(139) I fear everyone judging what I eat (with Jenna Hollenstein)

Picture this: you are in a restaurant and really craving a burger. Or a salad. You freeze. Will people judge what you choose? Do you judge what other’s choose? And how does this get in the way of your Food Peace journey? Listen to this latest episode of Love Food with special guest Jenna Hollenstein RD author of Eat to Love.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

I have recently been on an uphill battle to try and fix our relationship. After countless years of living a secret life with an unacknowledged eating disorder- consisting largely of restricting and bingeing- I made the change to recognize and treat my disordered eating patterns. I have since been diagnosed with an eating disorder and am currently adventuring through the recovery process with a support system of professionals and loved ones.

Although I can feel and appreciate the changes that I’ve made and the growth that I’ve experienced, there is one recurring thought I cannot let go of. I feel that it is keeping me trapped in my eating disorder world. Currently, I am gradually increasing my food intake and attempting to diversify the types of food that I consume. However, I’m finding this to be a painfully difficult experience because I cannot stop thinking that everyone is constantly judging me for what I eat. Essentially, whenever I eat something, I believe that other people are thinking to themselves, “wow, look at her eating that…she is eating that because she is fat”. This thought is strongest if I were to ever eat food that is constructed as “unhealthy”, but is also present if I were to eat food that is constructed as “healthy” but consume a lot of it. For example, when I eat a restaurant, I fear finishing my plate because I assume that the wait staff will judge me for eating all of the food and will judge my body.

That being said, I understand that this is an illogical believe to have. I have countless pieces of objective evidence (e.g., from doctors, the number on the scale, the size of clothing I wear) that indicate that I am not fat, I am not overweight. Yet, this evidence doesn’t override my internal belief that my body is too big and that others are in agreeance with me. Throughout my recovery process, I have come to understand that I hold a strong core belief that my worth comes from my body and that I should always strive for a smaller body. I know this belief is problematic, but I can’t stop agreeing and believing it.

To add one other layer to this puzzle, this thought- where others judge my body and believe that I shouldn’t be eating because my body hasn’t achieved the thin ideal it has been striving for- is particularly difficult for me to let go of because I hold this judgment on others. I find myself judging others for what they eat and I tend to, in my mind, idealize those with small bodies and not hold them to this same judgment. This has been a difficult piece for me to accept because it makes me feel so sad and ashamed to think that I am doing to others what I fear others are doing to me. This fear has fueled so many problematic behaviors and I know it is so unfair for me to hold this judgment on others.

I am wondering how I can overcome this. How do I remove this judgment that I place on myself and on others? How do I let go of this tiring, inaccurate mind-reading game I am constantly playing? Will I ever accept my body and accept the fact that it deserves to eat food- and a variety of foods?

Sincerely,

A life of judging and judgment

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Weight loss is a seductive fantasy…here’s why.

Last week I wrote about body respect beginning with no longer pursuing weight loss. You may recall I mentioned weight loss is a seductive fantasy.

If you’ve been told your whole life your body is unacceptable, I appreciate this first step away from weight loss will feel like a deal breaker. I beg you to hold on and hear me out.

One thing is for sure: what you’ve learned so far about food and weight has brought you to this chaotic relationship with food. If you keep reading and apply this information to where you are now, I think it will empower you differently. Plus, you always have the diets to go back to in case you no longer want to pursue Food Peace (although I am hoping you don’t choose this!).

I think the pursuit of weight loss is a seductive fantasy. The weight loss quest gives you hope. Prior to the official start of every diet or food change, you make your food lists and your mind may feel clearer. The idea of starting a diet may even feel safer than moments before. I believe the start of a diet engages your mind in a daydream filled with hope, happiness, acceptance, and peace.

This is the fantasy.

This is the reality: we all are not meant to be thin or with a body mass index of 20 to 25. Your body prefers you to weigh a certain amount, your set point. From genetics and past behaviors, your body will be inclined to experience certain behaviors in order to get back to that set point after gaining or losing weight.

Do you experience cravings, binging, or food obsessions?

These behaviors occur after the body has been without consistent nutrition and not from you failing another diet.

It is you being a successful human.

If your weight is higher than some recommend, I bet you have focused on weight loss most of your life. What if the diet is promoting your weight gain, food obsession, and poor health?

What if the diet was to blame not you?

I hope this note helps you hold off on starting a diet in 2019. More on why soon.

Warmly,

Julie

(138) I keep eating out of anger and spite. Will I ever eat intuitively?

Have you decided to ditch diets and rely on hunger yet stuck? Maybe you are like many other people and find yourself so angry, always rebeling, and eating in spite of the false truths you’ve been told: diets will fix you and your body is not acceptable. Oooooh the lies you’ve been told! Pull up a chair and let’s discuss what to do next on this latest Love Food Podcast episode. This episode covers the 6 keys to Food Peace.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

I’ve been through ED treatment, which allowed me to have MUCH less stress in my life about food and dieting.

