Letting Go of Control Doesn't Mean Letting Go of Health
Many people believe their body size is unacceptable and have immense fear of weight gain. We are told that losing control means you’ve let yourself go and don’t care about your health or appearance. We are sold this idea that the pursuit of thinness is what we should be doing and being thin will “fix” everything.
What’s interesting is that as I work alongside clients to dive into their pursuit of health, we usually find that weight and health are two very different things. People have the ability to be healthy and have health promoting behaviors at any size and their body image concerns aren’t necessarily a physical manifestation.
What if all the stressing and obsessing is actually causing more adverse health effects?
For example, we know that stress and sleep play a bigger part in wellness than weight. Pushing yourself through a strenuous workout, when your body really needs sleep, is actually more detrimental than health promoting. Even thinking about restricting a food or controlling the amount of calories you consume in a day will turn up the desire for more food. Chaotic eating patterns can result in poor gut health and unpleasant GI symptoms. We also know that poor body image is often associated with poor overall health because you can’t treat something well that you hate.
What if healthier meant you had permission to stop pursuing thinner?
Letting go of the idea that you need to control your food and body doesn’t mean you have given up on your health. In fact, loosening that grip actually allows you to take better care of yourself.
It is helpful to shift the mindset centered around control to one that promotes flexibility. The word control implies judgement, restriction, rules, and perfectionism. Dieting is wrapped in shame and leaves you feeling bad about yourself. It’s anxiety producing and causes you to miss so many enjoyable experiences. Anything that compromises your mental stability in the pursuit of health isn’t healthy. In addition, dieting can deprive you of important nutrients and force you to eliminate a variety of food options.
Flexibility, on the other hand, is adaptive, resilient, and forgiving. Because eating isn’t perfect and our health isn’t static, more flexibility in our food choices allows us to better provide for our body. By tuning into hunger and fullness signals, we can decide for ourselves when and how much we need to eat. Losing the diet mentality allows us to make peace with all foods, reducing shame and guilt. With kindness and forgiveness we can learn to respect our body and feelings.
It is empowering to have body trust and this is only possible if we are able to approach health with our internal wisdom instead of exterior measures. Through an intuitive eating lens, it is possible to eat in a way that feels good, creates more energy, and improves self-worth.