How would you like to be able to eat whatever you want? Whenever you want. As much as you want. What if exercise felt like a celebration of your body rather than a punishment? These thoughts may sound idealistic or even unrealistic. How healthy can unmonitored eating and exercising really be?
Diet and exercise are huge money-making markets in today’s world, and they are successful for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is their ability to make a person feel bad. If you don’t have unlimited energy and a body that matches those on magazine covers, then you have probably felt like you were missing out. That’s a major selling point of any product.
There is a shift happening with how we view our bodies, and you can be a part of it. Our health isn’t determined by how strictly we follow a certain diet or how our body looks. We are unique creatures, each of which has a different metabolism, height, weight, or other combination of genetics.
How we think about our bodies plays a huge role in our health. Not only because of the actions that transpire from those thoughts, but the actual thoughts themselves. These thoughts are powerful and should come from a place of love and appreciation, not shame or guilt.
To better understand the role that society has played in manipulating our thoughts about dieting and our bodies, we talked with Dr. Jennifer Guadiani, eating disorders expert physician and Founder and Medical Director of the Guadiani Clinic.
As we all know, most dieting and exercise plans come from a positive desire to be better. It can be so difficult to do the proper research for the healthiest life style and then follow it to perfection. It becomes especially hard when you don’t see the results you were promised.
Even eating disorders can stem from good intentions. Orthorexia, which is being unhealthily fixated on healthy eating, has been a cause of health issues especially for athletes. Undereating is common for those that exercise frequently and can result in amenorrhea, mental fogginess, or bone density loss.
The point is, most of society is looking at food the completely wrong way. You shouldn’t feel bad when you eat something, you should feel glorious! Food is amazing! It gives us the energy to stay alive and to function in life. As Dr. Guadiani says, society seems to tell us that “we should be depriving ourselves of things to control our wild bodies.”
But this isn’t true. Our bodies have been upgrading for centuries to do exactly what they need to in order to stay alive. Even something as simple as hungry cues is an important development that shouldn’t be ignored.
Your Body Knows Best
You are likely in the majority when you experience hunger and think to yourself, “This is natural. The pain isn’t so severe, and I can last until lunch time before I need to eat.” For those that just want to lose 5, 10, or 20 pounds, a little bit of hunger may sound worth it. However, as you learn more about the way your body works, you will begin to listen to your body instead of listening to what our culture tells us.
When your body enters a state of hunger, it intelligently begins to conserve. This means it lowers your heart rate, holds on to energy sources like fat, and if starved, begins to do more drastic things like stop producing testosterone or estrogen. Many diets look like starving to the body which is why Dr. Guadiani doesn’t recommend any diets to anyone.
The conservation that your body does when it is hungry is exactly why people have such a cronic problem in losing weight. The more you starve yourself, the more your body adapts to conserve energy. Overtime it will start to hoard that energy in unhealthy ways. Consistently feeding yourself good (aka yummy) food is the best thing you can do.
Food is Amazing
When you want a cookie, Dr. Guadiani says to “Eat a delicious cookie! Not a protein bar.” Enjoy the things in life, and don’t use vocabulary such as cheat days. You aren’t cheating! You’re living!
There are only a handful of things that Dr. Guadiani generally recommends for all people to do. Some of these include: listen to your hunger cues, both when you’re hungry and when you’re full; move your body, and celebrate its abilities; eat fruits and vegetables; and don’t deny yourself the delicious things in life.
Your body is beautiful. It allows you to do wonderful things. Food is incredible. It allows your body to thrive. Appreciate both. Don’t turn down the yummy things in life, and help the world have a better relationship with food.
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Thank you to Jennifer, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.