I read a very interesting article the other day on The Cut, A Guide to Intuitive Eating. I suppose I should state upfront what constitutes “an interesting article” for me. It’s simply something written in a way that it makes me think of something I think I know in a different way. The article raises the issues of “rules” and how we usually blindly and obediently follow them. For me, this has not been the case generally once I have an awareness of a “rule” for example something like, “Never wear white after Labor Day”. My response to these dictates is usually, “Who says so?” Rebellion is generally effective if you are aware you are following a certain rule. This article makes the case that it is hard to break rules if we are not even consciously aware we are following them.
The ah-ha moment in this article for me was the idea that many of the health, wellness and diet narratives are all premised on the underlying concept of calorie restriction. I finally realized why when following various “healthy” eating regimes underneath the complimenting myself for being “healthy”, I felt so pissed off and controlled. Consistent with being in the “nowness”, intuitive eating suggests we slow down, tune into our body and pay attention to what it is saying it wants and/or needs. It is a healing response to restriction, dieting and a diet culture that’s filled us with what is called “dieting rules” such as, “carbs and sweets are bad” and “you can have “cheat days” but limit yourself all the other times”. Food rules have been in our life a long time (i.e. “eat your carrots they are good for your eyes”) and now I know why I have consistently embraced but then rebelled against them never really finding a way of eating that just filled me with plain joy and satisfaction.
When you feel guilty and anxious about eating something for intuitive eating the important question to ask is, “What rule do I need to question and deconstruct?” Then do a re-frame. Why is gaining three more pounds a bad thing? How might it be a good thing? Why might having the bread my DNA always tells me to have and listening to myself be a good thing? Well for one the research on intuitive eating shows it’s associated with better mental health. On the fashion and beauty end and my face looks less drawn and prettier with a few extra pounds. I think what we have all been talking about in the “what nowness” is really a kind of “Intuitive Living”. As a generation, we are questioning rules about what it means to be older. Younger people are questioning rules about work, gender, and other topics and I find more and more they, like us, may feel anxious when breaking them. No matter what our age, embracing our “nowness”, being ourselves, slowing down and critically evaluating rules society says we must follow and making a choice that is authentic to us are all parts of this way of living. Best of all we become the boss of our life, the boss of what we eat and the boss of our style (and lots of other things too).
What “rules” are you currently evaluating for potential breaking or re-framing?!