Toxic messages that are disguised as promoting "health"Feb 03, 2021
Permission, body connection and trust are three foundational elements in my Cognitive Eating Academy that clients always struggle with and this is going to be a bit of rant about how sad that is to me.
Perhaps I find it so sad because I lived it so I know how awful it is but truly - doesn't it make you sad to know that we have an entire population of brilliant, responsible, capable adults that are literally terrified at the concept of being able to decide for themselves what they want to eat or of trusting their own bodies to know what they need.
And it infuriates me that we live in a world in which grown adults don’t trust themselves to make these most basic of human decisions for themselves especially because that the reason they don’t is supposedly because “healthy eating”.
It's a DIRECT result of everything we've been taught it takes to live or eat healthy.
Not only are these basic concepts of making our own choices or trusting our bodies foreign to us, we’re actively taught to distrust and fight against our bodies from the time we’re little and again insanely enough, in the name of “healthy living”.
Many have parents who try to micro-manage everything they eat while they’re growing up - because they think they’re doing their best to teach them the “healthy” way to eat or keep them from gaining weight.
“Treats” are only allowed on special occasions or used to comfort in ways that make them all the more appealing and potentially habit-forming.
They’re warned against eating too many treats - because whatever you do, you don’t want to get fat.
They’re told they can’t get up from the dinner table until they’ve cleaned their plate - they’re not asked if they’re full, they’re told how much they need to eat.
It teaches distrust, and introduces fear over food and growing bodies from a young age.
And when they get out into the world literally EVERY message surrounding “healthy” eating or living involves phrases like...
“Fight your cravings”
“Build your willpower muscle”
All of which literally condition us to believe we cannot be trusted to make our choices and worse, we have to actively fight against our own wants and needs.
Just take a look at the image I used for this post. This is the norm. This food is good and this food is bad. Eat this. Don't eat that.
But, what if you need a little protein right now? What if you're starving and the salad isn't nearly enough to fill or satisfy you right now? What if lettuce makes you gassy and gives you heartburn?
Nope. Doesn't matter. Eat this, not that. This is good. That's bad. Because skinny chick in the pretty picture is telling you so.
So you better ignore and resist what your body wants or needs and have the thing she says is "good".
How is this messaging (that we've become SO accustomed to because it's become so normalized) healthy?
How is it healthy for someone to tell you to “resist the temptation” of, or "build the willpower” to fight against, your physical or emotional hunger?
And why are you supposed to do this? Because that someone supposedly read one of a billion different studies that supposedly claimed eating this food with that food or not eating between these particular hours (or whatever) are the “healthiest” way for your body to eat?
Do they know your body? Do they know why you’re hungry right now? Do they know why you’re hungry for that particular thing right now?
Nope. Nor do they care. They just keep shouting, try harder and "build that willpower muscle" so you can "resist temptation" and follow their “healthy” rules because this random study said to (and I guess you're supposed to ignore the billion other studies that say something completely different).
So you try. You devote your whole life to trying.
All the while, getting more and more disconnected from your body and what it actually needs.
Your inner world becomes a war zone of back and forth arguments with yourself over what you think you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Confusion, distrust, disconnection and fear rule every day and drive every choice.
Are you healthy and happy from it all yet? No, because they keep pushing the “willpower” message that...
You have to keep trying harder to ignore and fight against your body.
That’s what we’re supposed to believe is the healthy way to eat and live?
I know, I bought it too for a lot of years.
But one day I simply decided - no more and now I call bullshit on ALL of it.
I’m an adult and I don’t need anyone else to tell me how to behave. I don’t need anyone else telling me what’s best for my own body. I don’t need anyone else telling me what’s best for my life. I don’t need anyone else telling me what’s best for ME.
And neither do you.
With that decision, I got busy learning to reconnect with ME and my body and everything, literally everything, shifted in the most beautiful way.
Because I trust myself and my body now.
I hear it when it's telling me what it needs. I know that it's smart enough to know. And I respect it enough to honor what it's telling me.
And you know what it tells me? It tells me when it needs rest. It tells me when something doesn't feel right. It tells me when it needs a drink. It tells me when it's scared or upset. It tells me when it's hungry, what it wants to feel its best and when it's full.
And I listen.
The fact that that's such a crazy concept to most people should tell you everything you need to know about how toxic health and wellness industries have become.
Do you trust your body? Do you trust yourself to just eat what you want without always second-guessing or being afraid of what you think you should be eating?
The scarier it feels, the more your life would likely benefit from it.
Try it right now.
Stop what you're doing and breathe.
Notice your breath... deep breath in, deep breath out.
Be present with the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body.
Bring your attention into your body. Notice any sensations you're feeling - starting at your head and moving all the way down to your feet.
What are you feeling right now? Where are you feeling it?
Settle your attention anywhere you notice the most sensation.
Keep breathing & keep your attention there.
Now ask... how do I feel?
And... what do I need right now?
Notice how different it feels to land in your body in this way and simply ask yourself what you need versus being stuck in your head with all the back and forth over what you think you "should" or "shouldn't" eat or do that you're completely disconnected from it.