Below is a letter from one of our patients about their journey from chronic dieter to becoming an Intuitive Eater. For confidentiality- this post will be anonymous.
Branz Nutrition Counseling- "For most of my life, I have correlated the size of my body to being loved and accepted. The smaller I am, the more lovable and acceptable I am. Always trying to be more acceptable, meant dieting at a very early age. I was rejected by Weight Watchers at age 10 because I was too young and didn’t need to lose enough weight to be eligible for their program. In order to join diet programs, you have to be “unacceptably big” to be accepted. so, at one point in my life, I was literally too small to be accepted and too big to be accepted. And that is the catch with diet programs and relating food to love and acceptance. The goal then became to be big enough to be accepted by the diet programs so that I could learn the secret to being lovably small. When I finally did become large enough to be accepted by Weight Watchers, I was 12 and only had 7 lbs. to lose based on their health charts. As it turns out, it takes a lot of effort to disrupt your body’s natural tendencies toward health and homeostasis. Hear that message: IT TAKES A LOT OF EFFORT, ENERGY, TIME, AND INVESTMENT TO GO AGAINST YOUR BODY’S NATURAL STATE.
It’s hard work, too - 24/7 no vacations, no sick days, no rewards, just hard work. I realize now that if dieting was a job and diet programs were my bosses, I would quit in a heartbeat. That’s what I did. I quit, or at least, I am in the process of quitting. Years of diet mentality is not something you walk away from so quickly. The childhood dieting led to more extreme dieting in my adult years - to the point of being so desperate that I had weight loss surgery. It worked great for a time until it didn’t. Not only did I start gaining the weight back, but I was struggling with eating itself. I couldn’t keep food down and I never knew what was safe to eat. By the time I reached out to Erica for help, I was literally living on bread and cheese. Erica helped me try food and eating again. I found courage and empowerment in her support. As it turns out, there are real and identifiable triggers that cause me to get sick, but with only a few exceptions, the actual food is not the danger. The danger is following the rules instead of listening to my body’s cues.
With Erica’s guidance, I am learning to trust my body. I am learning to trust that MY BODY IS THE EXPERT in what it needs to function at its best - not outsiders and not my thoughts or feelings. My body was designed to know and tell me what it needs. That is the newest discovery I have recently made - what I call “quieting the noise”.
Noise is all the things that contradict my body and work to keep me from trusting my body to know what it needs.
If you pay attention, it’s easy to identify external noise - commercials for diet programs, criticisms/judgments/comments about my body or eating habits or food intake by others, the segregation of plus size clothing in stores. It’s all around. However, the internal noise is just as present and it’s not always easy to identify like self-deprecating or self-critical thoughts either. It can also be simply challenging the message your body is sending. The other day, my body told me what it wanted for breakfast. Prior to my work with Erica, I would have denied myself altogether - this was not a “good breakfast food”. So, allowing myself to eat this food was a major accomplishment - I quieted the external noise.
However, I started questioning my body. Did it want a sweet something to go with it or more protein? I was making suggestions to myself that overrode what my body was telling me because I was afraid of not following “the rules” again. I was trying to be “good”, to be “healthy”. So, I chose to only eat what my body said it wanted. I quieted the internal noise too. I had a delicious breakfast that was satisfying. I didn’t get sick, I didn’t gain 5 lbs. (things I fear) and I didn’t have to work so hard. I just did what my body told me to do. It was both easy and liberating.
I didn’t have to make a food choice or know and comply with a million contradictory rules. I just ate what my body said it wanted - and it felt good. It’s still a work in progress, but I am learning daily to quiet the noise and let my body be the expert. I think, though, the most important lesson I have learned is that I have wonderful people in my life who love me for me - not based on what I do or don’t eat or what size I wear, but the person that I am. I discredit and discount their love when I buy into the dieting mentality. I lose a lot of time trying to be something they never required me to be for them to love me. Giving up the dieting, the rules, and the noise has given me the freedom to trust, appreciate and accept love from others as well as myself."