But now, I have so much freedom, but I’m not one bit interested in eating intuitively.

I’m almost eating in spite of everything I used to believe: I’m bad, I’m too fat, I’m unhealthy, I’m rebellious, I’m holding myself back from so many opportunities by being so large, etc.

Eating intuitively is hard when you’re SO angry.

Is this “eating whatever I want when I want” ever going to become normal? I just wish i didn’t have to think about this.

Sincerely,

Training yet Confused

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

6 Keys to Food Peace™

“With every diet ending, I failed three times: the diet didn’t work, I’m a quitter, and I’m still fat.” ~A quote from a woman at diet rock bottom

Have you been dieting for as long as you can remember and hate your body?

Do you feel addicted to food?

Do you binge or emotionally eat and tried everything to just eat normally?

This is diet rock bottom and there is hope. While most nutrition books teach you quick fix diets, Food Peace™ takes you on a journey.

This post serves to give you the basic framework to heal your relationship with food and eat normally without binging and without dieting. I write this post after 20 years working with people at diet rock bottom looking for another way to relate to food. They didn’t want to hate their body anymore and they knew diets weren’t working. After witnessing what it took for them to take these brave steps, I have gathered 6 key strategies to make the Food Peace journey.

This post is designed to read from beginning to end because the 6 keys build upon each other. The keys are also designed to be revisited when your Food Peace journey becomes bumpy and challenging. It can help you gather more healing tools by reading the parts you need in the moment.

Respect

If diets work why do you go on them every year? Dieting is a 61 billion dollar industry and an estimated 45 million Americans diet each year. The public is taught to need diets. Health professionals are taught dieting is a sign of self-care. You trust the diet industry with your life, but are you actually healthier? No.

Food Peace shows you how dieting is behind the weight changes, bingeing, and negative body image. Instead of improving your health, diets fuel your unhealthy relationship with food and promote body hate.

But if you have dieted your whole life, how do you eat? Every time you try to stop dieting, the binges begin. Eating without a diet plan feels scary and out of control.

Food Peace begins your journey by teaching you the first key, how to Respect your body. The teaching is more like unlearning the oppressive rules that dictate how you eat and move. You may not accept your body the way it looks today, and learning how to respect it by unlearning can help you step away from diets with less chaos.

Acknowledge your diet history. How many times have you tried to lose weight? You have pushed, tortured, cut out, abstained, and hungered long enough. Respect as it relates to Food Peace acknowledges that diets have only harmed and failed to produce long term results. You weren’t weak or lacking character. Diets didn’t work because you are a successful human that through evolution have been wired to survive famine.

You don’t have to love this part. Or love your body. You don’t even have to accept your eating or body.

Rather, let’s gently acknowledge that the tools you were given were flawed. They weren’t the right tools. They will never work.

Diets didn’t work for you because they don’t work.

Try with compassion to opt out of diet culture and the pursuit of weight loss. Keep in mind you don’t need to be fixed and it is ok if you don’t believe me yet on this.

Release

I appreciate the shame you are holding onto because diets didn’t work for you. It’s not your fault since diets are a shitty tool. You’ve been manipulated by big oppressive systems and massive rich corporations to believe you are to blame.

Because you’ve been successfully manipulated, you are wearing a very heavy shame cloak. I want you to identify shame’s role in your complicated relationship with food. Bingeing and food addiction experiences connect to diet culture’s manufactured shame and lack of permission for pleasure.

You haven’t fallen off the wagon all these years. It is time to burn that wagon down.

Connecting with who is to blame usually brings on a flood of anger. Ouch it can hurt and be uncomfortable especially if you don’t have permission to feel anger. I encourage you to experiment with permission for anger.

This pissed off rage makes up the second key Release. It is a vital part of fueling the Food Peace journey. It gives you the direction and places the blame where it belongs: off you and onto cultural systems like white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. And wow, is that heavy.

Food Peace in this place may feel scary and exhilarating. It won’t feel like you are connecting with hunger or fullness because this Release takes up so much space. You may literally feel as though you are full of anger that hunger and fullness cues will be miles away.

Many wonder how long they will be in the space of their Food Peace journey. Many long to connect with their body in a more neutral way and the anger is draining. There is no way to answer this because it is so individual. It depends on your lived experiences, your support systems, and the systems you must navigate to live your life. I hope you give yourself compassion while navigating this part of the journey.

Repair

Diet culture has been unkind and violated your human rights. I encourage you to experiment with giving yourself permission to be where you are in your relationship with food. This permission is a major part of repairing your relationship with food.

