Exploring your values can help you finally dodge diet culture

I write this article after seeing a recent client who commented “I finally feel I am living again, enjoying life and feel in control of food rather than food controlling me”

After years of battling with weight, low self esteem and repeated cycles of dieting and bingeing; through the Food Freedom programme my client has been able to re-evaluate their relationship with food and their body and is now enjoying all foods without guilt, accepts all social invites that come their way and continues to work on appreciating their body rather than loathing it. How have we got to a place where we feel shame about our body and the rules we place around eating have such an impact on our daily lives? I think we all know why....

Social media and diet culture have skewed (or screwed up..) health and beauty standards and portray thinness as a measure of health, beauty and success. Wherever we look – magazines, TV adverts and programmes we realise sex sells, beauty sells and thinness sells.. Nobody is advertising “having the dream” as an unattractive person with no make up on in a larger body…. Society instead instills this belief that if we lose weight we will be more lovable, happier, healthier and more successful etc; and if we buy into this ideology it can drive behaviours such as restricting food, over-exercising, avoiding social situations to avoid going off the diet. Naturally for many when we do not conform to these unrealistic societal standards our value or worth can be affected.

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BUT… didn’t our parents tell us never to judge a book by its cover? Well mine certainly did at least…

 

If you haven’t heard this phrase according to the Brittanica Dictionary it means “you shouldn’t judge someone or something based only on what you see on the outside or what you perceive without knowing the full situation” Do you find yourself making assumptions about someone or something based on appearance or superficial characteristics? Interesting how social media and diet culture drive us to place great emphasis on our appearance i.e what we see on the outside, instilling this as an indication of our value/worth. When questioned many people will say they are dieting, cutting out food groups etc to lose weight for their health, rather than aesthetics. But when it comes to health is appearance the only thing to demonstrate health or does true health go much deeper to emotional wellbeing and overall lifestyle choices?

What would life be like if you weren’t dieting?

Lets dig a little deeper…. What is your end goal when dieting? What are you striving for and why? AND if we removed dieting and concern about weight from the equation would your life goals be different? What are the beliefs/thoughts that are driving dieting behaviours?

 

Is there anything you are putting on hold until you achieve your goal weight? Are you waiting for the magical day when the body you want finally shows up? What could you do if you have a clear head that wasn’t full of questions, thoughts, calculations around food and your body

 

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Too many questions I know but they can help identify if diet culture has or is preventing you from living your life to the values that are important to you… First we need to know what our values are….

What are values exactly?

“Values are the beacons sent from a lighthouse that show us the way”.

“Personal values are the measuring sticks by which we determine what is a successful and meaningful life”.

Values represent our beliefs, ethics and worldviews; and help to shape our decisions, priorities and guide us to live our life in the most authentic way.

 

If I think of my personal values for my family they include honesty, respect, teamwork (having each other’s back, supporting each other) and acceptance (you are loved however you turn up, without the need for change).  As you can gather I am not very articulate but I do know what beliefs/values drives me to parent a certain way.  There isn’t a bible for values, a set of right or wrong values, simply work out what beliefs/moral codes feel important to you.

What are your values?

What is really important to you? How do you wish to live your life, to show up for others? Or what parts of your life bring you joy and satisfaction.

 

Discussing values is often not part of our everyday conversations so if you struggle to articulate your values you might find the following list helpful: Dare to Lead. 

Alternatively create your own list of principles/standards that are important to you..

 

Consider:

 

1) Why are these values important to you?
2) How do your values relate to your food and lifestyle choices, your eating, your body etc?

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How does dieting/your eating habits support (or go against) your values?

 

Consider:

1) What and how do your actions or behaviours around food and your body align with your values; and are there some behaviours that might not be in line with your values and if so, how?

 

2) How does diet culture, your relationship with food, your body fit into your values? For example do food rules keep you from disengaging with loved ones, keep you from being flexible to enjoy experiences that are really important to you? When at work do you struggling with tiredness so do not perform as you would like to because you are always missing meals; or feel you are not always focused because you are distracted by thoughts around food, weight etc.

 

3) If optimal health is a value of yours, ask yourself what would health look like for you if looks/body size was not involved?

 

Dieting thoughts will likely continue to come up whilst you work on moving away from dieting culture and this is absolutely normal. The benefit of now knowing your values means you can simply check in with yourself and ask if the dieting thoughts are helpful and are they in support of your values/beliefs.

 

If you would like to learn more about Intuitive Eating and the first steps to changing your behaviour around food take a look at a previous blog I wrote last year

Finally

 

When working with clients I regularly talk about Diet Dierdre.. she’s nice and friendly, means well….. BUT staunchly stuck in diet culture with strong values and beliefs that she likes to shout about regularly during consultations whilst clients work through intuitive eating. If Diet Deirdre gets too much airtime and is pulling clients back into diet culture, creating space for clients to reflect back on their values can help them re-establish where and how they want to move forward.

 


If you have a Diet Deidre and would like to learn how to quieten her down and/or would like support in working on your relationship with food and your body get in touch here for a free discovery call.

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