Food avoidance = big trouble

Okay. It’s summer. And with summer comes an even more intense than usual frenzy of weight loss commercials and web articles about “how to lose those extra pounds” and “how to get that bikini body”. I want to tell the world right here and now: I hate the diet industry. Here’s why: 1) they’re a huge money-making industry that THRIVES ON PEOPLE’S FAILURE to sustain the habits they endorse; 2) they, like any industry, are only out to make money, so it’s natural that one week they’ll tell the world not to eat carbs and the next week they’ll say carbs are okay–the more times they change the rules, the more products we buy; 3) they’re a huge money-making industry that THRIVES ON PEOPLE’S FAILURE to sustain the habits they endorse! Am I being too harsh? As someone who was stuck for 15 years in a constant cycle of dieting and bingeing (and who is now fully recovered), I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing that the diet industry doesn’t want us to know, but which is absolutely key to recovery from any kind of disordered eating: our bodies already know exactly what foods and in what quantities are best for us. That’s right! We don’t need a diet book, a magic weight loss pill, or a list of foods to avoid. All we have to do is learn to tune in to those bodily cues (which may seem subtle at first, but get increasingly clear with time and practice). This process is often referred to as “Mindful Eating“. And it’s something I’ve talked about before on my blog. I just thought it would be important to mention again, now that we’re all being barraged with diet talk.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to avoid certain foods in order to find your body’s healthy weight (and remember, we’re talking about your body’s individualized “healthy weight”, not whatever ideal society has put in your mind to acquire). You do not have to “eat this, not that”, as David Zinczenko promotes in his wildly popular books. If you are eating what your body truly wants and needs, there’s no reason why a slice of peanut butter pie would be out of the question. Seriously! Who’s to say what any of our bodies need and in what form to satisfy us physically and sensually? You’ve heard me say it before, but it’s all about finding balance. Food avoidance just leads to cravings and black and white thinking (“that food is ‘bad'”) and ultimately could lead to a binge (which, I might add, is not the end of the world…one day at a time, right?)

So, instead of starting off your summer with a new diet, how about taking a class in mindful eating or buying a book on meditation exercises or simply committing yourself to slowing down your mealtimes? It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling. Feel free to email me or comment on the blog for more ideas.

Peace, joy, and health!

–Megan

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