There is healing to be found in permission.

Altering your view of eating behaviors happens within the third Food Peace key, Repair. Harvest compassion, mindfulness, and nonjudgmental curiosity to your thoughts about food.

What does this look like?

When feeling rebellion while connecting to diet culture’s trauma, notice the craving to rebel and give permission (even if the permission feels experimental or awkward) to eat. If or when that permission twists into shame, notice this. Call it out. Remind yourself that shame is from conditioning and doesn’t belong to you.

Does this all sound too tough? Too much? That’s ok too. Permission belongs in that space too.

Repair work tends to allow for slowing down so you can connect with what your body is saying and needing and practicing a nonjudgemental response. This key is NOT about eating only when hungry and stopping only when full. That is not part of permission rather a perverse twist making Food Peace into a diet.

Healing is the most important part of Food Peace and vital for the Repairing.

Rewire

As you start to heal while repairing, you will gather the diet culture artifacts: food and body rules. The Rewire key helps you unlearn those rules and decide what you would like to believe instead. Going rule by rule, you build an arsenal, rooted in permission, of compassionate nonjudgemental responses to ingrained diet culture rules. Over time, this takes you from thinking about food nonstop to mostly when you need to eat normally, when you want to, and to promote health. I mention the word “mostly” here because no one is a robot and only eats when hungry and stops when full. Further, depending on your access to food and/or levels of marginalization this can change.

Do you have certain foods you always binge on? Do you have certain foods you can never keep in the home because they are too tempting? This Rewire space will help you have comfort and ease around these foods again.

For many people I work with individually, this is the place where studying Intuitive Eating often begins.

Reconnection

How do you know your body is hungry? How do you know when your body is satisfied? Are you meal hungry or snack hungry? Or panic hungry?

These are questions that can only be answered once respect, release, repair and rewire work have been done. Reconnection begins the process of relearning you how to rely on your body’s own ability to know how much to eat and what to eat. This step is simple yet not easy (a quote I first heard from Evelyn Tribole). Looping back to the other keys allows Reconnection to take place using hunger, fullness, and satisfaction guides.

Recommend (Advocacy)

Advocating for others not home in their own skin allows you to add power to your Food Peace journey. After learning these keys, you will want to spread the Food Peace message. This helps others not go down the path of diet rock bottom and helps you with your eating recovery. Picture a community circle allowing connections to the keys and permission. Let’s join together to allow more people to take this journey toward healing and make the world a better place for more bodies.

 

I have hope there are possibilities for you to heal your relationship with food and your body. You can learn to eat without dieting and hating yourself.

You can experience Food Peace.

It’s not body love or acceptance that’s first, it’s respect.

“If diets work for you, why do you keep going on them?”

If you are considering making 2019 diet free, let’s gather important intel to help you get through January aka The National Dieting Holiday.

When was your first diet?

Do you remember how you got the idea to start eating less, focus on weight loss, and exercise more?

Did someone say your thighs were getting too big?

Were you teased on the playground as the fat classmate?

Did the pediatrician tell your parents to stop giving you seconds?

When were you taught how to hate your body?

How long have you considered your body unacceptable?

Appreciating how body hate and rigid dieting started will help you begin your journey toward Food Peace. This first part of your healing will feel emotional and challenging yet I encourage you to stick with it. I see how the diet industry and health care providers have pushed you to lose weight and with each diet ending you felt (and feel) like a failure. This cycle is not your fault because you were given faulty tools. And these tools hurt your body and the way you relate to it.

In order to heal, take a step back and acknowledge these faulty tools. Consider how they were not respecting your body. Instead of dieting in 2019, I encourage you turn your focus to body respect.

What is body respect?

Popular social media memes tell you to love and accept your body. Most people I work with say they cannot love their body because it is unacceptable. Caring health care providers, parents, and friends have ingrained the idea that fat is unhealthy. Schoolyard bullies taught you your body deserves to be mocked and ugly. Insurance companies and employers blame you for increasing health care costs.

Every aspect of your existence has taught you your body needs to be fixed. The message has been clear: the only way to be acceptable is to eat less and exercise more. And you have spent your whole life trying and failing and trying and failing.

Body respect challenges these messages.

Your body is not unacceptable, ugly, or unworthy. Your body does not need to be fixed.

The messages are wrong not your body. It is time for you to know the truth about how you’ve learned to take care of your body and how cultural messages have harmed your relationship with food. Learning this key tool of Respect sets the foundation for your journey toward Food Peace. It provides the reasons why diets don’t work, how they contribute to your diet rock bottom, and how to start healing.

The Food Peace journey begins with its first steps: deciding to stop pursuing weight loss.

Because weight loss is a seductive fantasy.

I will share more on this seduction next week.

Warmly,

Julie