I grew up as an intuitive eater. I really have my parents to thank for this, but I also want to acknowledge that my parents and I had thin privilege which shielded me from diet culture for the most part. Growing up no foods were off limits. My parents provided a wide variety of foods and we always had family dinners with a dessert with each meal. When we went out to dinner I could order anything I wanted without shame. It allowed me to really trust my body and have a normal, healthy relationship with food. My mom never criticized her body or my body, never really dieted and she wore her bathing suit and played in the pool with my sister and I. I realize now how lucky I was to have had this gift, something that not everyone has growing up.
Things started to change for me once I started experiencing gut issues and trouble digesting food around the age of 9. It took a full year of feeling so sick before being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had to be very careful with what I ate. My diet became very restrictive and I deeply missed eating my favorite foods like pizza and feeling like a normal kid. This was also around the time of transitioning to middle school, going through puberty, having more independence and peer pressure. I felt more uncertainty around food and experienced poor body image for the first time.
It took a long time to figure out a treatment plan that would help manage my symptoms and give me a better quality of life. I experienced anxiety and depression, but I also got to be connected with other kids who had Inflammatory Bowel Disease and this gave me hope. I started to take more of an interest in health and nutrition, but it was this loss of control and connection from my body that led to me trying to regain control of my body. This is when my disordered eating and exercise behaviors began.
Flash forward to me being in college and realizing that I wanted to become a registered dietitian. I was still struggling with disordered eating, poor body image and lack of self-esteem. With the help of therapy I was able to process all the emotions from the trauma of having Crohn’s disease and I began to see an improvement in my relationship with food and body because of this.
It wasn’t until I became a dietitian and started getting experience in counseling clients that I recognized disordered eating behaviors in my clients who were trying to lose weight. It set off alarm bells for me and I also saw that I needed to continue to do some healing myself. I investigated this and found out about the approach of Intuitive Eating and how many dietitians were offering this to help their clients with their relationship with food.
This is when everything finally clicked for me and my clients. Intuitive Eating was the approach that allowed me to finally be able to find my way back home to my body again. It allowed me to have that love, connection and trust with food again. I also began to see myself as more than a body.
There are many circumstances that can make us disconnected from our body: trauma, illness, food insecurity, being objectified, bullied, or being forced to be on a diet. It’s the lack of safety in our environment that makes it feel unsafe to be in your body. Disordered eating/exercise behaviors serve to try to protect our body from harm and they also provide a sense of control when other things feel outside of your control.
Making our way back home to our body is a process that involves various aspects like being in therapy, processing trauma, seeking out a support system, learning new coping skills, unlearning unhelpful thought patterns and making peace with food.
I’m really proud to say that my work as a dietitian is in support of helping you make your way back home to your body. I’m also truly passionate about how this work is making it possible for future generations to grow up with the ability to feel at home in their body like I was able to.
Are you wanting to find your way back home to your body? Learn more about how to start practicing Intuitive Eating with our course Intuitive Eating Basics.
Picture above is by Providence Doucet on Unsplash