Every May 6th, for the last 20 plus years, No Diet Day is celebrated in various countries across the globe. It is a call to consider the alternatives to the restriction,weight-cycling, self-abuse and self-hatred that most of us experience when stuck in the world of dieting. I know those characteristics ring true for me when I reflect on my years of deprivation. Dieting deprived me of so much more than calories!
So, in staying with the theme of No Diet Day, here’s a question to ponder:
What would your life be like if dieting wasn’t a part of it?
Kori Kostka (of KorNutrition) and I just recently presented together at the National Eating Disorders Information Centre’s bi-annual conference. The title of our presentation was “Nourished Body: Eat, Play and Be Mindful” and the content is the basis for our workshops, retreats and (you heard it here first folks!), forthcoming book.
We liken the concept of moving away from dieting as a journey. A journey is different than a goal. It is not a straight line or a narrowly defined destination. Rather, the journey is a unique and layered quest of self-discovery with various directions to choose, challenges presented and obstacles to overcome. Although Kori and I cannot give you the map or a set of specific instructions to follow, there are some guiding principles that may help you on this life-enhancing adventure that has nothing to do with diets and everything to do with your well-being in body,
1. The beginning of Your wellness journey
A calling, maybe coming in the form of a whisper that comes from the deepest part or yourself that is looking for connection and kindness.
2. Change the Conversation
Letting go of the diet and fat talk, no longer noting your behaviours in dichotomous thinking of good versus bad and reframing the dialogue of your inner critic to support you, rather than knock
3. Honour your own cues
Tuning into your body’s needs of nourishment in food, movement and other self-care practices.
4. Savour the experience
Movement and food are meant to be enjoyed! Use all of your senses to explore the joys of eating, as well as look for physical activity that is fun and engaging for your body.
5. Nurturing emotions
Sometimes emotions will be part of eating and that’s OK. Gently nudge yourself towards other ways of soothing those feelings so that food is not the only coping mechanism, numbing agent or distraction.
It can be difficult to harbor love for your body. Especially if you have punished and criticized it for so long through years of diets and deprivation. But, maybe shifting that approach to treating yourself with kindness – the way you would treat a dear friend in their time of need – would at least give you a more positive, internal support system.
7. Embracing resistance
Challenges or obstacles are inevitable in every journey. There may be instances where old behaviours resurface and you may even consider returning to dieting. Give yourself the space to explore what are those barriers. Consider feeling your way through it, as opposed to thinking your way through it.
8. Managing two worlds
Unfortunately, as much as you might fully embrace the Nourished Body journey or another weight-neutral approach to your well-being, you will still be bombarded everyday with diet culture. It means there is a constant balancing act between knowing the marketing giants and well-meaning loved ones will still be enticing you with their various messages around health, weight and the ideal body but that true well-being can be so much more than just about the number.