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.
Motherhood. I could simply say this word and mom's everywhere would be nodding their heads with a reassuring "ahh yes, motherhood". It's hard to describe and put into words because it is simply something you cannot explain, you can only experience. The moment you decide you want to become a mother you start learning lessons along the way. My son's first birthday is coming up this month and like most mom's i'm sitting here stunned that a year has flown by. As I reflect on where this last year has gone I can't help but think about how much my little guy has taught me in such a short time.
Time waits for no one
This one makes sense and we hear it on probably a daily basis "just wait, he will be graduating college soon" "he'll be asking for your keys before you know it". I get it now. I mean, I was just in the hospital. I was just waking my husband up at 2AM to let him know "this is definitely it, time for a baby!". We blinked and a year went by. Enjoy every little second you can and soak it all in. Spend less time doing dishes, worrying about the future and stressing about the craziness. Soak up every single second you can. Hold your baby, study their face, sit and play with them, learn along side them.
Take care of yourself
Mom guilt is a real thing but I've learned how important it is for me to get time in for myself. Oh how much I appreciate that 50 minute yoga class or the ten minutes my husband takes little man to go feed the dogs. Whether you can fit in something big or something small, make a priority to fit it in. For me, self care makes me kinder, more patient and a more loving mama. Take the time, make it regular and make it a priority. My self care may not be as leisurely or spontaneous as it once was but it has taught me to be present and intentional with the time I do get.
Baby sitting, help with laundry, a night out, a nap... it takes a tribe to raise a family. It takes grandparents, friends, cousins, aunties and uncles to make this whole thing work. Take the help when you can. We are completely spoiled by being surrounded by a supportive family. I understand that's not always the case for everyone so this is something I don't take for granted.
It's a season
Some great advice I got pre mama hood was to remember...it's all a season. When your life turns inside out just remember it wont be like this forever. Enjoy it, embrace the mess and remember you are strong enough to get through it all.I have felt exhaustion like I never no I could. We're still up 4+ times a night, Sometimes every hour. But man oh man those quiet moments when we cuddle makes every second worth it. When things seem hard and maybe even impossible, just remember it's a season that will pass. Soak it up as much as you can. And on another note, it's OKAY to be overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted. Motherhood is a life changing, beautiful miracle that I wouldn't trade for anything. But It's also okay to admit that it's really hard. Be gentle with yourself and offer lot's and lot's of grace.
You ARE doing a good job
Advice on sleep training, nursing, solid foods, nap schedules and everything in between can make you question yourself. I have had plenty of conversations with God and my husband saying "I DON"T KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT". There is so much advice, resources and different way to do things. Remember, YOU are doing a good job. YOU can love on your little like no one else. Life will go on if you don't follow the perfect bedtime routine or schedule.
From the moment we decided we wanted to become parents we began learning the art of patience. Pregnancy doesn't always happen when we want it to. We don't always (or ever) go in to labor on our due dates. Nap times don't happen at the perfect time every day. As our kiddos grow older and they want to do things on their own ( like walk through Costco over being held) and it forces us to sloooowwww down and step out of our busy, fast paced life. Having patience is one thing I have yet to master but continue to learn on a daily basis.
I have been pooped on, spit up on, woken up hourly, bitten during teething and I love that little man like no other. I have not been the perfect mom, I've been on my phone too much at times, I've become frustrated, my anxiety has gotten the better of me and that boy just wants to crawl up and cuddle with his mama at the end of the day regardless. The love that a mama and her child has is like no other.
Try, try and try again
This has been a humbling lesson for me. So many times prior to motherhood I would think things were impossible, too hard or I failed too many times. Do you know how hard a baby has to work to do anything!? I mean, Jacks worked so hard to learn how to crawl, walk and the most recent, run without falling face first. I've watched him try and fail over and over again until he could finally, successfully put a blanket over his head and play peek-a-boo. I've watched him unsure on how to climb off the couch until he tried over and over again and it became easy. Being a mama to this sweet little boy has proven to me that anything is possible if we don't give up.
Get clear on priorities
We unfortunatly are working through our first sickness with mister Jacks. It is heart breaking, difficult and a sure way to get clear on priorities. When your baby needs you and is sick, the things you were so worried about don't seem to matter anymore. Mamahood helps you get clear on the things that are truly important to you.
I am learning new things daily and this list could go on and on... but these are some things that have really stood out to me. I would love to hear about your journey and lessons that you've learned along the way too!
