Body Positive. It seems to be a term that’s getting a little more press these days. As a self-described “body positive dietitian” you’d think I’d be thrilled! Truthfully, I’m conflicted. I’m conflicted because “body positive” began as a term used to promote body inclusivity, meaning all bodies (fat, thin, short, tall, able-bodied or not) deserve respect AND don’t need changing. Yup, body positive means I’m going to take good care of my body just as it is today and love it fiercely, without any agenda of making it look different.
Trying to lose weight (or at least talking about trying to lose weight) is a popular thing to do. It's culturally acceptable and even socially obligatory to be dissatisfied with the size and shape or your body. One client recently said to me "I feel like a freak because I'm the only grad student NOT on a diet." Say WHAT!?!
On the daily, you'll see diets being advertised and sold with a vengeance. If you have been reading my blog and don't already believe me when I say diets don't work, check out this stellar postby rock star dietitian Evelyn Tribole. She nails it with research and practical advice.
So you may be asking, what does work? It's not sexy, but slow/sustainable changes you can manage over a lifetime does work. In fact, my brother said it best as we were enjoying some cinnamon rolls over the holidays. "So Marci, what you are talking about on your blog is eating one of these cinnamon rolls, rather than skipping it or eating three?" You've got it!
So here are some more specific strategies to get you started:
1.) Start listening to your body. You can use this scale as a guide. Notice how often you are in the white zone. Strive to steer clear of that zone as often as possible.
2.) Prioritize your health by committing to at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Learn more about how sleep affects your weight here.
3.) Move in ways you genuinely enjoy and NEVER with the intention of providing pain or punishment. (Here's my article about falling in like with exercise)
So dare to be different by letting go of body and weight obsessions. Dare to be different by taking care of yourself, trusting that as you do so, a healthy body will naturally follow. Dare to be different...and you just may find a much happier and healthier you.
Your very different dietitian in Cambridge
Many of you will identify with some of what Amy has to share about her journey to making peace with food and her body. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. I know I did!
How do you know you're hungry? I know it sounds like an odd question but I'm always amazed at the answers I get to this seemingly simple question. Think about it a moment. Imagine I just asked you "how do you know you're hungry?" What would you say?
I talk about hunger a fair amount. Certainly more than the average person since I happen to be a nutrition therapist for a living. :) And perhaps more than other dietitians because I use an intuitive eating approach to my work. That means I work with my clients to help them connect to the process of eating when hungry, stopping when full, and learning to manage their emotions without using food. Perhaps it sounds simple but it can be a surprisingly complex process!
There are many things in life that can derail us from eating in response to a physical cue for hunger: not being able to identify hunger, eating based on the time of day, habits, chaotic schedules, emotions, and even dieting. I'm sure you could add to the list.
In an ideal world, we'd eat in response to a hunger cue the majority of the time. Note: not 100% of the time. Sometimes we eat for fun and social reasons. But hopefully most of our eating is done because our bodies and brains need more fuel. So my purpose in writing this blog post is to help you become more aware of your personal cues of hunger. Believe it or not, your hunger cues are just as individual as you are! And learning your own personal cues for hunger is the first step to eating intuitively.
So, here is your homework assignment. Get out a sheet of paper and write the following:Starving:
Now, I want you to write down as many PHYSICAL descriptors as you can for each category. I'll give you some examples.
Starving: stomach pain, headache, terrible mood, no energy
Over-hungry: growling/empty stomach, shaky, can't think of anything but eating
Meal hungry: grumbly stomach, lack of concentration, low energy, mouth watering at the thought of food
Snack hungry: distracted thinking, energy dip, little grumbles in stomach
Ok, the next step is to keep this paper around for a week or so. Throughout the week pay attention to moments that you think you might be in one of these categories and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I hungry?
2. How hungry am I?
3. How do I know? This "how do I know" part is your cue to write down any physical descriptor you have that fits your particular level of hunger.
The last step is extremely important because you are creating an individualized list of how your body speaks to you. Try to pay attention for a week or so and see what data you gather. You might notice that you need to make changes to your list as you go along.
What are your greatest obstacles to eating in response to hunger? I'd love to hear your feedback!
Your nutritionist in Cambridge,
This post originally debuted in January and with the heat of summer upon us I had to re-share it.
Key Point: You cannot talk your way to better body image. If you treat yourself with hate you will continue to feel hate towards your body. In this video blog I share with you the why and the how to improve your body image through actionable steps.
After you view this video blog, I hope you will share what you plan to start doing that feels good to your body. What action step or steps will you start making today?