Moms, Let’s Be Kind to Our Bodies

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It’s that time of year when we are bombarded with messages telling us to get “swimsuit/bikini/summer ready” with a particular diet, cleanse, program, jumpstart, whatever. WHATEVER.

Oh, sometimes I cringe when I hear women talk about the latest tactics for weight loss. I’m not cringing at the women themselves, I’m cringing at the lies we’ve been fed about what our bodies should look like and what we should be doing to make them look that way.

I cringe when we feel like we have to state the number of calories in order for something to be deemed worthy of consumption. I cringe when we feel like the only compliments we can give each other are on the way we look. I cringe when someone labels themselves as “bad” because they ate a desirable food.

Y’all, it’s time we put our feet down and say no more. 

As a dietitian I have fallen into the trap of thinking a certain body size is healthier than the other and the reality is that’s just not true. Our culture has created an unrealistic standard for what people should look like and sometimes the pursuit of that body image is about as unhealthy as it gets.

Instead of critiquing our bodies, can we be kind to them?

Can we acknowledge the amazing ways our bodies function each day? And to the postpartum mom who’s frustrated with trying to “get her body back” can we celebrate the fact that your body just amazingly conceived, grew, and birthed another human life? Give yourself a break, give yourself time and most importantly give yourself some love and care.

Intuitive Eating vs. Diet Culture

My eyes were opened a few years ago when I stumbled upon the notion of intuitive eating. As I read through the book I highlighted entire paragraphs as I was thinking YES TO ALL OF THIS!

Here’s the first point that really got me: the diet industry is a $60 billion a year enterprise yet 90-95% of diets fail. In the words of dietitians and authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, “In spite of the fact that 90 to 95 percent of diets fail – you tend to blame yourself, not the diet! Isn’t it ironic that with a massive failure rate for dieting – we don’t blame the process of dieting?”

And if you’re thinking that “diet” is an outdated fad, I beg you to consider the number of cleanses, 30-day programs, and eating plans that exist. A majority of these are part of a diet culture that’s done more harm than good.

I could honestly go on and on with quotes on Intuitive Eating, but for now, I’ll give you the ten basic principles so you can get a taste of what it feels like to love, trust, and nourish your body in a healthy way.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Feel Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Cope with Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise: Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health: Gentle Nutrition

What I love about intuitive eating is that it approaches health and wellness by making sure you have a healthy relationship with food before you explore what types of food your unique body needs for nourishment.

It also puts a huge emphasis on body trust – meaning that if you pay attention closely, you will begin to see and feel the best way to nourish your body. As a mom, I find intuitive eating to be freeing and it’s the first piece of advice I give when people ask me how they should be eating. You really can trust your body.

Intuitive Eating Resources

If this approach to health and wellness sounds interesting to you, here are a few resources to get you started:

Intuitive Eating Workbook – I loved working through this workbook as it focuses on building body trust through self-care, mindfulness, and body kindness. It’s a warm welcome to the diet messages that are thrown at us each day.

The Food Psych Podcast – if listening is more your thing, check out this podcast by Christy Harrison as she dives into how we can break free from diet culture and start eating and living freely.

What are your thoughts on all the “fad diets” that exist today? Have you tried intuitive eating?

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Courtney is a Charleston native who, after graduating Clemson, moved to Chicago to compete a one-year dietetics internship. That one-year program turned into a decade long stint in the Windy City where Courtney worked for a variety of health businesses. While in Chicago, Courtney met her husband and had three kids, living an adventure of having kids in the city. At the end of 2015, she returned home and launched her own private nutrition practice on Daniel Island. Courtney loves to help people find simple ways to heal and thrive through the food they eat. She is a thankful for the beauty – and the food – that the Lowcountry has to offer!