Finding Food Freedom
Something that I notice a lot of people struggle with is making choices in their recovery or while pursuing Intuitive Eating (IE) and food freedom, and wondering if it’s still colluding with diet culture and/or their eating disorder. This can feel tricky and confusing, but I try to simplify it and ask: what’s the intention behind a decision? This is what matters more than the choice itself. It can certainly feel like a slippery slope, and remember: it takes time to fully understand what decisions are coming from your inner self vs external rules or previous eating disorder/disordered eating behaviors. However like most things, it seems to be that the more you practice it, the more adept you will become.
Certain things that often come up that diet culture or eating disorders do not get to take “ownership” of include: vegetables, salads, smoothies, physical activity, and meal prepping/batch cooking/the like. Food freedom includes all of the above foods if and whenever you want them! Joyful movement is also a principle of IE, so yep you can enjoy that too (emphasis on the joyful - let’s stop prioritizing physical activity that we detest). Additionally, If meal prep and planning ahead helps to simplify your week for you and/or your family, and ensure you’re adequately nourished, then that’s a great option too.
However if your intention behind including any of the above items (or anything else that may be a factor for you personally as those are only a few common examples) is in an effort to change your body, then it’s time to rethink why this is of importance to you.
Eating disorders and the cycle of dieting also provide a function to the individual utilizing them. They can feel protective or provide a sense of control or safety. It’s crucial to identify what these behaviors are providing to you and work alongside a therapist and/or Registered Dietitian to determine ways to achieve these feelings in a much more safe and appropriate way.
I will leave you with an exercise - it can help to give your eating disorder a name and personify it. This is a helpful activity as it provides a way to externalize the ED, which creates distance between you and the disorder, as well as personifies the ED to help parse out what values you hold and what values may be coming from the ED. Clients in the past have said the ED feels like a police officer, a judge or just a mean and nasty person. Give it a try and see what you can come up with. This may serve to make it easier to figure out intentions behind behaviors you may be utilizing, and see what function these behaviors are serving to you.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy Memorial Day weekend!