So I was in the shower this morning (*side note – I try to practice mindfulness in the shower…I really do…but sometimes it’s where I do my best thinking) and I was contemplating my relationship with food. So much of this relationship is built on rules. Sometimes these rules are harmful, sometimes they’re conflicting and sometimes they make it easy for me to not have to think. As I was washing my hair, it occurred to me how powerful it would be to shift up perspective and give this narrative of ‘relationship’ a different context. Imagine talking about your relationship with food like it was a relationship with a spouse or a friend. “Sometimes I’m made to go to bed hungry because ‘she’ tells me it’s what’s best for me” or “’his’ rules are so restrictive that sometimes I cheat”. We encourage, preach and celebrate the need for respect and compassion in relationships with others and yet we allow the diet industry to dictate how, when and what we eat. I know for some, this becomes easier to swallow (*insert pun groan here*) when we consider these rules to be necessary for health. I get it. The messages we get are pretty damaging – “OBESITY EPIDEMIC” – I mean, who the hell wants to be lumped in with cholera or the bird flu? I would strongly urge you to do more research, though, because fatness is not the enemy it is made out to be. What does happen, however, with all of these rules is that it moves us away from an ability to trust ourselves – to know what we want, like, need etc. This is important stuff and transcends so much more than food.
In the counselling world, I preach this need of ‘trusting self’ a lot. I encourage people to explore their emotions, their thoughts, their needs and their desires while learning how to understand it and articulate it to themselves and to others. I believe this is the root of both growth and healing…moving away from this idea that we can’t be trusted. I would rather make choices for myself about what I do and don’t eat (which can change from day to day) based on how I’m feeling and what I’m needing in that moment rather than be told what I ‘should’ eat based on an industry that may or may not use pseudo research to inform their eating plans. Learning how to trust yourself around food is an important part of eating intuitively…it removes the power imbalance of those rules and helps you identify your needs. Now that’s what I call a healthy relationship!