If you struggle with an eating disorder, can you remember a time when eating didn’t bring up feelings of guilt or shame? When you didn’t experience some fear around not following your preferred meal plan or diet?
Diet culture has caused a rupture in our ability to enjoy food freely. Current societal norms around beauty still promote bodies that are thinner. When a person becomes super focused on their weight, it often leads to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma. It also negatively impacts their mental health. It can cause one to feel less than if their body doesn’t look a certain way and can escalate into feelings of self-hatred. These feelings influence more rigidity around food and can trigger an all-consuming fear response. Diet culture keeps a person stuck in this mentality, riding a loop of never-ending highs and dark lows.
At Evolve, our clinicians are trained to recognize these fear responses and support our clients in shifting the focus away from restriction and rules toward something better – pleasure! Can you imagine sitting down to a delicious meal in a beautiful setting and experiencing zero guilt? Can you imagine savoring the different flavors of each bite without anxiety? Pleasure is the antithesis of oppression (Brown, Pleasure Activism). Finding our own inherent pleasure within our bodies (from food or movement) allows us to recognize the deep capacity within ourselves to feel good. When we feel good (and decrease feelings of anxiety, shame, and guilt) our need for external validation decreases. No more roller coaster ride of emotions.
Evolve clinicians use an Intuitive Eating Approach which centers on removing barriers to your own sensory awareness cues. It is a framework that integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought. The goal is to reestablish trust in your own body again and feel a sense of freedom with your food.
Our clinicians also use a Health at Every Size (HAES) approach, recognizing the uniqueness of our bodies and each individual’s health journey. HAES promotes weight inclusivity; accepting and respecting the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and rejecting the idealizing of specific body shapes and weight. De-stigmatizing body size is a critical step in accepting your body.
Diet and weight can be very difficult topics to address. We want those seeking support to know that however they may feel, they are not alone and we understand how complicated addressing this internal battle is. We also know that recovery is possible. Many of our clients have been able to find peace with their food and their body. We welcome you to reach out to begin this journey for yourself.
By: Leah Ehinger, MSW, ASW, RYT