By Ann Gilligan
Let’s start with a few questions:
– Do you feel there are certain foods that should be “off limits” for you? Perhaps you feel there are entire food groups (such as carbohydrates, bread, sweets, etc.) that you cannot/should not ever eat?
– Do you worry about your weight constantly, suffer from poor self-image, and feel a lot of negativity around the subject of food?
– Are you mean to yourself and your body? Do you feel you have to punish yourself with mandatory exercise if you eat certain foods or eat in excess?
– Do you think about food constantly, worry about what you will eat next, and if that meal will be healthy or not?
– Do you feel guilty after you eat certain foods and regret your decision to eat them?
– Do you feel the need to binge/eat an excessive amount of certain foods when you eat them?
– Do you wish you could enjoy your meals without worrying about the type of food or number of calories you are consuming, especially at events like holiday meals and family celebrations?
If you answered yes to a number of these, you may suffer from disordered eating patterns, poor body and self-image, and/or need to heal your relationship with food. But don’t worry because you are not alone! So many Americans have some degree of this issue. It has become extremely prevalent due to the media, diet culture, and pressure to look a certain way. Our bodies are naturally quite smart. For example, complex metabolic processes naturally signal when we need protein after intense exercise, or high water content foods in the heat of summer. Our bodies crave carbohydrates and sugar when our blood glucose levels drop and hearty, filling meals in the dead of winter. But popular fad diets have made us believe certain foods that our bodies crave and need as fuel are “bad”. Carbohydrates, gluten, dairy, healthy fat, natural sugars, you name it. Diets that tell us one food should never be eaten under any circumstance. Many people have spent years jumping from one diet to the next while being bombarded with images in the media that they are not worthy unless they look a certain way. They feel ashamed they cannot stick to a diet of plain grilled chicken and broccoli for their whole lives. And you know why they can’t? Because their bodies are fighting to be properly nourished. This chronic cycle of yo-yo dieting mixed with negative emotions towards food often results in disordered eating patterns. As a result, people lose the ability to eat intuitively.
A return to intuitive eating will mean bringing awareness back to your eating. This means learning to understand and feel your hunger cues, recognizing when, why, and where you eat. Eventually you will discover to chose foods in alignment with what your body craves and what you want to experience with each meal. When you stop labeling foods as “good” and “bad” you start to figure out how different foods make you feel, what foods you actually like/don’t like, and stop feeling “good”, “bad”, or “guilty” based on what you eat. Eventually the goal is to heal your relationship with food and experience food freedom. Know that if you are coming from a lifetime of body shaming and dieting, you will not arrive at this overnight. It can take some time to undue a lifetime of learning. Finally, this is not a diet; this will not help you lose the quick 20 lbs you want to lose a week before your wedding. It is a permanent way of life that can help you achieve lifelong happiness and optimal health.
If you feel the above may apply to you, I encourage you to read more on the topic. The below Registered Dietitians’ Instagram pages and websites are all useful resources. Most importantly, if you feel you may suffer from disordered eating I encourage you to seek out the help of a Registered Dietitian.
Hi all! I joined RRRC as a Running Consultant in November 2019 after moving to Las Vegas. I previously
worked in Washington, DC for six years as a government contractor but have since changed careers. I
am currently pursuing a M.S. in Nutrition Sciences – Coordinated Program in Dietetics to become a
Registered Dietitian. I competed in high school track and cross country and ran with a club team in
college. I also have experience with weightlifting as I been doing Crossfit in addition to running for six
years. I am passionate about sports nutrition and fueling our bodies properly to prevent injury and
maximize performance on the road, trails, or in the gym!