This post was written and submitted by Jessica Garcia, a Masters of Public Health student and Dietetic Intern at Samford University, Birmingham, AL.
She wakes up and hops from the shower onto the scale, continually judging her frame. Her mind, a constant cyclone of thoughts for self-improvement. Never a focus on the soul, only that of the physique. An analyst of everything her mouth consumes. Hypercritical comparisons to anyone thinner and leaner. Hidden outrage when the urge to fight indulgence miscarries. A life with the belief that the way she is now couldn’t possibly be enough.
As a young adult, I fight the urge to criticize my every move, word, and thought. As a student in the field of dietetics, I find it difficult not to expect the most of myself. How am I to advise and counsel anyone when I lack the obedience to live a well-nourished life because of my desire to meet the world’s standard of health and beauty? For many years the idea that “I am not good enough” was embedded into my mind. I lived in a virulent continuous cycle concerning numbers on scales, eating less, eating “healthy,” and sticking to the diet I meticulously composed. I lived in constant fear of failure and a lack of perfection.
To support my healing and recovery, I began looking in the mirror and listing the things I love about myself. Appreciating the characteristics which make me unique, and creating space for self-compassion, self-love, and self-confidence. Mending broken conceptions of food, health, and weight takes time and requires complete rewiring. I began to revel in the concepts of Intuitive Eating and body positivity.
Intuitive Eating is unique in that it’s not a diet. It adheres to the mindset that our bodies know what we need, how much we need, and that we should not just limit our food variety to what is perceived as “healthy.” Intuitive Eating releases the high-held pressure of a number on a scale, calorie counting, and food manipulation. It may seem absurdly counterintuitive, because there are no food rules to follow. Instead of focusing on rules for what we “should and should not” eat, Intuitive Eating encourages nurturing the body while enjoying the food being eaten.
If my journey toward becoming a Registered Dietitian has taught me anything, it is that every person and body is unique, and that it’s okay to take a step back from what imperfections we may think we carry. Whether we maintain a certain weight or stick to a certain diet is not important. The importance, rather, lies in treating others and ourselves with love and compassion; the goal not to restrict or limit food, but to eat and be happy through Intuitive Eating and respect for all bodies.