Monte Nido & Affiliates Director of Nutrition Anna Sweeney, MS, RD, LDN, CEDRD is an expert in the treatment of individuals presenting with eating disorders, disordered eating, and emotional eating. Anna shares a two part series about changing the food conversation in 2018. Read part one today and check back in next week for part two…
We’re in the midst of it now. The time of year when it is more common to hear people speaking about their diet, or exercise plan it is for people to be wishing each other well. I don’t know about you, but I’m bored. I want talk about something else, and starting here, let’s change the conversation.
Culturally, we are inundated by messages that tell us how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Calories are labeled on everything, and if you’re not digging on the acai bowl, you’re not taking care of your “health.”
These messages couldn’t be any further from the truth. Our bodies are designed to consume and assimilate a variety of nutrients. They can handle a lot of food, both in terms of volume, variety, and energy density. One thing that I see consistently is a lack of focus on enjoyment of food, and instead, a focus on the specifics of that food: how many calories does it have? Does it contain antioxidants? Will it help my digestive tract feel or work better? Will it cure my depression or my eating disorder?
As a dietitian, I’m firmly aware of the power of food. It can be nourishing. It can be healing. And it can also just taste good. Eating both nutritious and delicious food is required for a healthy relationship with food. In the diet-obsessed culture that we live in, food is being simplified and simultaneously made more complicated. Simplified in that there are specific rules that are culturally accepted as norm, and complicated by the extraordinary body disconnection that occurs when one is following rules.
There may be comfort found in the solace of food rules. Your eating disorder might be a little bit quieter; your dieting mindset might be temporarily sated. While you may experience some relief following rules, I’d like to remind you of the age old expression that Rules are made to be broken. Any binary way of thinking, good versus bad, healthy versus unhealthy, boxes us in – and in a way that our bodies do not require. In fact, binary interaction with food results in increased body disconnection, increased fear of food, increased shame around food, and a dramatic reduction in body trust.