1) In one of your meditations in the Body Shaming series you talk about “feeling fat” as a catch all for all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Can you say more about this? How do we parse out and attend to the complex feelings that get bundled up in to “feeling fat”?
Feeling fat is shorthand we often use for uncomfortable emotions and body sensations. It makes sense when we talk about feeling bloated after a big meal, but when we use this shorthand for describing emotions we are not addressing our actual emotions. It’s important to slow down, turn within and ask what else you are feeling in those moments. Initially it may be difficult to know, but in time and with practice you can better ascertain how you are feeling and what you need to appropriately soothe yourself in that moment.
2) Can you tell us what the difference is between intuitive eating and mindful eating? It seems like there is some overlap.
Mindful eating is paying attention and engaging the senses in the process of eating. Mindful eaters listen to hunger and satiety cues to know when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. Mindful eating does not place judgement on what you eat. You can mindfully eat a piece of cake as easily as a bowl of fruit.
Intuitive eating incorporates mindful eating within its principles but actually goes much farther. The goal of intuitive eating is to help people stop dieting and make peace with food and their bodies. This goal is achieved through 10 principles:
rejecting the diet culture
honoring your hunger
making peace with food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat to overcome the deprivation cycle
challenge the food police declaring foods are good and bad and you are good or bad when you eat them
respecting your body signals that you are no longer hungry
eat what you really want in an inviting environment
honor your feelings without using food
respect your body and accept that everyone is not built to be a particular body size anymore than we are all intended to wear the same shoe size
exercise because of how it feels to move your body and not because you will burn calories; honor your health and taste buds
3) One of the tenets of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality altogether. How can you do that when you’ve spent most of your adolescence and adult life “watching your weight?”
First you have to want to reject the diet mentality. Despite the fact that 95% of people who go on diets regain their weight and at least ½ gain additional weight, the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the US. Rejecting diet culture also includes rejecting the temptation to have conversations with friends about the latest weight loss solution. It also includes letting go of all the hopes and dreams you pinned to your weight loss goals.
Letting go requires mindfulness, patience and compassion for yourself and others. Mindfulness will allow you to notice diet language such as labeling food as good or bad or fantasizing about the perfect relationship or job will appear if only you are thinner. Patience because you are attempting to change your relationship with food and your body and that takes time. You will have many pitfalls on that journey. Self-compassion because you are letting go of something familiar and even comfortable. Compassion for others because we are all negatively impacted by the diet culture.
4) Let’s say you have to watch your weight and your diet because you have a health condition--perhaps you’re diabetic or have high cholesterol. How can you modify the intuitive eating approach to address that kind of situation?
The great news is that you do not have to modify the intuitive eating approach to honor your health requirements. Intuitive eating asks that you reject dieting for the purpose of weight loss because focusing on that goal is ineffective 95% of the time. This is not the same as monitoring glucose levels. I do not eat dairy because it upsets my stomach and eating it does not honor my body. It does not feel like deprivation, it feels like you are nurturing yourself and honoring your body. Not eating ice cream because it is fattening is deprivation. If someone wants to incorporate the principles of intuitive eating while tending to their specific health needs, a dietitian trained in intuitive eating can be very helpful.
5) If you’re in a larger size body and want to date, do you have any tips for dealing with insecurity around body size?
Our culture is not very forgiving of people in larger bodies and the dating world is no different. There is definitely a stigma around weight and I don’t want to minimize the experience of dating in this kind of climate. And yet there are millions of people with “larger bodies” who find people who love them for who they are.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in dating is beginning with accepting ourselves as we are--and trusting that there is so much more to who we are than our body size. And that is true no matter what clothing size you wear.