Body love

Ditching the Rules and Embracing Flexibility

One of the biggest thing diet culture takes away from us is our ability to “go with the flow” around food. Anyone who has ever been on a diet or restricted food in any way knows that it comes with a lot of rules. Eating is typically done by a schedule- breakfast at this time, snack exactly X hours later, no eating after one particular time. The meals and snacks themselves are meticulously planned, leaving you measuring out tablespoons of nut butter and counting out crackers at your kitchen counter while you long for the days when you could just reach in the box and grab as many as you wanted. There’s a meal plan and rarely deviation (or least rarely deviation without guilt). There’s structure and rigidity.

For some people, structure and rigidity are what they crave. I get it. I love structure- I like schedules and lists and rules to be followed. Historically, I have never been one to toss aside the directions- I like to make sure I’m following the rules step-by-step. And dieting/restricting gave me so much of that structure that I craved. There were things to count, things to schedule in, workouts to plan. There were calorie counters and mile trackers and meal plans to create. And for awhile, that was very comforting. Until it wasn’t.

There’s only so long you can meticulously plan every detail of your life before it starts to get a little….stale. Only so long you can spend your days neck deep in calorie counts and workouts before you start to get oh I don’t know….cranky, tired and miserable. There’s only so long that you can eat grilled chicken and steamed broccoli before you start to realize that you actually want a bowl of pasta.

This was my own experience- but I also see it reflected in my client’s lives all the time. The rules of dieting can be comforting- and moving to intuitive eating, where there are no boxes to be checked can be really difficult. Sometimes it can feel like being lost without a map. You just have to take it turn by turn and hope that you end up where you’re supposed to be. And while that can certainly be unnerving for awhile, eventually you realize it’s kind of…fun. You discover new things along the way.  You realize that there’s more than one way. You might make a friend. You might get lost in your thoughts and have an epiphany or two. You learn and notice all sorts of things that you wouldn’t have had you been glued to the turn-by-turn directions of your map.

Last night, I had a full homemade dinner planned. It was something I liked and something I had all the ingredients for. But when it came time for dinner, all I wanted was boxed mac n’ cheese. So I made that instead. There was nothing stressful about that decision. I didn’t worry about it. I asked my partner if it was okay if I mixed up the plans and then I made it. Eating is more fun when there’s room for flexibility (and in case you haven't heard, eating should be fun). When you don’t have to force yourself to eat things that don’t really sound good for the sake of rules or organization or “health” (frankly, I think it’s a lot healthier to eat what sounds good but that’s a conversation for another day).

Ditching the rigidity and structure of dieting can send us into a spiral. But if we open ourselves up to the possibility of fun and flexibility, we can shift our perspective and move toward a healthier relationship with food.

P.S. If you haven’t heard already, I created a new program called Finding Freedom. It’s a 30-day challenge with daily prompts to shift your mindset around food and body.  Plus, it’s entirely self-paced  so you can do it at your own speed. Learn more and sign up here.

 

Cover photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

The Only Detox You Need in 2018

Trust me, it's not what you think.

It’s about that time of year when the New Year’s articles start rolling in…the best detoxes, cleanses, diets, exercise regimens, blah blah blah. If you follow my work and know what I’m about, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that I have no interest in reading any of those articles. I don’t care about the trendy new diet. I have no interest in setting resolutions that will fall by the wayside by February 1 nor do I want to set resolutions that only exist to make me feel bad about myself. But after talking to clients, friends and family, I do find that there are a couple things that I think are worth detoxing from.

Toxic Social Media Messages
Social media is great and I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if it didn’t exist. But it can also be really harmful. There are countless “fitspo” accounts out there showing you supposed “inspiration” for your new workout/diet and don’t even get me started on those perfectly curated Instagram feeds showing only the prettiest smoothie bowls and green juices and pretty white women in $100 leggings doing yoga. And as aesthetically pleasing and seemingly motivating as those accounts can be, I find a lot of people use them to compare themselves and find ways in which they’re not “measuring up”. So my challenge to you is unfollow every single account that makes you feel insecure, less than or just plain bad. Diversify your feed and follow accounts that make you feel good about yourself. Jes Baker has an AMAZING resource of inclusive body positive accounts to follow. And remember this also means unfollowing any family member/friend who is constantly posting about their diets/weight loss. If that’s going to trigger you, hide their posts from your newsfeed. Your mental health comes first.

