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You aren’t what you eat (now, I actually imply it)


Studying Time: 7 minutes

This put up is a part of my “Know Higher, Do Higher” sequence, during which I revisit an previous weblog put up that makes me cringe as a result of my pondering has developed considerably since I wrote it. The textual content of the unique put up is in italics, with my considerably snarky present notes in plain textual content.


Observe: I wrote the unique put up again in 2010. As with my earlier “Know Higher, Do Higher” put up, this was within the interval after I was taking the science courses I wanted to use to grad faculty to review diet. Diet wasn’t my occupation but, but it surely was my passion. And I used to be totally on the healthism practice. Despite the fact that I had some sense of the inner challenges that might get in the way in which of merely following diet suggestions, I didn’t totally perceive the extent to which individuals’s previous experiences with meals and physique — together with being placed on diets as youngsters, meals shortage, and trauma — might affect their potential to nourish themselves and apply self-care that’s actually about self-care, not self-management.

Dissing dietary dogma

Currently, I’ve been doing a little bit of pondering over the truth that not solely can individuals be fairly dogmatic about how they eat (“Eat my approach or hit the freeway.”), however an terrible lot of individuals appear to type their id round how they select to eat (“I’m vegan/vegetarian/paleo/macrobiotic/a locavore, due to this fact I’m.”)

Whereas I imagine wholeheartedly that we’re what we eat within the sense that the meals we eat present the uncooked supplies our our bodies want for issues like mobile restore and power manufacturing (and, in case you’re pregnant, for rising a complete human being), that’s all bodily. I additionally imagine that consuming high quality meals not solely supplies us with high quality uncooked supplies, however it will probably additionally contribute to our psychological well-being. So there’s a psychological facet, as effectively.

However is that every one we’re? Our bodies and minds? These issues are vital, to make sure, however take into consideration your family and friends, these nearest and dearest to you. When you think about all of the qualities that make them the distinctive people they’re, it goes approach past physique and thoughts. Name it soul, name it one thing else, however you already know what I imply.

OK, the entire above is just about OK. It’s completely true that many individuals are dogmatic about their diets, and really feel that their approach of consuming is the ONE proper solution to eat. It’s additionally true that elements of the meals we eat (carbs, protein, fats, fiber, water, nutritional vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) present gas for our our bodies and cogs for the wheels of its equipment.

I’m unsure what I used to be getting at with that third paragraph, however studying it now I might interpret it as the concept that meals isn’t just gas, not simply vitamins. It’s pleasure, it’s a medium for reminiscences, it’s a part of our tradition, it’s one thing we are able to come collectively round. If that’s what I meant, then I nonetheless agree with that!

Now, enable me to go off the rails…

food moralizing 2
Denial just isn’t a river in Egypt

I’m precisely the identical particular person I used to be seven years and XX kilos in the past. Positive, I’ve discovered some new issues and had some new experiences since then, and people issues assist form my evolving id, however my core id hasn’t modified. Which is one purpose it actually shocks me typically after I come throughout photographs from again then. I appear to be a distinct particular person, however I’m not.

To begin with, I redacted the precise quantity I gave relating to my weight reduction on the time. Numbers like which have the potential to be triggering, and clearly I knew little about consuming issues after I wrote the unique put up. I believe there was some humble bragging happening there, too, which annoys my current day self. I agree that my core id has remained the identical no matter the place I used to be in my weight biking. Every of us is who we’re, at our human core, no matter what we weigh.

As for the shock of previous photographs? Additionally a really human phenomenon, and one I assist a few of my shoppers grapple with right now. I believe it’s all the time good to be reminded that we’re not 2-dimensional pictures, that a photograph solely captures a fleeting second in time, and what we had been doing and who we had been with when that picture was taken is extra vital than how we glance in that freeze body.

Our worth just isn’t within the dimension of our our bodies of the meals on our forks

It’s straightforward to beat ourselves up, not less than just a little, as a result of we don’t weigh what we wish to weigh or didn’t eat how we although we must always eat right now. It may be a wrestle typically to stay to a wholesome path, however life presents plenty of struggles…why ought to meals and physique weight tackle such significance that we typically imagine that it’s all we’re?

You aren’t your weight loss plan.

You aren’t your denims dimension.

You aren’t a loser in case you don’t eat healthfully.

You aren’t a paragon of advantage in case you do eat healthfully.

Straightforward to beat ourselves up not less than just a little? Effectively, that was an enormous understatement! What I understood then in regards to the detrimental affect (and prevalence) of internalized weight stigma and physique hatred clearly would have solely stuffed a thimble.

My speak of struggles was a little bit of B.S. on the time I wrote this, I used to be most likely previous the darkest stays of my borderline-orthorexic tendencies, and was coasting in that dream state of getting misplaced weight and more-or-less maintaining it off. (I.e., the part of regaining regardless of sustaining my meals and exercise habits, which occurs to just about all dieters, hadn’t begun in earnest.) I actually thought, at the moment, that I might be a “profitable maintainer.” That I might be a unicorn.

