Embarking on the journey of intuitive eating can feel like a lonely and difficult road – especially when the world around you seems to be on a diet. Loved ones can remain locked into diet culture through no fault of their own. Let’s not forget and respect the fact that you and I were once there too.
It can be most difficult when your own loved ones question or even criticise your journey. It’s usually only because they care about your health. So how do you master telling them about your journey, without them assuming that you’ve just let yourself go?
To make that easier, I’ve drafted an Intuitive Eating letter that you can adapt and share with your loved ones. It goes like this…
You may have noticed that I have been eating differently over the last few weeks/months. I am embarking on a new journey that moves away from my old ways of eating and thinking about food. For X years/months I have been on and off of various different diets. This has been affecting me not only physically, but emotionally/mentally too.
I’m done with [delete or insert as appropriate] tearing myself apart, despising my body, my weight yo-yo-ing up and down and steadily increasing with every diet I try, restricting my eating and then binge eating, punishing myself for eating certain foods, eating differently to others, not enjoying food, being bound by rules to tell me what, when and how much to eat and not being able to trust myself to eat naturally and normally.
I’ve hit rock bottom. I simply need to do something different.
I am embarking on a new and kinder journey that focuses on my health and healthy habits, rather than body size and weight loss. My health or my worth is not determined by a number on the scales. My weight will settle in it’s happy and healthy place when I am focusing on these healthy habits. I am working with a Registered Dietitian who is specialised in helping me through these difficulties (a specialist intuitive eating coach).
I am learning that weight is not centric to my health, and that the restrictions I placed on myself were fuelling my eating problems. They were turning me away from being kind and respecting my body and ultimately improving my health and happiness. I have also learned that the yo-yo-ing of my weight is actually linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The stress I faced most days around food and my body was not doing my mental health any good and it was distracting me from more important things in my life…[you could provide examples here].
My weight may fluctuate on this journey, and this does not mean that I am neglecting my health. You may even see me eating foods that I would previously have avoided or restricted myself from eating. Like cake and sausages! I am learning that eating a wide variety of different foods is healthy for my body and soul. I am learning that eating a salad does not make me healthy, and equally eating a cake does not make me unhealthy. I am learning to honour my hunger, respect my fullness, identify what foods actually satisfy me (versus what I think I ‘should’ be eating), reduce emotional eating and to separate my worth from my appearance – amongst many other things.
If my weight increases, that’s a sign that I am nourishing my body with an adequate amount of food for me. It’s a sign that I was previously eating in a way that was too restrictive for my body.
I understand that these concepts may be difficult to understand and may go against your own beliefs. They have been challenging for me too, but also make a lot of sense. I don’t expect you to fully understand my journey and I am pleased you’ve not had to experience the difficulties I have been through. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. I expect you to accept and respect the journey that I am on so that I can improve my relationship with food, my body and ultimately improve my health, without judgement, criticism or distraction.
This work is hard and being questioned or criticised by loved ones can make it even harder. You can’t expect they will understand it all at once (or at all) and it’s important to respect their concerns for your health. After all, they may not know any different at this stage. The most you can do is lead by example, educate and if any difficult questions arise, pass them onto me and I can help with a response.
You’ve got this. Go easy on yourself.