but it's an ability we were all born with.
What is intuitive eating?
IE (or intuitive eating) is listening and honoring our bodies needs and wants. It's listening to and trusting our bodies cues and giving our body what it needs. It has nothing to do with meal plans, will power or a specific diet to follow. IE is a non diet approach that helps individuals break the chronic diet cycle and build a healthy relationship with food and their body. It is taking into consideration that each person is unique and needs and craves different things.
The 10 principles
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Take a look back at all the diets you have tried over your lifespan. Have they worked (and by worked I mean been able to be maintained for a lifetime and given you freedom, health and nourishment)? For 95-97% of people the answer is no. Diet culture is everywhere. It can be found in our desire to cut out certain food groups, weigh and measure things, letting the scale dictate our health and so much more. Diet culture is everywhere we look and you have every right to challenge these things and be an advocate for yourself.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Keep your body nourished and listen to your hunger cues. Opposed to going off of a serving size, meal plan or calorie count, listen to your body and its hunger cues.
3. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Allow all foods in your diet. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. Once we begin labeling foods they begin to become off limits. And what do we want when we can't have something? You know the drill. When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat our bodies want balance and nourishment. All foods can have a place in your life.
4. Challenge the Food Police .
Challenge your thoughts that tell you you're "good" for eating something or "bad" for doing something else. This is #dietculture These are the types of thoughts that cause shame, anxiety and unhealthy thoughts/behaviors around food.
5. Respect Your Fullness
Tune in to your body and notice if you are full. Respect your bodies fullness cues. This takes mindfulness practice and being aware of how your body is feeling as you're eating. You can practice this by pausing throughout your meal and checking in with your body.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Choose foods that satisfy you. Before you eat check in with yourself and see what your body is craving. Something sweet? savory? hot? cold? listen to your body and allow yourself to have what you want.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
How can you comfort yourself without using food? Sometimes this means feeling your emotions instead of avoiding them. Sometimes we need to journal, connect with a friend, go for a walk or a different activity that brings us comfort in a time of need.
8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint.
As humans we love to compare. It is part of our nature. It is important that we respect our body and respect who we are though. Our bodies have this amazing ability to keep us at a size and weight where we perform and function best. When we dictate that through extreme dieting we are robbing our bodies of doing the job they know how to do best.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
I love to call this joyful movement. Find things that you love doing (and this might be different everyday). Move in a way that you enjoy and feels good for your body. This might be yoga, running, dancing, swimming, lifting weights among a lot of other things. And it's OKAY for this to look different every day.
10 Honor Your Health–
Make choices that honor your health, values and also your tastebuds. No need to be perfect. Consider how certain foods make you feel. Find foods that honor your health and nourish your body.
Over 60 research studies have been done that have shown IE leads to
Resources to get started
These two books are great resources to get started
Health at Every Size
Additionally I have ongoing groups throughout the year based around Intuitive Eating as well as resources through social media.
Any anxiety sufferers out there? Whether its mild or extreme anxiety is something that affects many of us. The thing about anxiety is that when we are in the midst of stress, panic and anxiousness we aren't in our right mind and able to make logical decisions. It's actually been studied and shown that anxiety disrupts our decision making process. When we are in the midst of anxiety our prefrontal cortex is disrupted which plays a huge role in regulating emotions and problem solving. It's no wonder we don't remember to breath calmly and logically talk our way down from shear panic.
I wanted to share some tips that have helped me, clients and many others manage their anxiety and live a life a little more free.
1. Don't wait for anxiety to kick in
One of the most common mistakes is having a ton of tools to use but only using them in panic situations (aka major anxiety event). The best way to manage anxiety is to practice the skills I am going to share with you on a regular basis. It's sort of like having crummy vision. It's important to wear your glasses everyday. They are your tool to help you function better. If you don't wear them things might be a bit difficult. Anxiety is like your crummy vision and the tips I'm going to share with you are your glasses that you should put on every day.
