Last week I was stressed, and out of sorts, and stroppier than usual. It was a combination of things, but the result was 3 bottles of wine and a fair bit of vodka over the week. I’m not ashamed. I didn’t reach for a bloody mary the minute I woke up. I wasn’t sneaking glugs out of a bottle hidden in the ironing pile. But it was a lot. And it was more than I need. And it was more than I drink normally. It was a conscious decision. I chose wine over weight loss this week. And the result was a gain on the scales at my Slimming World class.
I felt a bit disgruntled. I’d kind of hoped for a miracle, a maintain, maybe even a half lost. But wine hinders my weight loss, not least because my choices around food can become questionable the day after the night before. But disgruntle dissipated quickly enough as I accepted the result, and looked at the week previous and mused over the week ahead. I have a fridge full of lovely fruit and veg, meat, fish, cheese and so on. I have everything I need to make all manner of meals, and this week I have enthusiasm and determination. This week I am choosing to eat more healthsome foods and drink less wine!
I’ve been thinking and looking back on the principles of intuitive eating today. The final one, which stands out for me at this time is this
10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.
I started to muse on how sometimes so much emphasis is placed on legalising all food and saying “NO” to dieting that the whole “Honour Your Health” principle is left as something we’ll do later when we’ve got ourselves sorted with the legalising. The problem for me is that I embraced the legalisation, and forgot the health bit. I forgot to notice when foods left me feeling sluggish, or with indigestion. I wanted to eat and eat all those foods that I had deprived myself of during years of dieting. To make up for those rotten evenings staring at a salad when what I wanted was sweet and sour chicken. The fact that I could have had something better than a salad and probably tastier than a chinese take away if I’d made the effort didn’t really enter into my thoughts. In fact, looking back, a lot of my perceived deprivation was my choice. A form of martyrdom. A “look how good I am and how much weight I’m losing by not letting myself have all the things I love!”. I think it’s a pattern many dieters fall into. Somehow there’s more merit in being a miserable dieter.
The fact is that with every diet we choose to partake in, we have a choice. We choose how much we do or don’t commit. We choose how much effort we will put in to cooking and following recipes. We choose to deviate from the diet plan, or we choose to stick. Last week, I chose to deviate. I did it with awareness and accepted there would be consequences. But I chose to deviate.
The same could be said for Intuitive Eating principles, I feel. I can choose to observe them all, and follow them to the letter. I could choose to not eat my feelings away, or I could ignore that principle for the evening and follow my own choices. I already know that eating too mindfully bores me to tears. But I am aware that I don’t need as much food as I used to and so will plate up less and go back for seconds if I want it. And as time goes on, I realise more and more that a really important Principle is the one of Honouring Health. There’s no getting around it. All the mindful eating, legalisation, exercising, will only do so much if I’m still filling my body with less nutritious foods more often than not. And here is where a slimming club supports me in the healthier choices. This is where having syns, or points, and making the more filling and nutritious food decisions is made a little bit easier because a great big diet club has done all the hard work for me. OK, Weight Watchers may be obsessed with touting their foods and calculators and scales. And Slimming World may promote their sweetener laden HiFi bars. But I make the choice of whether I want to buy them or not. I make the choice of how much money I put into buying the slimming club merchandise.
Of course The first Principle is to ditch the diet mentality, and I would urge every woman and man in the world to learn to love themselves, to accept they are great people as they are, and to know the scales merely tell them their weight, not their self worth. But for many folk, there is support and friendship at clubs, and for many, their lives are improved through learning about better food choices, and being able to move more freely as weight is lost.
Diet clubs are not the devil. The lies spread by the media are what is evil. The perverse messages that physical beauty is everything, and physical beauty includes thinness. The arrogant messages that obesity is the root of every illness, and that fat people are lazy and just need to eat less and move more and their lives will improve. These are what hit us in the heart, and lead us to feel inadequate and failing. And there are times when we are vulnerable, and those messages will puncture deeper than usual. They will rob our self esteem and devalue our life if we let ourselves believe them. But it isn’t the diet clubs.
So, Honour Your Health. My current mantra.