Self acceptance

Pre-Vacation Thoughts

Tomorrow I'm leaving for my first real vacation in so many years, I can't even count. I'm heading to Las Vegas with my sister and our partners and I'm so excited for good company and good food. Besides the odd weekend away here or there (mostly for weddings and/or family events), I haven't been anywhere just for pure fun in so long. And it's a very weird feeling, mostly because I am always always doing something. Even on my days off, I'm cleaning or writing or working on my business or learning or doing something to stay busy. The last time I laid in bed all day and relaxed was when I was sick (which wasn't that relaxing at all). My partner is always poking fun at my inability to sit still. So going on a trip that likely won't involve any work at all (probably, maybe) is an odd (but good) feeling. There's also something different about this trip...

Historically, I haven't been very good at vacations. When I was younger, my travel anxiety was so severe that I couldn't really go anyway without throwing up (I was a lot of fun!!!) And then when I got older, I was so entrenched in diet culture that I couldn't enjoy the food I was eating or the sights I was seeing because I was so stressed out about calories and when I was going to make it to the gym. The last time I went away for an extended period of time, I was still pretty caught up in diet culture and as anyway who has been in the depths of dieting or disordered eating while traveling knows, it's not particularly fun. Honestly, is there anything more depressing than looking out the window at a beautiful place from a hotel gym? Is there anything worse than looking at all the delicious food options but instead, opting for something "lighter" or "cleaner" or whatever bullshit term you want to use to describe less-delicious food (not to say that all stereotypically "healthy" meals are not delicious- just that when you only allow yourself a very limited range of foods when you're surrounded by so many enticing options, it gets pretty sad). I thought that I was "in control" but in reality, I was being totally and entirely controlled by my disordered relationship to food. I thought that I was keeping myself in "check" but truthfully, I was just ignoring my body's inner wisdom and intuition. 

My vacations (and life in general) were pretty rooted in deprivation. Rather than enjoying all the delicious and appreciating where I was, I was thinking about all the things I couldn't have or couldn't do because I was too worried about eating "too much" or not being able to go for a run. It makes me sad to think about it now but like so many other things about recovery, that sadness is tinged in gratitude. Gratitude that I can now order whatever I want guilt-free. Gratitude that I can pack a lighter suitcase because there's no need for workout clothes or sneakers. Gratitude in knowing that I can nourish my body and my soul, whatever that means for me in the moment. 

Unlike every other vacation I've been on since I was about 15 years old, my prep for this vacation hasn't involve altering my food or movement at all. There's been (and will be) no restricting to compensate for all the tasty food I'm going to eat in the next week. There's been no extra workouts. There's been no trying to force my body into a size that it doesn't naturally want to be at just so I can look "better" in that dress. I'm not worrying about any weight I may or may not gain. I trust my body to take care of me. I trust that my body will know what to do if I eat more than normal. And that's the big difference between this and every other vacation: I trust my body to take care of me. I don't have to worry about what's going to "happen" to it because I know my body has my back (no pun intended?). So here's to a week of body trust, intuition and fun. What a radical concept! 

Talk to you when I get back,
xo Meghan

Cover photo by louis amal 

 

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!

Why You Won't See the Term "Weight Management" on My Site

I see the phrase “weight maintenance” used a lot in the healthcare world- whether it’s from doctors, fellow RDs or other health professionals. And to be honest, it always makes me bristle a little bit.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why this phrase makes me cringe (especially when I see it in the same places talking about intuitive eating & Health at Every Size) so I wanted to share some of what I’ve come up with here.

The main reason is that it implies we can control our weight. It might sound radical to anyone who is new or unfamiliar with HAES but I just don’t believe that we have as much control over our weight as society makes it seem. I practice using the set point theory  - the idea that our bodies have a 10-20 pound range that it feels most comfortable in and will fight to stay within. How is our set point determined? A lot of factors go into our set point but one of the main factors is genetics. Some research shows that up to 80% of our body shape/size is determined by genetics; if you look at your parents/grandparents/siblings, you probably have a good idea of what that might look like for you. But the bottom line is- our set point is not within our control. So when you come to work with me, I can’t guarantee that I will help you maintain your weight. When you start eating intuitively, you might lose weight, you might gain weight or your body might stay the same depending on where you’re at in your journey with food.

Another reason I have trouble with “weight maintenance” is that to me, it sounds like a code word for dieting. As the body positive movement grows and we shift away from the dieting craze of the 90s, the $60 billion dieting industry has come up with a lot of euphemisms for dieting. Some of those are “lifestyle change”, “cleanse”, “detox”, etc. Weight maintenance just seems like another word for dieting i.e. weight loss. And as much as I know that there’s a demand for weight loss, it’s not a service I can provide. Don’t get me wrong- I will always meet a client where they are and living in our weight-obsessed world, I absolutely understand why weight loss is appealing. But it’s never a goal I’ll set with a client or something we’ll work towards. Why? Because there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that dieting for weight loss isn’t effective long-term. And the last thing I want to do is set my clients on a path towards failure.

That being said, I don’t expect anyone to be anti-weight loss when they come to me. We live in a culture that encourages, promotes and praises weight loss. It’s on the cover of magazines, it’s in an advertisement on the side of Facebook, it’s on social media, it’s everywhere. So if you want to lose weight…I understand. And my hope is that we can meet each other halfway. But promising that working with me will bring you weight loss or weight maintenance is not something I can do without compromising the values I believe in. Because the truth is, I don't know what your set point weight is, but I do know how to find it. And that's what I can guarantee when clients work with me- that I can help them find their body's natural weight and help them to feel at home in their bodies. At the end of the day, it's not about your weight; it's about your ability to take care of yourself in ways that feel right to you, feel at peace with your body and stop letting food get in the way of living your life.

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.