Going from dieting to freedom with food SOUNDS simple enough. Give up the diets- eat the foods. Done and done, right?!
Except it doesn't feel so easy if you've been in the cycle of dieting for years- maybe even decades.
It can also be downright terrifying (am I going to eat giant cones of ice cream every single day and gain fifty pounds?!) because most of society has told us if we're not dieting, we're just lazy and uncaring about our health. That people who don't diet are just 'the lucky ones' who don't have to worry about their weight or their health.
But neither of these are (necessarily) true- and knowing what we know about dieting (it doesn't actually improve our health or result in weight loss long-term) makes it confusing to know what to do- or where to start- to live well, without following a strict plan.
Here's where I started to break the cycle of over a decade of on-again, off-again dieting:
1. I ditched the tools.
Letting go of the diet books, the fitness magazines, instagram accounts and tracking apps was number one. I needed to let go of the tools that kept me trapped in the diet mindset before I could shift my OWN mindset.
2. I gave my body PERMISSION to ENJOY food.
Dieting often feels like a punishment- enjoying food feels like it's bad (especially if we've had a history of bingeing) so this can be a shift to allow ourselves to enjoy food- but it's essential. Giving myself permission to enjoy food allowed me to slow down and start connecting with my body and what I actually enjoy eating and eventually, I naturally stopped over-doing it because I wasn't denying myself pleasure in eating.
3. I checked in with my body ALL the time.
When I was dieting, food was timed and tracked- and I needed to rebuild both the connection with my body and trust that I would give my body what she needed when she asked for it. This meant packing extra snacks and eating WHENEVER I was hungry to rebuild that trust, and soon enough, eating became more natural.
4. I allowed myself to mess up. There is no wrong way to 'do' food freedom. You can not fail at Intuitive Eating- it's a lifelong journey of learning to tune out the diet culture messages and tune in to your body. But there were (and still are) times that I didn't tune into my body. There was a brief stint, in the beginning, with a popular diet program. There were binges that became more infrequent the more I allowed full permission and started tuning in to my body's needs. But the mindset of 'progress, not perfection' and 'feedback, not failure' kept me learning and present in my growth as I learned to navigate freedom with food.
5. I focused LESS on food. There was a time in my life ALL I thought about was food, and working out. Every minute of my time was mapped out to allow for enough time at the gym, every calorie and macro measured- every food item weighed. I didn't have a life outside of so-called healthy living. But that, my friends- was NOT a truly healthy life. A truly healthy life is one of BALANCE. Of nourishment, yes- but also pleasure and connection in eating and movement, with myself and others. When I allowed myself to enjoy OTHER things- movement for the sake of FUN, not calories burned (like rock climbing and hiking), reading more fiction, finding new fun adventures to go on with the kids- the more I LIVED outside of the realm of food and my body, the less hyper-focused I was and the easier it became to make decisions around food that served me, as a means of fueling and nourishing the REAL life I was living- and this is how I remain, today. I still LOVE food and enjoy movement, but it's a part of my life- not my entire life. Where to go from here: Did you find this helpful? Do you want to embrace your own freedom with food and start LIVING your life more? Here are a few ways I can help:
Download my free stress-free eating guide. This is a great jumping off point for beginning to find more freedom with food.
Join Uncomplicated Eating™, my signature self-paced food freedom course that will teach you the exact steps to go from stressed around food to a flexible, nourished and easy relationship with food and your body.
Join us in The Supermama Society, my online group coaching membership designed to help moms find more freedom in food and embrace balanced eating, with a supportive community by their side (and me as your coach!)