When we think of kindness we probably think about being nice to our friends, our family, the neighbors down the street, even the stranger at the grocery store. If someone were to ask you if you are a kind person, chances are you would say yes. In most settings, we were raised with the basic knowledge that we should be kind to others, you know the old saying "treat others how you want to be treated".
Now what if someone asked you if you were a kind person to yourself? Are you kind with the thoughts you think on a daily basis? Are you kind with the way you treat your body? Are you kind when it comes to the foods you eat and the products you use? Are you kind when it comes to allowing your body rest?
Likely that question brought up some emotions. Maybe shock. Sometimes guilt. Or maybe pride because you have worked really hard to become a kinder person to yourself. What I've noticed in my time working with women, being kind to others is second nature, being kind to ourselves, takes some work.
Today my goal is to explore with you what being kind to yourself looks and feels like, a simple step you can take today and some journal prompts to explore to help you choose kindness.
When I first started the process of choosing kindness for myself, I didn't know what that even looked like. Many of us have a background of constant diets, repetitive burnout, extremes and negative self talk. A big part of choosing kindness, is tapping into our selves and asking "what do I need in this moment?" This is going to look different on everyone and constantly be changing as you go throughout your day. Below you will find journal prompts to help you navigate what choosing kindness looks like for you personally but here are a few guidelines I believe can work for most.
Choosing kindness is:
The first step
The first step to choosing kindness is to simply begin. Instead of complicating things or waiting for the perfect moment to explore kindness, I encourage you to explore it now. If this is new for you, here is a quick exercise you can do to get present and tap into what your body needs. I use this with my therapy clients regularly.
Sitting in a comfortable position, take 3 long, deep breaths. Now, ask yourself
what are 5 things that you see, 4 things that you hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Take 3 more deep breaths and than ask yourself, what do I need in this moment? Honor what comes to you. Is it rest? Work? Nature?
When you have some time to get cozy, grab some tea or coffee and your favorite journal and explore some of these topics. This will help give you a better understanding of what you need more of on a regular basis.
What are things that you value most in your life?
What are some of your favorite ways to treat yourself?
What are your personal gifts you offer to the world?
What fills your heart up?
What would you do if you had more time in the day?
What brought you joy as a child?
What positive words describe yourself?
To me, choosing kindness means...
Write a love letter to yourself about all your accomplishments.
I hope some of these tips help you on your journey to choosing kindness. Be gentle with yourself, offer lots of grace and remember we're all in this together.
If you're looking to join a group of like minded women, join us in our private wellness group here.
Saying no can be hard. Like really hard. And how do we do it in a way that's kind without hurting feelings? Saying no can bring on feelings of anxiety and stress if it's not something that comes natural to us. As tough as it might be to get comfortable with saying no it is SO important for our well being. Think of all the things, as women especially, that we say yes to. Eventually, it adds up and starts taking away from things that are important to us. The more we say yes to the stuff that doesn't serve us, the more we say no to ourselves, our families and our overall wellness.
I've been there. A lot. I use to be the person that said yes to everything. Overwhelm and stress were a common part of my life. What truly made me shift my thinking was finding a big enough 'why'. I became a mama, and that changed everything. As difficult as it was, I knew I didn't (and my family didn't) deserve to live life burnt out and just getting by. You don't deserve that either.
Having the ability to say no is powerful. It allows you to set healthy boundaries and allows others the opportunity to do the same.
The truth of it is, time is something we wont ever get back. We can jam pack our days and our lives to the brim because we feel like we have to and that's the normal thing to do, but is that really living? I love the quote "Don't confuse a busy life for a full life". So. Much. Truth. When we continuously fill our life with saying yes to "stuff" we put off living in the moment, being present and living with intention.
If saying no is hard for you, don't worry, I've been there. Today i'm sharing with you things that I've personally done to make saying "no" a heck of a lot easier.
1. Understand your values. This is something that one day will be it's very own blog post because it's so powerful. When we get clear on what our values are and begin to make decisions aligned with them the rest falls into place. Choosing our priorities becomes a simple decision. Saying no becomes easier.
2. Give yourself some time. The most powerful realization I had was when I learned I had a choice and I didn't need to answer right away. If you're not sure or you need a second to think it through, let it be known. Repeat after me "let me think about it and i'll get back to you".
3. You don't need to explain yourself. Give yourself permission to say no without an explanation. Keep it simple.
4. Prioritize. Life is going to happen and it's up to us to make sure we are living it how we want to. When asked to commit to something new take a moment to check in and see if it's something that you want in your life. If no, practice #1, 2 and 3 :)
How are you when it comes to saying No?
Keep up the work friend,
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.