I often hear people talk about how food freedom isn’t achievable for them and how they’ve tried it in the past and it doesn’t work!
So, I wanted to take the time to address this because when we think of healing your relationship with food and our bodies, we may have had some experiences of trying to let go of dieting, and have it go sour for a lot of different reasons.
I want to explore 6 different reasons why your previous attempts to food freedom may not have gone as planned!
This can include physical restriction and psychological restriction. If you want to learn more about the difference between the restrictions, you can listen to my podcast episode “Types of restrictions and what to do about them!” where we really explore the difference between the two in detail.
Often times, you may feel like you aren’t restricting because you are telling yourself “But I’m giving myself permission to eat all of these foods I wouldn’t have eaten in the past”. While this is FANTASTIC and a great step towards food freedom, you may not realize that there are still some subconscious food rules dictating and controlling the extent to which you truly “let go”.
You may be allowing yourself to eat chips again, however you are only allowing yourself to have a small bowl because you are afraid to overeat. This is still restriction.
Ironically, although we fear overeating, the restriction actually increases your chances of overeating and feeling that sense of loss of control. You may eat a large amount of these foods that you have been restricting for a long time at first, however, putting a cap on it and trying to control this food will not bring you towards food freedom. You need to lean into this feeling to understand what your body Is telling you. I promise you, everything will balance itself out.
I know, it’s hard to wrap our heads around this one because that fear of letting go and not restricting is real and intense. That’s okay, it’s all part of the process in reconnecting and trusting your body.
As a dietitian, it’s something I look at very closely.
You may be trying to give yourself food freedom, but you have this idea that our bodies need very little food to function. We are convinced by diet culture that we need a small amount (which they make it seem like it’s a large amount) of food and calories, but in reality, the amount of food that diets are recommending are the average energy requirements of a toddler.
Yes, you can argue that our needs change as we grow older, and I would argue back, that you’re right! Our bodies do not need the average daily requirements of a toddler as a teen, young adult or adult. WE NEED MORE THAN THAT! Our bodies are expensive, therefor we need food and we need calories.
If we are constantly not eating enough, even if it’s not coming from a place of intentional restriction, your body reacts the same way. It will still try to push you to eat in some capacity, whether that is increasing your thoughts and cravings, or getting into that primal hunger state where you are just like “I don’t care anymore”.
So, making sure that you are eating enough is going be huge step towards truly unlocking food freedom.
If you still believe that a larger body is not a good or as good of a body than a thinner body, if you still have thoughts about fat bodies not being adequate and still striving for the “thin ideal”, it is going to be extremely hard for you to achieve complete food freedom.
By believing this is true, it will make it harder for you to:
Having a good relationship with our bodies is necessary to also have a good relationship with food. So if we continue to experience and not address our internalized fatphobia, it’s going to make food freedom a lot harder.
I don’t want you to feel shame or guilt for having any type of internalized fat phobia, a lot of us have it or used to have it because of the society that we’re in. However, we can’t ignore the immense power acknowledging our biases has and being able to bring awareness of those thoughts that we have around different body types can serve as another gateway to accessing food freedom.
Mhm, that’s right! You may think you are listening to your body, but really what you may be doing is listening to what other people say you should think and feel about your body.
This can include Instagram or TikTok influencers who have “what I eat in a day” segments, and if it’s someone we admire, we may feel like we need to eat this way too. Or, it might be using tools like calorie counting, or logging things into My Fitness Pal. Trying to use external measures to tell you what you eat, and not relying on your body, can be a way to disconnect us from our bodies and keep us from attaining food freedom.
We need to let go of those external guidelines of “she eats this, I need to eat that too”. Ask yourself, are trying to focus on what other people are doing instead of focusing on what you like and what feels good for you?
This is when food doesn’t bring us true satisfaction, or we find ourselves eating foods that are not enjoyable for us. It’s basically like having a boring nutrition!
You need to nurture your body with foods that provide you nutrients that also nurture your cravings and your desires! This is how you find pleasure in eating!
Make sure that you’re actually enjoying the foods that you’re having and that you are enjoying the experience of eating. Sometimes you won’t always like the foods that you eat, but there are other ways to make the meal or the overall experience more enjoyable.
I did my meal prep a few weeks ago, and what I made didn’t turn out well. I tried something new, and I did not fully enjoy it. Well, it wasn’t terrible, it was still edible, but it wasn’t my preference. Now I’m not going to waste the food, so I decided I’m still going to eat it. This means that my satisfaction at the meal was lower than anticipated because I didn’t actually like the food. HOWEVER, I set myself up outside, I made myself a nice drink and added one of my favourite playlists. This made my overall experience eating this meal SOO much better.
This is very similar to reason #1 and they go hand in hand.
Often, we are adding more conditions to the freedom that we have around food. The more food rules we have, the more we feel controlled by food. We really need to work hard on letting go of all food rules and learning to let go.
Letting go does not mean that you’re eating donuts and chips all day long for the rest of your life. It means that you’re giving yourself the choice and permission to eat in a way that feels right for you, by taking away all of the conditions.
If food freedom has not worked for you in the past, try investigating what may not have been working. Did you really give yourself freedom or was it conditional? Did you address your internalized fatphobia?
If you want to learn more about how to eat guilt free and find food freedom for good, I invite you to join my free class. You will learn my step by step method to reaching food freedom, reducing food guilt and increasing body confidence.
To sign up, go to: www.TheBalancedpractice.com/signup
Check out my podcast episode “6 Reasons why Food Freedom hasn’t worked for you in the past”. In this episode, I explain the reasons outlined above and give you tips and tricks on how you can take steps forward to overcome these barriers and truly begin to live your life through food freedom.
The Balanced Practice is a team of professionals specialized in eating disorder outpatient treatment, disordered eating. Our mission is to help as many folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happily outside of diet culture!
We strive to provide evidence based nutrition counselling to support you, or your loved one, in achieving full recovery. Schedule a connection call now.
Marie-Pier Pitre-D’Iorio, RD, B.Sc.Psychology
Lead Registered Dietitian and Founder of The Balanced Practice