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Eating What You Love is Like Saying “I Love You”

By Rebecca Scritchfield

Eating-in-a-loving-way

Have you ever had someone tell you that eating whatever you want is bad for your health? Maybe you have felt that way yourself. I believe that choosing to never diet again is the best way you can say “I love you” to your body.

Diet Culture Makes Self-Love Hard

Since we live in a diet culture that says dieting is the “normal” thing to do, it can be difficult to see diets for what they really are: Restrictive rules. It does not help that so many experts promote weight loss as a healthy goal for everyone.

Think about it in terms of a romantic partner. Would you want a partner who is controlling, deprives you of all your favorite things, and constantly leaves you disappointed? No way! Diets promise weight loss and tell you life will be better, but they consistently fail. Life is better when you talk to yourself with kindness and take care of your body — not when you just keep trying to make it smaller.

Ever heard a supposed “health guru” say “This is tough love!” What? There’s no such thing! What kind of healthy love relationship grows from meanness? “Tough love” isn’t motivating and doesn’t lead to positive changes in your life. When the guru blames you, or you blame yourself, you feel unloved. You can’t hate yourself healthy.

Why Eating What You Want is Love

Eating in a loving, mindful way means you trust your ability to make choices that feel good to you. It’s not about the virtue of foods as “good” or “bad”; it’s about the context and your overall eating pattern. “I’m hungry… (here’s how I know) and I want to enjoy (insert food interests/craving).”

Whether you really want that crisp salad with ranch dressing, crunchy apple with smooth peanut butter, or a creamy bowl of ice cream with a cherry on top, it’s just one choice. Healthy eating is a pattern and there is room for all of your favorites. You can always find ways to boost the veggies, fruits, or beans to your meals (or get them at another meal) without having to give up food you love. This feels like food freedom!

Why Eating Calmly is Love

If you’re thinking, “But I can’t control myself around (fill in the blank),” have you ever thought that depriving yourself may be the main reason why you are struggling with that particular food?

We all deserve to feel good. It makes sense that you associate eating with being calm, relaxed, and happy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions and craving the “bad foods” according to past diets, you know that the food isn’t really the problem!

Body Kindess Book Cover - CopyPausing to notice the emotional trigger and say “This craving is emotional hunger, not physical” is a very powerful way to love yourself. Take care of your emotion first and then make a plan to enjoy that food you really craved when you’re not feeling so out of control.

If you’re one of the many people who have been scarred by diets or body image issues, myself included, eating whatever you want is the way out of the endless on-the-plan, off-the-plan cycle.

(Based on Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN. Am I Hungry? readers can save 25% off Body Kindness through 2/28 with the code: KIND at Workman Publishing. https://www.workman.com/products/body-kindness)

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About the author

Rebecca Scritchfield is a well-being coach, registered dietitian nutritionist, certified health and fitness specialist and author of the book, Body Kindness, lauded by the New York Times Book Review as “simple and true” and Publisher’s Weekly as “a rousing guide to better health.” Through her weight-neutral mindfulness-based counseling practice, she helps people create a better life with workable goals that fit individual interests. Get her free Body Kindness e-course at www.bodykindnessbook.com

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