Just before Christmas I was up visiting some friends in Manchester. We popped into some shops and I spotted this book. I’d been having some recent issues with my body and thought I might give it a go – see if it helps. The tagline How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food made me think, yup this book is for me. I’d heard of intuitive eating but never really knew what it meant.
Was it just thinking about the food I’m eating as I eat it?
Was it meal planning?
Another type of diet?
But I was wrong on all counts really. Laura Thomas PhD provided a wake up call that I needed, and that I think lots of people need. And with that lets get to it…
This book isn’t about dieting or body positivity in the general sense. It’s about realising that all of that is rubbish if you don’t listen to your body. Our bodies are intelligent and have survived many years on the planet before Slimming World and gyms became a thing. The book aims to try and dismantle all the diet culture crap we’ve been fed and to try and retrain us to just listen to ourselves.
I know for a fact when I started reading things about “Challenging The Food Police” I was equal parts excited and scared. No matter how much I’ve tried throughout my life I’ve always felt that I shouldn’t eat too many biscuits or that if I’ve binged on McDonalds its a bad thing (other fast food chains are available). Laura talks of how people are scared when they remove restrictions that they will binge on all the bad foods – something I myself have thought. But she very eloquently explains how if you allowed yourself to only eat ice-cream for every meal (or another sweet treat of your choice) you probably would enjoy it the first day but after time start to crave a nice veggie pasta bake. She says this isn’t because we realise its a “bad” food and we should be eating “good” foods; its because our body is smart and knows it needs a different kind of nutrient! Our body has its own way of knowing what foods it wants, whether that’s ice cream or broccoli!
Since finishing this book a few weeks back, in fact even after I had just started it, I realised a change in the way I reacted to food. I stopped blaming myself if I felt like eating half a pack of bourbon biscuits because hey guess what my body is allowed to have that. I can already feel now as I type this people thinking “well that’s not healthy” but guess what, its not something I do often, but I don’t restrict my food and that’s the main thing!
Laura is someone that has a hell of a lot of expertise in this field. She has researched and studied nutrition so knows her stuff. And reading it all totally makes sense. “Good” and “bad” foods are all extensions of diet culture that I’m no longer subscribing too. All foods carry some nutritional value, just others are higher in certain nutrients than others!
Plus what’s another word for diet culture? Patriarchy. Yup that’s right, I went there. Diet culture is something that overwhelmingly affects more females than males. Yes of course men are subject to certain physical ideals, but in terms of diet culture it lends itself to beauty ideals enforced on women. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in a room and the individuals talking about dieting, or “earning a nice meal” by exercising more have always been women. Obviously this is just my experience, but I don’t think I’m alone here.
So if you needed another reason to unsubscribe from the damaging culture that is diet culture, standing up for feminism and taking down the patriarchy is all you need in my opinion.
When I was reading this book, I did feel a major shift internally with regards to my thought process surrounding food. I definitely picked this book up with the intention of making me binge on biscuits less and to feel more comfortable in my own skin. However, what I found was that those very reasons I had picked up the book were the very reasons I needed this book. It has helped me be a lot more accepting of the food that I chose to eat.
I think its important to stress that of course I have days where I eat more biscuits and packets of crisps than others, but I also have days where I eat more fruit than others. Its all about balance and responding to my bodies signals. There have been days where I have tried to fight that craving for that waffle delivery or to finish the biscuits in the jar, but then I realised how cranky that restriction made me feel.
So I ate the damn waffles!
And guess what, my life hasn’t derailed as a result. I haven’t suddenly cascaded off a cliff of over indulgence and binge eating. I feel bloody happy I had those waffles because they were tasty and topped off my evening. I know if I had deprived myself I would of woken up the next day with a lot more regret than if I hadn’t.
All in all, this book is a must read.
It has helped me to unpack a lot of diet culture rubbish I’ve had instilled in me for as long as I can remember. It has helped me to not beat myself up when I eat different foods and I certainly don’t have food guilt when I indulge in some junk food or takeaway delights. This book isn’t just about unpacking diet culture either. Its about listening to your body, because it’s really amazing how its evolved over thousands of years so you probably should listen to it more.
My body tells me when its hungry and when I’m full. It tells me what it wants to eat and I feed it accordingly. It’s about honouring yourself on more than just a physical level, but a spiritual one too.
So go. Go buy this book. You won’t regret it.