Body-Focused Resolutions
Diet-minded resolutions are definitely something to ditch in the New Year. Oftentimes, resolutions are focused on body weight/size/shape but the truth is that we don’t have much control over the size of our bodies so body-focused resolutions are frequently setting you up for failure. There are ways to make self-care resolutions without an expectation for weight loss- for example, to drink more water, try new fruits & vegetables or add in variety to your meals. All of these things are great ways to optimize health without setting any expectations about your body. By setting resolutions that focus on the way we feel versus the way we look, we are much more likely to be successful (and have a lot more fun doing it).

Other People’s Expectations
If you’re a people pleaser like myself, it can be hard to trust your inner voice when there are other people’s opinions and ideas and expectations to consider. In 2018, let that shit go. The only person you need to please is yourself. The only voice you need to honor is your own. Do what feels right to you and you can’t go wrong.

Foods You Don’t Like and Exercise You Don’t Enjoy
It is just not worth it.

Timelines
The New Year feels like a clean slate and there’s something about it that makes us all feel an extra burst of motivation and resolve. But the truth is you don’t have to make changes in line with the New Year- or a new month, new season, new week. You’re allowed to decide when the right time is to form new habits or make new changes in your life. For me, the New Year usually comes with a sense of urgency and expectation; like I must make these changes now or else. But there’s no need to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We’re all doing just fine and we don’t need to change to be worthy, lovable, good humans. So give yourself a pass if you’re not in the resolution-setting mood or if you want to just continue being your badass self in 2018.

Talk to you all soon! xo
Meghan

P.S. If your resolution is for more anti-diet goodness in 2018, you definitely want to check out my New Moon New Year January Redux program starting January 1. When you sign up, you're signing up for daily emails from me for the entire month of January that will challenge you and get you thinking about how to incorporate more food peace into your life this year (plus the possibility of getting private coaching sessions with me). Check it out here!

TBT: Refusing to Diet is a Political Act

Hello and happy Thursday! 

I'm doing a throwback today from a post I did around New Year's on Sundaes for the Soul (that website is offline as of right now, as I continue to transition to using this site for everything). Lately, it seems like I (and so many others) have been inundated with messages of weight loss, needing to diet, needing to have the "perfect" body, especially in the summer- but really, what else new? Those messages, unfortunately, exist year round. So below you'll find that post about how dieting is a political act (and can also be harmful to us) - enjoy and feel free to comment below!

This time of year is a deluge of weight-loss commercials, detox ads, gym membership specials. I can hardly turn on the TV without seeing an ad for weight loss (thankfully, I watch Netflix for the most part and can successfully avoid the weight loss madness). People are posting on insta their "fitness/body goals" for the new year. People everywhere are talking about how their going to commit themselves to the gym/veganism/whole food diet/gluten-free/dairy-free/low carb/no carb/low fat/no fat/paleo/alkaline diet. As much as I hate diet talk of any kind, I am compassionate towards people trying these kinds of things because our culture tells them they have to. A woman who isn't dieting is not trying hard enough. She doesn't care about herself, they'll tell you. THAT IS 1000% BULLSHIT. 

Dieting is the patriarchy's way of making sure women continue to live small. It was a years-ago thought up strategy to keep women on a hamster wheel of diets. Because as long as we stay on the hamster wheel, we're quiet. We are not speaking up or speaking out. We don't have the time or the energy to pursue our wildest dreams. We are quietly staying in the place where men long ago put us. Don't fall for it: you are so much bigger than the box dieting traps you in.

