If you have made your way to this article, you most likely have noticed that dieting and restricting yourself from your favorite foods has not necessarily worked to your benefit physically and mentally. It’s time to start having confidence in your body and making the right choices that feel good for you without the influence of diet culture. Learn how to make peace with your body and let go of the fear of weight gain throughout this post!
The Root Behind Your Fear of Weight Gain
The ideas and images of “thin” and “healthy” have been socially constructed by society. Throughout your everyday life, social media, work, grocery stores, gyms, etc, all contribute to this internalized weight stigma that ultimately allows your mind to be biased in wanting to look a certain way. These thoughts and ideas consistently invade every individual’s life, making it difficult to not obsess over the fear of weight gain.
Firstly, understanding that obsessively trying to control your weight and how diet culture portrays that image is all unnecessary pressure is extremely vital in your journey. Society places this responsibility or obligation on individuals to work hard and not be “lazy” in order to obtain this pleasant or attractive body known as thin. The greatest reason why most people fear gaining any kind of weight is because of how the public will portray them regarding the standards and guidelines of beauty. Instead of fearing your visual appearance, it is time to focus on how you feel and how that can develop through the foods you eat whilst letting go of the pressures of society which ultimately leads to you feeling and looking your absolute best.
One of the first steps in this process that is extremely important is acknowledging that you are not alone and knowing the sources of your fears. Understanding that being fearful of gaining weight is an extremely common start in the process of intuitive eating can be comforting and beneficial. Collectively coming together over the same fear allows everyone to work together and strive to find an actual solution.
Fulfill Your Hunger
Hunger cues such as stomach grumbling, headaches, low energy, and many more symptoms are made to let your body know it needs fuel. Depriving yourself of this fuel is only going to negatively affect your body, for example, going into “survival mode.” Your body and its cells, due to being deprived of food and nutrients, enforces the body to crave commonly unhealthy foods in large amounts. Properly feeding yourself and breaking these unhealthy cycles will break these fears of weight gain as you begin to notice the positive effects your body will undergo.
The fear of gaining weight is scary and reasonable, as intuitive eating allows you to eat as your body pleases. One of the main things that could potentially diminish this fear is by maintaining physical activity through movement. Certain types of exercises, big or small, leave you feeling energized and positive. During physical activity, your body releases chemicals that suppress negative hormones that cause stress and anxiety. Anything from hula hooping to running could be beneficial in your intuitive eating journey as it is a quick boost in your physical and mental health.
Not every day in the process of intuitive eating is going to be easy. Allow yourself to feel and validate all the things that you may be going through while also setting boundaries in order to make this process easier on yourself. Family members or friends may or may not be going through the same thing as you so developing strategies can be beneficial in avoiding diet talk. An example may be to offer education to those around you about intuitive eating, known as the protege effect, as you can learn more from teaching others. The protege effect, through scientific research, is a psychological phenomenon where educating others on the topic you are looking to study could ultimately improve your understanding of the material immensely reducing your fears.
Health Outside of Weight
Weighing yourself consistently is another boundary to break as it can withhold you from your success. Ditch the scale in order to begin your intuitive eating process as your weight is not what defines your health completely. There are many other important factors in the process of intuitive eating besides counting calories and dedicating time to the scale such as paying attention to sleep and lifestyle habits that affect your body. Sleep affects tissues in our body that can affect the immune system, appetite, cardiovascular health, and many other factors. Research also shows that obtaining a little amount of sleep increases the chances of heart disease and obesity. Other lifestyle factors such as excessive stress, alcohol/drug use, and physical activity as mentioned previously are also factors to consider and ways to honor your health outside a number on a scale.
Key Points in Intuitive Eating
Overall, when beginning intuitive eating, it is important to ditch the phrases “good” or “bad” in regard to food. This process is meant for you to tune out the negative connotations of diet culture and its harmful rules in order to benefit not only your body but your mind. Break out of the cycles of food deprivation and restriction to repair your relationship with food as it is important to remember that your weight is not your health.
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This article was written by Sammy Bran, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.