Last week, I posted a small video on my insta story about diet culture and fighting all the negative and self deprecating talk that happens this time of year, and I said that I wanted to do a blog to collect my thoughts. I have so many swirling thoughts on this manner that I could probably do quite a few posts, but I want to portray what I'm trying to say as efficiently as possible.
I noticed this Thanksgiving it wasn't as bad as it was at Halloween. Maybe the candy is what did it and people truthfully did enjoy time with their families at Thanksgiving. I hope so, but the diet talk still continues as we make our way into the Christmas season.
You don't need to know my story to get an adequate picture, but I think that it helps to give a timeline. When I was 18, I started my first diet which led to heavy restrictive eating and massive amounts of weight loss. I wiggled my way out of that into a binge/restrict phase of disorder. I soon found bodybuilding and competing, and that allowed me structure for the first time (that I called "healing"-ha but at the time it felt like it). From there, I moved into counting macros. From macros, I moved into intuitive eating and then intuitively eating plant based with some macro counting. Now, I'm finally in a phase that I will happily say I'll never place another label on what I'm doing ever at any time nor have any kind of food restrictions/rules. That doesn't mean I don't eat mindfully and healthily or that I don't count macros some days. It's just...normal life and where I hope many can land.
At the end of the day, different things work for different people and also those same people have different things that work for them in different seasons of their life. And when i say "work for them", I don't mean a specific diet but rather just something that is in place that is how they eat during that season of life.
I think that when I hear diet talk around the holidays, it reminds me of awful times of binging and restricting. I want so desperately for people to not go through what I did but we live in a world that literally promotes it around the holidays. Binge all during the holidays then restrict come January 1st. But, I say with sincerity that if you are there, I've been there. You are not going to figure out this food thing on the first go around. If you see my story above, you can see that it has taken me a lot of time and journey's to get where I am.
There have been so many things pop up about what to do during the holidays, and it's so hard to put into words how I feel without it still ringing with many as with an air of dieting. However, I just can't wrap my head around the binge culture. We set ourselves up to be on a cycle in America where we have no choice but to start a new diet in the new year where if we had just listened to our body's natural cues throughout the months, then we wouldn't have to do so. I know that these cues are hard to listen to and it takes a little bit of introspective awareness and knowledge of nutrition to be able to do so. And when I mention cues, I mean also the cues that tell you that you do in fact want to eat something past the point of perfect fullness because that mentally feels good. There is no diet that needs to follow. It's just you enjoying your food and the experience .. like a child again.
To be able to silence the voices in your head that tell you that this food is only going to be here for ONE day of the year is very important. That's not to say that you shouldn't look to your grandmother's pie as a special occasion and have a slice. I think that this is most definitely what you should do, however that doesn't mean that you leave somewhere feeling sick because "it's the holidays, YOLO." The art of YOLO in dieting is giving in to diet culture because inevitably you know you can "correct" what you did through a diet. If you don't go on that diet (which most don't and the research shows that almost 0 people can long term stick to diets), then you will have the weight from the holidays there now too. Over the years, this builds and builds and simply by the rejection of dieting during the holidays and the inability to diet come new year leads us to a really unhealthy society at large.
And it's all because at the end of the day, we are obsessed with dieting. If we weren't so obsessed with dieting, then we wouldn't be so obsessed with the food. I know that this sounds really odd and backwards but in our brains, we give ourselves a "pass" at the holidays because whether mentally or physically, we are always telling ourselves that we can't have those foods during the year if we are "being good." You hear terms like "I fell off the wagon" when I don't even know what this proverbial wagon is. Like, I get it. Of course I get it. But, sometimes I just wonder at what point or what age does this become irrelevant and we just eat with our family's whatever we want, in any amount that we want, with knowledge of what makes our body's function and feel their best and not talk about it. Does that happen? Do we get to 80-90 years old and diet culture still runs through our brains?
I actually think that it does if we don't learn to fight it, and I think that because of the internet, girls are seeing it younger and younger without the maturity to know how to handle it other than to give in to what they are told, or the older generation just thinks that it's normal. And maybe it is. I don't think that people are sitting around during the holidays thinking about diet culture and weight stigma and intuitively eating. We just go about with what we are taught, but what if we fought back.
What if we just enjoyed the holidays without a plan for the future? What if we ate at every meal without thoughts of the previous or future ones?
What if we took the foods that we know make us feel good and leave it at simply that and eat them in abundance because we know we will function mentally and physically at our best and not reject them because we are "not dieting during the holidays" and add those in with the pumpkin pie?
What if we recognized that we can in fact make pumpkin pie ANY day of the week if we so choose and that we can make every single casserole that we see at an event and that we don't have to go balls to the wall with it right in front of us?
When I started macro counting, it was my desire that it led women to a place of peace that they understood that all foods have a macronutrient component to them that is made up of fat, carb and protein and that when they ate those foods in a certain ratio, this would produce results without hardship. This could extend into the holidays not so that they could count but so that they could use these tools to knowledgeably make decisions on what would make them feel good. Naturally, I've seen over time, that with many, this becomes a literal obsession. They get confused asking questions if they should count on Thanksgiving, if they should count the day after, should they make up for this meal in the following day, should they track at the beginning of the day or eat less to account for the meal at the end of the day.
It's intriguing to be how we create problems in our head when our body's were naturally designed to be able to function by themselves giving us internal and external cues of how and when and how much to eat.
I want to say also that if you are someone that isn't to a healthy place but you do wish to be mentally or physically, then just know that you aren't alone sister. There are so many out there that are navigating these waters and unsure day to day especially with every different blog post coming out of which diet to choose, and then watching documentaries on Netflix that leave you thinking that unless you drink water and eat lettuce, then there's a carcinogen and you.will.die. Be gentle with yourself during the holidays. Don't allow yourself to fall into the guilt and rejection cycle. This is the guilt that follows after a day of rejecting the diet culture. Lean into NOT rejecting diets, but rather just listening to what you want. Sit in that. Quiet your voice and listen to what you want.
And don't let anyone pressure you into thinking that all of this diet culture is normal. There is no need to binge, talk about macros, talk about making up, talk about starting fresh in January. The only need is that you enjoy time with your family and allow your brain to escape for a bit just relaxing into what makes you FEEL your best. If that is copious amounts of pumpkin pie, then BY GOLLY eat it in abundance. Don't say "SCREW THE DIET. GIVE ME PUMPKIN PIE!" No. Just eat it. Because it's food, and enjoyable, and meant to be enjoyed without the pressures around us telling us that there needs to be some sort of rule that is placed that it's only allowed at certain times and in a certain manner because we will "make up for it later."
I hope this is portrayed in the manner that I wish it to be, and know that many times it can almost just be even more confusing. I just simply want women and men to be able to eat ... in peace. That's all <3