Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and told yourself “I breathe too much”? Or looked at the person next to you and thought, ” they look like they breathe less than me, I should try to breathe like them”. Has the thought of “If only I could breathe a little less or a little slower, I would be happier” ever entered your mind? I am going to take a leap here and say no to all of the above.
There are four basic needs that we as humans must meet in order to survive. We need air to breathe, water to drink, shelter for protection and food to eat. I have been learning a lot about the anti diet culture and thinking about why we as a society set one of these absolute necessities apart from the rest.
Why is one basic function of our body so normal and unquestioned, while another is obsessed over and clothed in shame? We trust that our bodies will do what they have to in order to bring in enough oxygen. . If I chase my daughter around the house, my breathing rate increases. I would never hold my breath or try to stop my body from getting the air that it needs, but how many of us have ever denied ourselves FOOD when our body signals to us that we are hungry?
We may be knowingly suppressing our bodies cues that are telling us (maybe even screaming at us) that we need nourishment or we may be so far removed from these cues that we cannot even recognize them. Restrictive eating holds our body back from operating the way that it is intended just as restricted breathing would.
Growing up in a diet culture, many of us do not think twice about restricting food or shaming ourselves for not sticking to some predetermined number or amount we or someone else thinks we need. At the end of the day, you would never count your breaths and say, “looks like I’ve reached my limit, better hold it until morning”. Have you ever done so with food?
As a health professional who has spent years in school and early practice learning calorie counts and forming meal plans, this new way of thinking is a serious learning process. I have always HATED talking to people about their weight. But I’m a dietitian and that’s my job, right? There is just so much more that goes into helping someone meet their individual health goals and to find balance around food. Focusing on a number or outward appearance is just so.. judgy. Discovering that there is a whole community of people and an abundance of sound research backing this approach has been a serious game changer in the way that I want to practice my profession.
Whether you are a part of the anti diet movement, just beginning to get your feet wet at the idea of intuitive eating, or are an avid dieter, I hope this provides some food for thought.