What I mentioned about not being your weight loss plan or your denims dimension, or not having your value and advantage decided by how “wholesome” your meals is? That’s true, however I’m unsure I 100% believed it after I wrote it. I used to be feeling fairly virtuous at that time.

food moralizing 3
Judgments and misinterpretations

I admit, I typically interact within the little psychological sport of “let’s decide individuals based mostly on what’s of their purchasing cart.” However I all the time really feel dangerous after I do, as a result of there was a time after I was removed from good (“Hi there? Pot, meet kettle.”) In fact, I’m not good now, both, as a result of nobody’s good. Perfection isn’t attainable, nor ought to it’s, otherwise you’d have nowhere left to develop as an individual.

Perfection isn’t attainable? True! (Says the recovering perfectionist.) And I nonetheless really feel dangerous after I take a look at someones purchasing cart and see a reflexive judgmental thought. I blame the insidiousness of weight loss plan tradition.

I really feel higher now than I did XX kilos in the past, however I don’t really feel morally higher. Bodily, I really feel higher, just because transferring round on the earth with much less physique weight is simpler. (Duh!) I take pleasure in searching for and stitching garments extra now. I do like how I look within the mirror (and photographs) higher now. I benefit from the peace of thoughts of understanding I’m doing all the pieces I moderately can to guard my present and future well being. However aside from that, I’m the identical ol’ me.

Effectively, that’s a load of crap. I did too really feel morally higher! That was a part of my “feeling higher,” interval. However my feeling higher bodily? That most likely had extra to do with the truth that I used to be fairly energetic (unsure how compulsive I used to be at that time…I could have backed off to extra cheap ranges), and had good power and endurance, which is a privilege that not everybody has entry to. Even at a better weight right now, I discover the distinction after I examine occasions I’ve been tremendous busy and transferring much less, or solely normal-busy and transferring extra.

As for having fun with searching for garments extra? That factors to systemic issues, as a result of the upper your clothes dimension, the less the interesting clothes choices. (Though issues have a lot improved since I wrote the unique put up.) And I used to be clearly hinging my physique picture on how shut I used to be to society’s “skinny superb.” I used to be additionally subscribed to healthism, which brings its personal type of morality.

food moralizing 4
Ewww…I used to be so uninformed

I don’t throw across the phrase hate frivolously, however I’d hate somebody as a result of they kick puppies or deal with their kids like utter crap, however hate somebody as a result of they’re a vegan? Or as a result of they eat meat? Or as a result of they weigh 100 kilos greater than what might be wholesome? Completely not. But there are numerous who do hate for exactly these causes. It’s ridiculous. Could I provide a pleasant facet of perspective along with your meal tonight?

Hell sure I’d nonetheless hate individuals who kick puppies or abuse their kids! And all the remainder of that is true, apart from the sentence “Or as a result of they weigh 100 kilos greater than what might be wholesome?” Let me unpack that. First, the “than what might be wholesome” half is icky, and proof that I knew nothing at that time in regards to the faultiness of analysis that tries to equate weight with well being. It additionally was very cavalier in regards to the hate half: I don’t suppose I had any clue at the moment of the utter vitriol directed at individuals, particularly girls, who’re in fats our bodies. Vitriol that solely elevated as social media turned extra part of our lives.

“Sufficient” has to come back earlier than “wholesome”

I wish to assist individuals eat extra healthfully and be extra energetic as a result of I finished the “earlier than” and the “after,” and I do know “after” feels higher. I believe lots of people get caught in a rut the place they’re consuming lots of junk, and so they don’t really feel their greatest, and so they don’t understand it’s doable to really feel higher. Or they do know, however they only don’t know the right way to begin to make a change. Or perhaps they’re afraid that in the event that they make the change to more healthy meals, they received’t take pleasure in their meals as a lot anymore. These are dilemmas, not ethical failings. And so they can all be remedied, if individuals select to take that first step towards change.

This paragraph is a sizzling mess of truths and not-truths and good intentions. Sure, individuals get in ruts. Sure, individuals wish to change however aren’t certain the place to start out. Sure, many individuals assume that “wholesome” meals doesn’t style good. However “junk” is a really judgmental phrase, particularly when utilized to meals. And after I was speaking about “after,” I used to be most likely speaking pondering “weight reduction” although I didn’t really write it.

Truthfully, some wholesome meals doesn’t style good…my husband nonetheless received’t let me reside down the tofu pumpkin mousse (it was actually gross and you possibly can completely style the tofu) I made again after I was “afraid” of pumpkin pie. Sure, plenty of meals which are “wholesome” and nutritious additionally style good. Nevertheless, if somebody is hesitant to attempt new issues, and these meals are unfamiliar meals (or if they’ve a historical past of meals shortage, then, sure, that’s difficult. Ellyn Satter’s “Meals Hierarchy of Wants” is useful for understanding why focusing solely on “wholesome” meals will be placing the cart earlier than the horse.


Carrie Dennett is a Pacific Northwest-based registered dietitian nutritionist, freelance author, intuitive consuming counselor, creator, and speaker. Her superpowers embody busting diet myths and empowering girls to really feel higher of their our bodies and make meals selections that help pleasure, diet and well being.

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