Yoga is a great way to A. calm down and B. get in touch with your body. For many, if they have never practiced yoga before it can seem slow and some might even say boring. However, this is when it is so important to develop a practice. I use to do it for the 'workout' and just couldn't bring myself to find a consistent practice. Now I do it for my well being and find myself craving it daily. Being able to feel grounded, focus on your breath and move your body allows you to be present and mindful about how your body is feeling.
Mindfulness can happen in any part of your daily life. Think driving to work, brushing your teeth, walking outside or anywhere in between. It consist of being aware of one's thoughts, emotions and present experiences, without judgment. There's even research that shows 4 weeks of a regular mindfulness practice can begin to change your brain. I have a simple mindful exercise on my Instagram page if you want to try it out.
5. Sleep Routine
I remember as we were sleep training our son I was thinking "okay he needs a bed routine and cues that its time to sleep." He has a bed time, a dark and cozy room without any electronics and a pretty consistent sleep routine. The kid sleeps great. It's like clockwork when we turn the lights off at 8pm he's asleep by 8:10. Now I on the other hand had no sleep routine. No quiet time, tv and phones in the bedroom, no bed time, no cues to tell my body it was time to rest. Getting on a sleep routine as an adult is just as important as a growing child. Make your room quiet, cozy and dark. Diffuse essential oils like lavender, get electronics out of your room, get a cozy cup of tea and take a relaxing bath. Getting adequate sleep is going to let you function so so so much better.
Focusing on gratitude has been shown to change our brain . A great way to do this is list 3 things you are grateful for and journal about why you are grateful for them. Do this daily or as often as possible. A different option is to choose an object (one that you see frequently) and every time you see that object you think of something your are grateful for. For example if I choose a red car, every time I see a red car I think of something I'm grateful for.
7. Soothing Box
A soothing box or self care box is a literal box that holds things that can soothe you when things get tough. This could be a journal, affirmations, your favorite tea, music, a stress ball, a picture. Put as many soothing things into the box and then when you need it, soothe away.
I hope some of these tips help you or a loved one. I would love to hear any tips and tricks you have tried in the comments below.
As always, I'm rooting for you,
Hey sweet friends,
I remember when I first began my journey towards health. It was confusing. It was difficult. It was extreme. It wasn't very.....healthy. I was lost and there was a whole lot of conflicting information out there. Over the years I've been able to learn through trial and error and I would love to share some of my thoughts.
1. Remember you are a unique person.
We all have different needs. With that in mind, make changes that work for you, not for the stranger you see on Instagram or your best friend who tried a diet and lost 30 pounds. It's so easy to see all this conflicting information and get so confused. What it comes down to is different things work for different people. Don't think it's a black and white picture.
2. Start so small it seem silly.
When we want to change our health it can get overwhelming when we start adding up allll the new habits we want to acquire. Start so small that it seems silly. I bet 90% of people won't do this because it seems SO simple but I challenge you to try. If you want to change anything start here. About four years ago I was a stress case. I was going to start meditating in the morning, so me being me, I wanted to set the goal of meditating 20 minutes every morning. Sounds great right? The issue is there is no way I would have stuck with that in the long run. At the time I was working on this with a therapist and she suggested I start smaller. What did we come up with? Something I could not fail at. 30 seconds was all I had to do. It seems so small it was pointless. WRONG. I stuck with that until it became a habit because it was so simple and so easy. Now I use the Calm app to help me.
3. Focus on how you actually want to feel.
When it comes to our health, It's so typical to get this number in our head and think when we get there life is going to be rainbows and butterfly's. We can reach any number on the scale but if we're not feeling the way we want to feel it's not going to do anything for us. Instead of thinking about a number...think about what you're hoping to feel like. Calm? Refreshed? Happy? Now ask yourself what things make you feel that way. You can read more about that here.
4. If you can't do it forever, do you need to be doing it?
Ask yourself this question. For me, if i'm tempted to try something new I ask myself "Could I keep this up forever?" What I've come to learn is what I can do forever is balance. Nourishing and honoring my body but still enjoying a sweet treat when I want it. Some days I rest, most days I move. I listen to my body and trust that it knows what it wants. This takes time to do but it is such a cool thing when you get the hang of it.
