Guide to Finding Food Freedom

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In the world of social media where we see a constant stream of “clean eating” meals, sweaty selfies after intense workouts, and transformations from following new diets, it can be hard to listen to what you actually want to eat.

It’s hard to eat intuitively in our society that’s full of nutrition facts and health obsession.

Many of my clients have a goal to build a healthy relationship with their body and listen to it, but it can seem near impossible with external rules and food facts getting in the way. In fact, many of my clients know more about exact calories in foods or the newest food trends than I do. I know because I used to calculate calories constantly in my head and google nutrition facts many years ago.

When I discovered Intuitive Eating, I had to consciously let go of nutrition facts and “unlearn” a lot of health facts in order to listen to my own body. When I did that, I started to build trust in my body’s wisdom and its natural cues, and get comfortable feeding myself without overanalyzing every bite.

Too often, nutrition and health turn into an obsession and your entire lifestyle rather than being only one beneficial part of your amazing life. By letting go of the obsession, you can go start to trust your body again and rebuild your relationship with food in order to nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Here are four starting steps I recommend:

  1. Take inventory of your nutrition, health, or weight control “tools.” Take a look around your house for body and food scales, diet or health books, or tons of workout videos or equipment. Browse through your social media sites and the people you follow – are you constantly seeing food, meals, workouts, body transformation pictures, or health obsessive messages? Yes, many health books or workout videos may be useful to help you learn to take care of your body, but removing them at first can be incredibly helpful to create a new relationship with food in the future.
  2. Take a look at each, and ask how it makes you feel. Do you feel ashamed of yourself when you see others’ perfect meals or bodies after working out? Do you end up changing how you eat and how you feel about yourself after weighing yourself?
  3. Start to gradually get rid of or hide these tools. Unfollow people on social media or stop reading blogs that are encouraging disordered eating behaviors. Move your scale out of your room, or get rid of it. Try a scale smash! Donate old diet books. Start to open up space and energy in your life.
  4. With this new time and energy in your life, explore other hobbies and passions. Read fiction books. Study a foreign language. Explore a new hobby, or rediscover one that you loved in the past – perhaps art, writing, or photography. Make plans with friends. Get outside your comfort zone in a safe way.

By removing these tools that support disordered eating thoughts and behaviors, you create space to explore new things in your life, because there is time to focus on other things rather than thinking about food your entire day.

It also allows you to explore your creativity and create a life outside of your eating disorder.

It’s still important to challenge your thoughts and beliefs around food, but it’s easier to do that when you’re not constantly bombarded with pictures of food, dietary extremes, and facts. By removing these tools, you can start to trust your own body and challenge the food rules you’ve picked up over time.

Start this today! Open your favorite social media app, and start to evaluate and unfollow people as necessary. Follow Recovery Warriors or myself if you haven’t, then get off the internet, and explore the world!

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8 Comments

  • This post in particular really strikes true for me. I practiced the steps outlined above without really being aware of what I was doing and I witnessed a complete reversal of negative feelings and behaviors. This article just rings incredibly true. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely pass it on. Love it! Personally, I find it incredibly freeing to only eat foods that are what they say they are and not have to limit myself in that regard, in the early stages of recovery I find that it helps you feel safe and secure and not as traumatizing when you might overindulge. It’s also fascinating that when you listen to your body, really meditate on what it wants and needs, it generally tells you. It’s crazy and magical how that works.

    Anyways thanks for posting!

    • Thanks so much for reading Warrior V 🙂
      That’s incredible that you followed the steps & it worked – sounds like a great tool for you to keep in your recovery toolbox. The body sure is wise when we take the time to listen – just remember it’s a skill to learn how to listen to it again.
      Lauren

  • @WarriorV The body is an amazing communicator when you listen to it. It’s great that you are experiencing this 🙂

  • This is brilliant advice! Staying away from scales and from images that make you feel inadequate is essential for us all..

  • This really resonated with me. One of the hardest parts of starting the recovery process for me has been trying to distance myself from the ‘diet’ and ‘weightloss’ mentality that our society promotes. You should eat certain foods and feel guilty about others – it is taught to us at a very young age through the media.

    One thing I also found difficult is the fitness community on Instagram. There are so many young women particularly continuously posting pictures of their bodies and what they have achieved and how they met their calorie goals etc. It is constantly a competition.

    I think now as social media plays such a big role in our lives, those who are struggling or are prone to behaviors NEED to be able to identify when someone is sending an unhealthy or unrealistic message. Balance is key!

    • Hi Kayla!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Like you said, it’s so important to find balance in social media – it can be so helpful, but it’s so important to have those critical skills of knowing what is harmful vs helpful. For someone in recovery, even posts that are meant to promote health can be triggering.
      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Thanks for this article. I realise that it takes me a lot of time to choose what I decide to eat. Lunch at work is where it really materialises itself as a trigger for anxiety. A number of variables come into place, from how much energy I need for my runs, to the protein and sugar content, to how the calorie content etc. I sometimes go to the same food all week & by Friday I feel pretty sick of it. At home, it’s a bit better because I have more choice, but in restaurants, the same battle starts. So Many voices in my head giving conflicting advice. I call it the diktat of choice. I am a recovering bulimic, and I usually binge on the foods I don’t allow myself, but when I have tried allowing myself small quantities of these foods I still binged. How do I free myself?

    • Hi Warrior C,
      What if you were to start asking yourself what you’re craving at lunchtime? See if you can come up with a few ideas of what you really want vs choosing from rules around calories, protein, sugar, etc. Feel free to check out my other articles on the site too for more ideas!
      Lauren

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