August 15, 2013

Ditch the Diet: Reconnecting with the Body Through Intuitive Eating. ~ Sonia Evangelista

The day had come. I could no longer continue hating myself.

I had been living my life under the guise of a health-conscious enthusiast, passionate about nutrition and exercise, revered by many for my “willpower.” By society’s standards I was a healthy woman.

This façade served many purposes in my life; it helped me feel worthwhile, successful and powerful.

But the highs in achieving victory through diet and exercise were coming fewer and farther between, leaving me, by my definition, a failure. I was attempting more dangerous, desperate dieting techniques—anything to keep the weight and appetite away.

The harsh truth and reality: I had no clue how to love and accept myself.

There had to be more to life. More than just my weight or what size clothes I wore. The obsession with food, diet, exercise and body image was driving me insane. Constantly comparing myself to others. Vacillating between feelings of “better than” and “less than.”

Finally, I surrendered.

When my nutritional therapist first introduced the concept of “intuitive eating” (from Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works, by Evelyn Tribole M.S., R.D., and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., C.E.D.R.D), I doubted it was possible. The idea of eating deliciously satisfying foods was completely foreign and frightening. Forbidden in my mind.

I did not trust my body or myself.

My relationship with food directly mirrored the relationship I had with myself and with others in my life—restrictive, stringent and punishing. It was a difficult awareness to accept.

Up to this point, my life had been completely controlled by food, diet and exercise. In time, with continual surrender, acceptance, trust and patience my relationship with food slowly began to neutralize, allowing me to discover a newfound sense of freedom and love in all areas of my life.

This reconnection to my body through my hunger and satiety cues, learned through intuitive eating, was, in turn, the lifeline that allowed me to reconnect with life.

From my own personal struggles with disordered eating, I believe that what society and mainstream media define as “healthy” is creating disordered eating, and disordered eating is creating this warped definition of “healthy.”

This is a vicious cycle. And it needs to stop.

Disordered eating sees no age, sex, race or weight. It cannot be pointed out in a line up. Just like any addiction, this is a progressive illness. What can be picked out in a line up is a disorder that has progressed to the very late stages of the disease.

In my opinion, there is a large population of “in-betweeners” whose lives and well-being would benefit greatly by incorporating the principles of intuitive eating into their lives.

I ask those reading this to take some time over the next few days and observe. Watch babies, toddlers or animals. Study their neutral relationship with food. Watch as they honor their hunger and fullness cues. Observe how comfortable they are in their own skin.

This is unconditional self-love. We were all created this way and it is possible to find the way back.

Intuitive eating has given me the opportunity to reconnect with and honor my body, my life and my true self. I believe it will do the same for you.


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Assist Ed: Dejah Beauchamp/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Sonia Evangelista