On my morning run, I overheard someone say, “I have eight more days until I am done with this diet!” I hear this too often.
As a dietitian, I recognize that we live in a world of fad diets, quick weight loss programs, and promising pills to look slimmer; and we have put our lives in the hands of a “diet” system that provides hope. Often, we are left feeling like a failure after repeated cycles of weight loss, weight gain, and chasing the next diet.
With food, we cannot opt out. We must eat. But without a diet, without a plan, what are we going to do?
Instead of following a diet plan we hate and can’t wait to end, perhaps it is time for something different: to build a relationship with food. And not because it works, but because this relationship is actually a relationship with ourselves.
Adversary or Partner?
Our food can either be our adversary or our partner. When food acts as our adversary, we develop a negative outlook. It makes us think of food as being “good” or “bad.” Sweets like doughnuts are commonly labeled “bad” or “off limits.” We then feel the exact same way we chose to label those doughnuts. Often, we unconsciously label ourselves by our food choices and food becomes a mirror image of how we see ourselves. Though disturbing, the reality is that food is a scapegoat and tool we use to avoid addressing the underlying reasons as to why we feel a lack of control, lack of self-worth, or lack of motivation.
In a healthier relationship with food, we put on a new set of lenses that can allow food to be recognized as our partner and allow us to eat in a self-loving way.
I see what we eat as an extension of self-care and love. Choosing to grab that apple or salad is the act of loving self. Choosing the healthier option honors and heals because it reflects choosing what honors us nurtures our self-value and self-esteem. When we interact with our nutrition this way, we disconnect the emotional ties and past habits and instead establish a new foundation of peace, balance, and positive self-talk.
As a dietitian against diets, I don’t believe in counting calories; I believe in making every calorie count. I also believe that by loving ourselves first, we can then let our food choices become our true mirror image and not depend on “diets.” Then, we will start to see our nutrition as our lifeline and partner, living in harmony, not as an enemy.
Want to learn more? Listen to our full conversation with Reshaunda on the Unwasted Podcast!