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Shifting the focus

Posted Mar 01 2013 12:52am

Hey there, blog world, did you know it’s NEDA (national eating disorders week)? Probably since posts about it have been blowing up cyberspace for the past several days. I wasn’t planning on posting anything about it since I wasn’t feeling like getting all mushy gushy or anything this week and I’ve shared enough about my past with all of you that I don’t need to say more. Not to mention I’m not one of those people that really walks around preaching about events like this but this was something that I felt benefited people far beyond those in the disordered eating community.

Last night I went to a talk at Sheppard Pratt  with Christine, which, if you aren’t familiar with it, it’s one of the top eating disorder treatment centers in the country, both inpatient and outpatient.

SheppardPratt_ced_logo_color2007 I’ve been there once before to visit a friend and let me tell you. This place is incredible. It is it’s own little city when you drive in. It took me 10 minutes to figure out where the conference center was. They are big on raising awareness and since this week is NEDA, I decided to try and attend at least one of their events.

The one I chose was called “Shifting the Focus from Weight to Health: Real life facts & Strategies for supporting a healthy self, a balanced family, and a culture of acceptance.” The entire event lasted just over an hour and I’m not going to tell you every little detail because a lot of it was focused on parents raising kids to be intuitive eaters. Clearly I’m not planning on reproducing anytime soon (cough ever cough) but I do want to highlight some of the more useful things I did take away from the lecture.

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The speaker is an RD at the hospital and head of the outpatient clinic. She began by introducing why it’s important to stop obsessing over the weight and start looking at overall health. 

Why? Because weight is exclusive and health is inclusive. When someone is obsessed with losing weight, it triggers negative body image, guilt, shame, rules, and eventually can result in disordered eating patterns and significant impact on mental health.

On the other hand, if you focus on body acceptance, you develop those normalized eating patterns and find a trust in your body. You exercise for fun not punishment. The rules go out the window and your overall health and wellness improves drastically.

Dieting is a scam. The weight loss industry profits $20 billion dollars each year. It’s set up to make you fail. That shouldn’t have been a shock to me, but I definitely raised my eyebrows in surprise. It doesn’t work because it’s imposing these rules on us of what we should do, can do, can’t do to lose weight. The worst part? It backfires. 

feelings of deprivation and guilt

What is considered “normal” eating? It is…

…Meeting your own nutritional needs for your own body.

…establishing a positive relationship with food.

…addressing underlying issues that impact eating and attitudes, such as your upbringing (clean plate club, anyone?)

…devloping comfort with a variety of foods. Guess what? You can have an apple AND an ice cream cone!

…moving away from the dieting mentality.

…enjoying eating experiences. Food is not scary. Being able to attend birthday parties and social gatherings with food is not a reason to panic- it’s something to have fun with and take comfort in.

That all or nothing approach is not normal.

How do you reach this normal eating pattern?

Two words: intuitive eating.

I’ve never met anyone able to do it other than my roommate. She has this ability to eat when she’s hungry whether it’s at 9am or 4pm. She stops when she’s full and if she’s not hungry during a “meal time,” she won’t eat. I’m consistently blown away by the comfort she has with food and it’s definitely something I strive to reach after the talk. Surprisingly enough, people who are able to eat intuitively have lower BMI’s and a variety of other health risks than those who have this diet mentality. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised…

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject the diet mentality- ditch the rules
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Respect your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Honor your feelings without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise- feel the difference
  10. Honor your health through gentle nutrition-your body will feel good if it eats good foods at regular times

Pretty simple, right? You would think…my biggest struggle today is honoring my fullness and hunger. I have no concept of either of them and the cues have all been thrown out the window. I really could work on all of the principles, though, since this is something I’m really working on lately. It’s terrifying to trust yourself to know what to do, what your body needs, and just letting go. But once we do, we will be happier and healthier.

I’ll leave you with the same quote she left us with.

The scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity

Have you ever been to a talk like one of these?

Have you switched to intuitive eating?


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