The Answer to Diet Culture Lies Within You

By Vanessa Rogers | March 21, 2022

Detrimental diet culture and subsequent dieting rules have run rampant in societies for generations. Now, people are starting to see through the scare tactics. They want to be empowered instead of feeling like a failure. They want to heal in a real and healthy way. As a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach I know how awful it is to stress about food, and to feel hungry and tired far too often as a result. I also know how it feels to break the cycle and feel present, happy, more energetic, and finally at ease with food.

My eating psychology philosophy offers a positive and compassionate approach to challenges you might face with food and eating. The goal is to help you evolve the way you nourish yourself and heal the way you relate to food and your body so that you feel more empowered. The following practices can help you break free of dieting, restricting, bingeing, obsessing about food, and be free in mind, body and spirit. Let's begin!
 
Get curious
I want your to first recognize that you are not the problem when it comes to eating challenges. The first, most powerful step you can take is shifting any shame or guilt around food to curiosity. That will help open the door to lasting healing. Instead of judging your body for not being what you want, connect with with its wisdom and become aware of how it truly feels. In turn, you can begin to re-establish a loving and trusting bond with the body (which is quite the departure from traditional diet culture), and begin to ease into body acceptance, eventually creating a partnership as opposed to feeling at odds with your physical self. 
The first, most powerful step you can take is shifting any shame or guilt around food to curiosity.  
Stop counting calories
There's growing research to support that calorie counting doesn't offer the long-term benefits most people are seeking, such as correlating with the amount of energy our bodies need. Counting calories also takes us out of our bodies and back into our heads during the nourishment experience.
To get back into your body, stop counting and simply tune in and become mindful of your internal experience. In other words, use all your senses during the eating experience (like a wine tasting!), and also check in with question like How full do I feel? How satisfied am I?
 
Focus on fullness
To help this practice become a little more concrete I share with my clients and students the practice of ranking their fullness on a scale of 1-10 as they eat, and aim to stop at an eight out of ten. When you reach an eight you feel as though there is still a bit of room (not full “to the brim” if you will) and yet the body is not asking for more food. It has had enough. This is a practice, and one that eventually becomes automatic. That’s when things get easy! You won’t have to think about how much to eat because your body will let you know.
 
Reframe overeating
One of the most-asked questions I receive from clients is about overeating. There are a handful of common causes, but it is NOT because you are “broken" or have no willpower. In fact, overeating is often a product of the body trying to balance something out. For example, a stressful day that did not include a substantial, nutrient-dense breakfast or lunch. The drop in blood sugar, combined with stress hormones, is a recipe for stress eating, fatigue, perhaps a dopamine hit, and the body looking to recover the amount of fuel it needs. When something like this happens instead of beating yourself up, reflect and consider some steps that might be helpful to prepare for next time. Each day is a new day.

Embrace your individuality
It’s incredibly important to recognize that every single body is different, every mind is different, everyone’s energy levels and daily experiences are different. In fact, no two people will digest the same bite of food in the same way. With that in mind, why would we expect that the same “diet rules” would apply to everyone? Celebrate and honor your individuality. 
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This article mentions: Nutrition, Diet

About the Author:

Vanessa Rogers

Vanessa Rogers, NBC-HWC, is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, specializing in the psychology of eating. She received her Health and Wellness Certification from The Mayo Clinic and completed a degree in Human Development from The University of California, San Diego. Rogers has guided people around the globe to sustainable behavior change with regard to food, eating, and overall wellness.

Read more articles by Vanessa Rogers
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Access thousands of live and on-demand classes for mind, body, and emotional wellbeing with a WellSet membership.

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