There's a lot of reasons I hate dieting. The patriarchal history is enough to infuriate me and abstain from dieting ever again (because I'll be damned if I ever let a bunch of old, white men tell me what I have to do with my body, ever). But also the physical and mental effects are horrible and dangerous.  It manifests a neurotic relationship with food. It makes you feel tired, foggy, in a daze. It teaches us to ignores our body's natural hunger cues. It teaches us to stop listening to our body all together, when it comes to both food and movement. If you want to know more effects of dieting, I strongly recommend you research the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Refinery29 has a great article that you can read HERE (also Kelsey Miller is an anti-diet queen and I highly recommend reading her book Big Girl). I'm planning on doing a post dedicated just to the Minnesota studies but suffice it to say that it is a fascinating read. 

Sweet girl (man/non-conforming human), I cannot tell you how much you don't need to diet. I cannot tell you how much you do not have to lose those last X pounds. I cannot tell you how little it matters if you fit into those size X pants. You are so worthy. You are more than worthy. You are a human being who has fought and loved and struggled and conquered in order to get to this place. You deserve to be here without condition. You do not have to change your body. An extra 20 minutes on the treadmill is not going to make you a better person. You are good enough, exactly as you are. I really, really promise. 

If you're ready to get off the dieting train forever, if you're ready to experience food and body freedom, I want to work with you! I am now accepting new clients to journey into intuitive eating, body acceptance and total liberation with. If you're interested, you can contact me here.  I would love to talk to you! 

Sending you the warmest wishes and non-diet vibes,
Meghan

 

What does food freedom mean?

The other day, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (not food/health/body positivity related) and the guest they had on that day was someone in recovery from an eating disorder. It’s the first time I’ve heard this topic addressed on this particular podcast (though it dominates many other podcast conversations I listen to) so I was interested to hear how it would go. The two women who host the podcast are comedians, though the podcast is about sex positivity so they’re very familiar with women empowerment. Still though, the topic of eating disorders seems to be outside their wheelhouse so I was curious to see how it would be addressed.

Ooooof.

The guest was an actress/stand-up comedian who had a history of anorexia. I won’t go into the inappropriate questions that got asked and inappropriate jokes that got made on both ends- I’m not immune to the unseemly jokes that sometimes happen in comedy; I get it. I also understand that this is an issue that I am very close to so my bias is strong. But the one thing I do want to unpack is how they talked about recovery.

The guest said multiple times that she was “in recovery” while acknowledging that it will likely be a lifelong process. However, when the hosts (inappropriately) asked her what she eats, she was still cutting out some pretty major food groups. When they asked more specific questions, it was clear that she was still following some pretty strict food rules.

Look, I’m not here to disparage this poor woman. I have boundless compassion for her. So many of us (myself included) have been in that place. And I’m truly happy for her if she feels like she’s in a better place than she has been in the past. But I think it does a discredit to eating disorder recovery and to everyone who is looking for freedom from dysfunctional eating patterns to imply that what she described is recovery.

Recovery is not cutting out food groups.

Recovery is not having stringent rules around food and exercise.

Recovery is not laughing about how you would never touch a certain food.

Whether it’s from an eating disorder, disordered eating or chronic dieting, recovery is so much more than that.  It alarmed (though not necessarily surprised) me that such a dangerous description of what eating disorder recovery is was described on such a popular podcast.

So what does recovery and food freedom look like?

It’s allowing yourself all foods. It’s knowing that you can have as much or as little as you want. It’s nourishing yourself without rules. It’s opening the fridge and knowing that you can have whatever you want. It’s knowing you can eat all of it now but also that you can save some for later. It’s tossing out the list of “bad” foods and recognizing that it’s dangerous for foods to be attached to morality. It’s going out to eat and knowing that you can order whatever you want. It’s not beating yourself up when you eat past the point of fullness and it’s having compassion for yourself when you do. It’s knowing that no matter what decisions you make about food, it doesn’t define your worth or who you are as a person.

It’s easy to get to the point where you feel like you’re doing “good enough” with food- when you’re not necessarily restricting, but you’re not truly allowing all foods. When you’re not as obsessive as you once were, but you still get nervous about going out to dinner or eating without knowing calorie counts. I’m all for celebrating the small steps along the way, but I think it’s so important that we don’t stop there. That we keep taking steps towards total food freedom so that we can live our lives without letting food control more space in our brains than it deserves.

I want to help you get there! If you’re interested in working with me, you can contact me here or email me at meg@mkaznutrition.com.