Once we have made strides in eating intuitively and rejecting the diet mentality, it can feel like we would never be tempted to go on another diet again. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, it is often the case that during the course of our intuitive eating journey, we have setbacks. We may even find ourselves on a diet again, restricting our calories, binging, purging, restricting our food in the guise of “health”, over exercising etc. Much like any other big change we try to make in our lives, changing our behaviors around food and exercise and are thinking about our bodies takes time. Often times it takes more than one attempt to be successful.
So, what do we do if we suddenly find ourselves slipping back into old habits? Firstly, it’s important we have compassion for ourselves. We are surrounded by messages that dieting is a good even health promoting thing, and that only bodies of a certain size are socially acceptable. That said, it makes sense that a message that is so pervasive around us is difficult to ignore!
Another thing to consider is how we define progress. One thing many people notice in learning to eat in a more mindful way is that over time, being able to “catch” ourselves engaging in our old behaviors happens more quickly. This in and of itself is something to be proud of. Stop that diet after day one when you notice you are feeling restricted rather then after two months of dieting? That’s a huge accomplishment and something to celebrate!
Lastly, it can be helpful to become more aware of things that tend to tempt us to engage in these behaviors. Once we have this awareness, we can begin to be proactive in taking steps to avoid slipping back into dieting. For example, once we’ve realized being stressed tends to make us more likely to engage in dieting behaviors, we can start to take note of when we begin to feel stress and take steps to manage it. This in turn can make us less likely to then engage in other food related behaviors to cope. This is perhaps the most important piece, reminding ourselves that we can learn from these setbacks. Rather then hindering our journey to a better relationship with food and our bodies, they can actually enhance it if we can use the information these experiences provide us.
Questions about intuitive eating setbacks or anything else food/body image related? Feel free to get in touch!