Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Balanced Dietician podcast. How are we feeling today? I’ve been feeling good the last few weeks. I always kind of forget how my mental health is impacted by winter until we get into spring again. Every spring I just feel like a different person.
It’s really interesting because when I think about that, I also think about how most folks who do the healing journey, to have a better relationship with food and their body, will experience something similar. When you have a not-so-good relationship with food, we kind of know it’s not great, but we don’t realize how bad it actually is until you’ve healed. When we can look back and just realize how things used to be, we realize how far we’ve actually come; pretty cool, right?
This week on the podcast I want to talk about our healing journey; what it actually looks like, and what’s included in that journey.
As you may know, I am a registered dietician by trade. I am an expert when it comes to nutrition science and really understanding our body and what our body requires, and I believe that we cannot talk about a relationship with food without addressing our relationship with our body.
For most of us, our relationship with food wasn’t always bad. It started to get tricky we were trying to manipulate food in order to change our body. Body image is often the source of our food relationship issues.
Most dieters start dieting not because they want to restrict their carbohydrates, sugars, or fats, but because they want to try to lose weight.
Most dieters start dieting, not because they enjoy the process of restricting their food, but because they’re really hoping that it’s gonna impact their body composition.
So if we do the work to heal our relationship with food, but we don’t do the body image work, it feels kind of like a bandaid solution; we’re not doing the deep work that started the problem.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE DISCUSS:
[06:03] The body positivity movement
Chances are you’ve heard the term body positivity, and I think we often start believing that that needs to be the goal. First and foremost, the body positivity movement was a movement created in 1960s by people of colour in larger bodies, it was a movement and shift in thought in body acceptance; a movement about being able to showcase that all bodies are good bodies. Overall, it is an amazing movement.
The way people use the term ‘body positivity’ nowadays, seems to be more about loving your body and loving yourself. People associate body positivity with looking in the mirror and being super proud of who you are and feeling beautiful in your skin. In the end, it seems like the goal is body love, and I think there’s actually a lot of things wrong with that.
We don’t actually need to be “body positive” and love our body to do the body image work. Loving your body is not a prerequisite to taking care of your body, showing up with your body, and living a beautiful life. You don’t need to love it; You can but it is not a requirement.
[10:15] The body image spectrum
When it comes to doing the body image work we’re talking about, in the Balanced program we work on a spectrum. When we think of a spectrum we can understand that it’s not a one-way street. We’re not just trying to get from one side to the other.
On the one side of the spectrum, we do have what we would call body hate. This can be extreme discomfort in our body, dislike towards our body, and hate towards our body. This is often where we can start when we are a dieter, or even if you haven’t been dieting; a lot of us are just taught to hate our body. That’s a taught behaviour.
[10:53] Body respect
From there the first step is body respect.
I don’t need to love it.
I don’t need to like it.
None of that needs to be there, but can I find ways to respect my body? This can be in how we talk about or think about our body, but it’s also in all the behaviours that we do on a day-to-day basis.
[11:13] Body trust
Next, we move into body trust. This is where we get to start trusting our body more and building that relationship. You don’t just meet someone and start trusting them immediately, right? We build trust with our bodies the same way we do with people, which can take time, especially if there has been distrust in the past.
If your body could not fully trust you because it didn’t know when it was going to be fed, that trust needs to be rebuilt. In the same way, we also need to feel trust for our body. We want to trust that it is good and that it can handle what it needs to handle without us micromanaging it all the time.
[11:57] Body neutrality
After that, we can move towards body neutrality. Body neutrality can often be something that starts to happen when we work on body respect and body trust. It’s a state where we’re just start to feel neutral about our body. Our body just is. My role is to take care of it. I Need to feed myself. I need to make sure I sleep. I need to hydrate. I need to move.
[12:33] Body appreciation
Then we can move into body appreciation. This is where we can start showing gratitude towards our body. It can be appreciating things that our body allows us to do, or things that our body does for us.
[12:51] Body confidence
Then we have what I call body confidence. Contrary to it’s name, this is not ‘I’m so confident.’ ‘I love myself.’ ‘My body’s amazing.’ Body confidence means that, no matter how I feel about my body, I know that my body is good. I have confidence that this body is my body. It’s a good body no matter how I feel about it.
[13:21] Body acceptance
Then we get to body acceptance, which I think is a very difficult one. This is when I fully, truly accept my body here and now with no conditions. No matter the pains, the aches, how I feel, how it looks, I accept it fully.
[13:43] Body liberation
The last place on our spectrum, is body liberation; Some people also call this body peace or body positivity. This is when we get to a place where we just love our body unconditionally, no matter how it looks or what it does. It just is. We are fully liberated from being attached to the way we feel about our body and how that interacts with our day.
There can be a bit of neutrality around the body here too, where our life’s purpose is no longer tied to the body that we have. This earth suit of mine just allows me to be in this world, and that allows me to do the things that I want to do. My worth is not tied to it. My value is not tied to it.
That’s the spectrum, and although it feels like a step-by-step process, doing body image work, and the end goal, can look different for everyone. Ideally, the goal, and the goal that I have with most of my clients, is to live a life where our body and our relationship with our body empowers us to live the life that we want to live. We want the relationship we have with our body to allow us to show up in the way that we want to show up. And that is the big goal.
That is what we want. That’s what I would want for you if you want that as well.
Again, I believe that body image work is extremely important as part of the overall healing work. Yes, it can be challenging, but you can do hard things.
You are capable.
Maybe you need the tools, maybe you need support and guidance; I get that. You don’t need to do this work alone.
I’m so excited for you, and if you are ready to do this work I am here for you. You deserve to feel at home in your body and this is the first step.
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