By Emily Edling, Montclair State University Graduate Student, Aterra Intern, and Future RD
Move to connect with your body, not change your body.
Diet culture can take our attention away from the connection with our body (whether it’s our innate hunger cues, or pushing it even though our body wants rest). We can be pretty disconnected from our bodies when we are relying on external cues about what we "should" or "shouldn't" eat, or some arbitrary goal of XX steps. Diet culture’s "should" rules can become ingrained in our minds in a way we might not even realize.
Intuitive Eating is about reconnection with ourselves. It encourages a shift in our attitudes not only toward food, but also toward movement and our body image. I have experienced a transformation in the how and why of exercise. I used to be rigid about what was "counting" as exercise for that day or week. It was a "good" week if I exercised a certain amount. But I wasn’t very in tune with my body. Intuitive Eating helped me take note of those diet culture rules that were driving my exercise.
Instead of the external cues of "I should," I’m more in tune with what movement actually feels good and that I enjoy doing. Before, I was exercising with the goal of changing the shape of my body. I was pleased with myself when I perceived results, but had negative thoughts toward my body when those perceived results weren’t coming as quickly. But, why? Was I any less worthy of positive thoughts about myself or my body if there were no "results"? (The answer is no! I am worthy either way.)
I’m also more motivated to head out for that short walk, not because it’s on my wellness checklist of must-dos, but because it’s helping me connect with my body at that moment. I have taken note that my body feels better when I’ve had some movement. And some days, I’m feeling extra fatigued and I intentionally skip the walk.
Intuitive Eating authors Tribole and Resch emphasize finding joy in movement as one of their principles for nourishing our healthy relationship with food and our bodies. I appreciate this distinction from diet culture. There is a lot of room for interpretation for what this movement could mean for us individually. Whatever your ability or preference, there is refreshing freedom when we aren’t exercising to change the shape of our bodies, but connecting more with our amazing bodies.
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Blog Disclaimer: Everyone's Intuitive Eating journey will be different. While I am a registered dietitian, I may not be your dietitian, personally. All blog posts are for informational and educational purposes only and may not be the best fit for your personal situation. Information shall not be construed as medical nutrition therapy or advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. It is not intended to replace individual nutrition care or nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian. Always check with your own registered dietitian and physician or medical treatment team before trying or implementing any information read here.
If you choose, Aterra Nutrition would be happy to help you in your own, individual nutrition and intuitive eating journey.