In diet culture, food can be good, bad, naughty, sinful, guilt-free, tempting, a “cheat” meal and so on. We feel virtuous when eating “healthy” and when eating “unhealthy” we feel shame or judgment from our inner food police.

 

Intuitive eating reminds us that all food is just food. With this principle, we’re aiming to develop non-judgmental thoughts around food and then to cultivate responses to the food police (which are usually inside our own minds).

 

Intuitive Eating Principle 1_ (5)

Challenge the belief that a perfect diet will make us healthy 

Of course, certain eating patterns are associated with improved health. But no single nutrient or food is going to make us “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

 

In fact, research shows that a large proportion of our health is determined by factors outside our control. The Centre for Disease Control says 5 main factors affect our health. These are genetics, our environment, social factors (ie living conditions, income, education), medical care available and individual behaviors (1).

 

A paper from Harvard estimated that of these, 75% of health is determined by social factors and the medical care we have access to. That only leaves one quarter for genes, environment and our individual behaviors.

 

Our individual behaviors can be broken down further into smoking, alcohol, exercise and of course, diet. So while diet does affect our health, it’s one of a multitude of factors. Certainly not the be-all and end-all of health that diet culture would have us believe.

 

The point here isn’t to disempower. Of course, eating more fiber, vitamins, and minerals is good for our body. The point is just to realize that diet is not the be-all and end-all of health. This can help keep a lid on our food critic and chill out a little around food. 

 

I’ll be posting a follow up on ways to silence our inner food critic. In the meantime, take care ❤

 

 

References
1 https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/socialdeterminants/faq.html
2 Travol, Public Policy Frameworks for Improving Population Health

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