5. Be gentle with yourself and no it's okay that you're not perfect.
Allow the ups and downs. Allow life to happen. Some days you'll get to yoga and some days you'll be busy and forget. Both are okay. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to be human.
Get cozy and take some time for yourself. Pull out pen and paper and make a list of what you want your life to feel like. Next, jot down what things make you feel that way.
I hope some of these tips help you. They're all things I've had the honor of learning in a messy way over the years.
Today I want to chat self care. We KNOW how it important it is, we are constantly told we should be doing it but let's be real, sometimes it's tough to make happen. Days don't go as planned, we have a family to take care of, we are exhausted... It's easy to let our own well-being fall to the end of the list. But here's the thing, when we make our self care a priority, it allows us to be a better wife, mom and friend. It makes our patience a last a little bit longer. It makes us kinder to ourselves. It allows us to feel better. It's time we say enough is enough and make self care a regular part of our schedules. It's time we stop making "busy" sound so glamorous.
So what usually goes wrong?
If you've been trying to add in self care but it just isn't working check in with these things.
I hope some of these tips help!
How are mornings in your home? Are they calm, peaceful + relaxing? Or rushed, crazy + overwhelming? I know i'm accurate when I say there's two types of people in this world, morning lovers + night owls. Although I've always been one to love the calmness + quiet of an early morning, I also know so many humans (my husband included) that love to stay up late at night. Also, now that I have an 8 month old that loves to 'hangout' during the night and keep mommy awake, early mornings have been somewhat of an adjustment. With all that being said,
I think that in order to create a shift and to begin the process of transformation, waking up earlier is the place to start. Now, don't get me wrong, there are seasons in life when early morning wake ups aren't possible. Take me for example, when we first had our son, I had to get sleep whenever I could, I was on survival mode, but for most people, I suggest to give these early mornings a shot.
So why mornings you ask? When we can start our day out productively, it effects all areas of our life. When we put our self care, quiet time or productivity time off, there's just too many chances for it to get forgotten or put aside throughout our day. If you're looking for a great book that goes into depth about this and also chats about how to wake up earlier you can snag The Miracle Morning .
In this post we're going to jam on what to do when you're up + how to create an atmosphere that makes for a productive day.
1. Create the Vibe
The environment you start your day in is SO important. The first hour totally sets the pace for your day. Leave your phone on airplane mode, keep the news off and focus on creating an environment that brings you comfort. Make a point to get up before the family and create this sacred space for you. For me, I like to get my diffuser going with whatever essential oils i'm feeling that day, turn on Jack Johnson radio and start my coffee. While I do this I write out my gratitudes + permissions ( I shared about this in our private wellness community, you can join that here ) . This creates the type of vibe I want to experience throughout my day.
Connect, get grounded, become centered, whatever you want to call it, now is the time to do it. Take some time to do a self inventory. Sit in meditation, do some deep breathing, take a moment to listen to your body. What does it need? This is usually when I decide what my body needs physically throughout the day. Is it craving yoga? Does it need a long run? Does is need to rest and regroup? Taking this time (even if it's only for a few minutes) to take a judgment free, honest inventory of your self can help you set your day up in a way that works for you.
3. Top 3 priorities
So to be fair, this part can be done the night before or in the morning but what I like to do is brain dump on a piece of paper and get everything on my to do list out of my head. It's nice to do this the night before because it clears your head so you can relax a bit more easily but doing it in the morning is just as beneficial. After the brain dump, take your top three things that need to be accomplished that day. Only three! If you do more than that it's just icing on the cake. After you write out your priorities list for your day, do the toughest one first. You know, the one you've been putting off for months + keep saying you'll do it later? Yeah, that one. It's called eating the frog. Get that one out of the way + than tackle the others. This leads to feeling productive opposed to just staring at a long to do list that never gets done.
I encourage you to try this for a week. See how your days change. I'd love to hear your thoughts on early morning wake ups. What does your routine look like?
I'm always rooting for you,
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.