Body Image · Intuitive Eating · Recovery

Body Trust

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– Nayyirah Waheed

I just finished listening to an episode from the podcast Food Psych this morning, which by the way is an excellent podcast about intuitive eating, body positivity, Health at Every Size, and topics related to making peace with food. This particular episode, titled “How to Trust Your Intuition about Food,  featured an interview with intuitive eating coach Daxle Collier in which she shared her experience in healing her relationship with food. Near the end of the interview, Daxle affirms that “if weight gain is a fear, then body trust is not possible. And if body trust is not possible, then the self-awareness and intuitiveness of intuitive eating is not possible.” These words hit me hard as they have been difficult for me to come to terms with in my recovery.

“If weight gain is a fear, then body trust is not possible. And if body trust is not possible, then the self-awareness and intuitiveness of intuitive eating is not possible.”

– Daxle Collier

I wholeheartedly believe in the healing abilities of intuitive eating, and I have basked in the freedom, peace, and lifey-ness that it has brought back into my life. However, for many years of my recovery, I put a condition on my commitment to intuitive eating. I would allow myself to eat “intuitively”, following my hunger and cravings, as long as my weight stayed in the range I was comfortable with.

I was following what many people have termed “the intuitive eating diet” (which is not true intuitive eating by any means). I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full while also ensuring that I did not “mess up” by eating past fullness. I rebelled against the diet mentality of good food and bad food, allowing myself to eat any food item I wanted- as long as I didn’t have “too much” or gain any weight. You see, I had put these limits on my dedication to intuitive eating, and consequently, I had limited my recovery and the extent to which I had allowed my relationship with food to actually heal.

This was neither food freedom nor truly peaceful. Every inch I gave myself came with a set of rules and limits. I could eat candy but not too much. I could have a bagel but only twice a week. I could eat out but had to take some food home as leftovers. Rules like this did not come from my body’s intuition. They came from my eating disordered mind that still looked for guidelines within a way of eating that urged for the eradication of rules and guidelines. I wanted to make sure I was doing this whole intuitive eating thing right, which in my mind was determined by my weight staying the same.

This led to a couple years in a place of limbo between my eating disorder and recovery. I was semi-committed and semi-recovered. And while it was better than having a full-blown eating disorder, it still sucked. I never felt truly free from food during this time. I was surviving but not thriving.

Flash forward to now.

My relationship with food is constantly evolving, but the one thing I’ve found true above all else is that I must make peace with my body in order to completely heal my relationship with food. This means allowing my body to be the weight it wants to be, even if that’s not where my head (and this fatphobic society) want. This has been a difficult process which has involved mourning the many false promises of the thin ideal as well as accepting the struggles that come with rebelling against a body-focussed world.

I strive to move towards body love, although I am currently in a place of practicing body acceptance. I have my good days and bad days still. But overall, the good outways the bad, and I notice it getting easier over time. I’ve learned that focussing on my body’s abilities and practicing gratitude helps me immensely. I’ve discovered that getting outdoors and connecting with something more in life helps to shift my priorities from my appearance to my true values. And I continue to learn more about my body and grow in my relationship with it daily. It’s a constant practice that I do my best to commit my energy to.

But the best perk of putting in so much hard work in the realm of body acceptance has been the shift it has produced in my relationship with food. Letting go of the constant fear of weight gain has allowed me to finally trust my body. Don’t get me wrong though, there are still days when weight fear pops up and I question my body’s food judgment; however,  I’ve learned to challenge those fearful thoughts and talk back to them. I ask myself the question: what’s really not okay in my life that’s leading me to hyperfocus on my body right now? This guides me to the true deeper insecurity that actually needs to be addressed for my healing.

Knowing that I can trust my body, I aim to allow my body to take care of food decisions for me (and leave my head out of the equation as best as I can). Yes, sometimes I “mess up” and eat beyond fullness, but that is intuitive eating. It’s allowing those moments to happen and showing myself compassion regardless. It’s allowing the freedom for flexibility and the permission to eat in a way that nourishes both the body and soul.

It’s allowing those moments to happen and showing myslef compassion regardless. It’s allowing the freedom for flexibility and the permission to eat in a way that nourishes both the body and soul.

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