Food freedom is a broad, complex term encompassing a wide array of definitions ranging from ditching diet culture to attaining health and food security through growing your own food. This article will focus on the rejection of diet culture and restrictive eating. To have food freedom is to be free from the food rules that end up controlling our lives in big and small ways. It’s giving yourself permission to enjoy all foods in moderation. It’s freedom from the idea that your worth as a person is linked to or in any way dependent on how you eat or your weight. It is a pathway to having a healthy relationship with food.
Origins of food freedom
Food freedom has its origins in the anti-diet movement which emerged as a response to the harmful effects of diet culture and the constant promotion of restrictive dieting as the catch-all solution to all health and body concerns. Diet culture and the obsession with thinness cause low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, mental health stress and life-threatening eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. Children and adults are affected alike because of the excessive societal pressure to attain the thin ideal. It’s an act of resistance against all the industries that profit from promoting feelings of insecurity and dissatisfaction with our bodies most notably the beauty and wellness industries.
Tips to pursue food freedom
There are too many restrictive rules about what you can eat without being wracked by guilt. Sugar, carbohydrates and even fatty foods are to be avoided. Second helpings are a definite no-no even if you’re not satisfied. Food freedom frees you from all these rules and gives you your life back. This refusal to feel guilt and shame over what you eat is guaranteed to improve your mental health and by extension your relationship with yourself and others. Here are some tips to get on the path to freedom.
No more diets
Begin to let go of the diet culture and its many rules. Reject the idea that there are good and bad foods and instead, focus on incorporating a variety of foods that you enjoy and that nourish your body.
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Eating mindfully means being fully present and engaged in the act of eating. It involves paying attention to the sensory experience of food and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. The opposite of mindful eating is distracted eating where you eat while driving or working or engaged in some other task that keeps you from fully engaging in the task of eating. Distracted eating is associated with anxiety, overeating and weight gain. Mindful eating leads to improved psychological well-being, enjoyment when eating and body satisfaction.
Intuitive eating is based on principles which serve as a guide, not rules. It’s an approach to eating that emphasizes listening to your body’s cues rather than relying on external rules and restrictions to determine what and when you eat. Its entire ethos is based on promoting a positive relationship with food based on self-care, self-compassion and body acceptance.
One key principle is honouring your hunger which means listening to your hunger signals and responding by eating without guilt. For people plagued by diet culture, eating when hungry and without feeling shame and guilt is often difficult. Toddlers are a great example of intuitive eaters. Most people don’t enjoy eating and don’t ever allow themselves to feel satisfied or full which is sad. Another key principle is to not moralize food. Don’t think of food as good or bad. It’s just food. The nutritional value may vary, but it’s just food and has no morality to it.
Here’s to food freedom, enjoying food without guilt and shame.
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