Thanks for those on Instagram who requested this post topic. Gaining the ‘covid 19’ got a lot of requests, so I went with it over a post on how I approach so much Whole30 going around right now. If anyone wants my thoughts on Whole30, just let me know in the comments section and I can share what I think there.
There have been so many jokes about gaining ‘the Covid 19’, similar to jokes about gaining the ‘freshman 15’, which I addressed previously. The main thing I’ve been thinking about as weight gain fears are more present now on the news/social media is how grateful I am for intuitive eating because it grows your body trust. Body trust is your body having a need (step one is simply being aware of that need) and you giving your body what that need is.*** Body trust is also trusting your body to find the size it is meant to be. In the Anti-diet book, Christy brought up the idea that maybe for some people body trust is a better goal than body love or body acceptance. I agree.
Here’s how body trust works…
My body is tired —> I notice it is tired —> I give it rest. (Not, my body is tired –> I force it to exercise. Movement is to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it.)
I have to go pee —> I notice I have to pee —> I go pee.
I’m hungry —> I notice I’m hungry —> I go eat.
If you have an eating disorder, rebuilding body trust is a slow process.
Something I hate about your eating disorder is that it takes away your ability to listen to your body and to trust you body. Food becomes a feared object. The very thing that nourishes life triggers a stress response in your brain as if an emergency is happening when you sit down to lunch. You think, how can I get away from this pizza (aka the identified object of panic). Through working with a dietitian and therapist trained in eating disorders, this shifts and you get to a place where food doesn’t give you a stress response or to a place where you can talk your brain through it.
As said above, the first step in trusting your body is noticing what your body is asking for. Period. That’s it. The next step is noticing when your body is asking for something and you don’t give it that thing. A growth step here is being honest with yourself about when you are depriving your body of a need it is asking for. For instance, instead of saying “oh I’m not hungry” is the reason you’re not having lunch, saying, “my body is hungry but I’m choosing not to feed it.”
Then, the following step is seeing what beliefs/rules/thoughts are coming up in your head around honoring the need and separating the thoughts from your body sensation. In a presentation I heard Evelyn Tribole give, this means, “disentangle the thought from the actual bodily experience.” For instance, some of you may be thinking, “I shouldn’t be hungry. I just had a meal.” That’s a thought in your mind, but not your body sensation. Your body sensation says it’s hungry. It’s annoying to have to eat sometimes, but it isn’t wrong.
Now back to the weight gain piece of this. Body trust is also knowing that by caring for yourself your body will find the weight it is meant to weigh and you trust your body to find that weight. Yes, you may still desire weight loss, but desiring isn’t the same thing as pursing weight loss. Pursuit of intuitive eating isn’t this land of rainbows and joy and ease, but as reader Monica commented with this Geneen Roth quote recently, “This is going to be hard, but what we are doing is already hard. We don’t get to choose hard versus easy; we get to choose freedom vs. fear.”
So, one thing I love that ED recovery and intuitive eating has given me is that I can trust my body. I’m not worried that I’ll gain weight during this time (I might.) because I trust that my body can find the size it needs to be based on what I’m going through at that time. Right now I feel so stressed, I imagine you do to? But my goal in life isn’t to avoid weight gain. My goal is to take care of my body. The more I take care of myself the more I am managing my stress levels, which is a goal of mine. Marci Evans shared on Instagram that nervous system management is a better place to put energy than weight management.
How do you know if your nervous system is working overtime? I follow Kat Devos on Instagram and she posted this helpful graphic..
For me, I’ve noticed sleep disruption, heightened emotionality, and hypervigalence. Every noise I’ve heard lately I’m sure it’s one of my children choking and I startle and freak everyone out. Ugh. I haven’t felt this level of frenzied since the early postpartum months and I’m not loving it. I can also feel the nervous system overwhelm with how tight my chest is and how shallow my breathing. The below is a bodily sensations map that shows where many feel certain states. You can see that stress has the chest and GI area lit up.
So really, this post is just an entire plug for intuitive eating. If you aren’t already practicing it, I encourage you to read or listen to Intuitive Eating, Anti-Diet, or, for those of you who have read the first two and are already practicing Intuitive Eating, Body Respect.
To end, I wanted to share some bad quarantine diet advice I’ve seen…
Bad advice #1: “Fill up on vegetables or water when you feel hungry”.
my opinion: Fullness is not the absence of hunger. Fullness is the absence of hunger combined with satisfaction, pleasure, and a disinterest in food. Filling up on vegetables, fiber, or water creates confusion for your body and fear when interacting with food.
Bad advice #2: “If you can’t stop snacking, close the kitchen at x time.”
my opinion: People don’t have a compulsive eating problem. They have a chronically undereating problem that leads to out of control feelings with food. Permission to eat is the answer here. Permission to eat any time you are hungry or when a particular food just sounds nice will solve this feeling of “I can’t stop snacking.”
Not bad advice, but just a reality: “I have no appetite.”
my opinion: I feel this. My appetite hasn’t been the best lately. It sucks to have no appetite, but you still gotta eat. I just got and started reading Salt Fat Acid Heat, and it’s spurred a little itch to have more fun in the kitchen and find more pleasure in food, which Andrew and I are enjoying. Now, he’s planning to make homemade fish and chips and I want to throw out my iodized salt and make pretty much anything with sea salt.
***For my Christian readers, I think there is an interesting conversation to be had here about desires of the flesh vs. instincts and how diet culture contributes to us thinking our instincts are wrong. To come in another post!