We live in a time when it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the information and messaging that constantly bombards us from many directions. Social media, email, and messaging on our phones have been added to the “old fashioned” messaging on television, radio, and in print. The internet is both a blessing and a curse. We have lots of information available at our fingertips, but much of it is related to trying to sell us something (services, things, or ideas), and it can be challenging to figure out which information is truly valuable, and which is just a lot of “noise” unworthy of taking up space in our minds. Even the worthy information can be overwhelming, because there is so much of it.
While my focus as a blogger will be mostly about making peace with your body (which includes how you feed your body), I recognize that there is a bigger picture, too. No matter the size and shape of your body, even feeling a general sense of peace of mind can be a challenge in current times. But making peace with our bodies can certainly contribute a lot toward building a sense of more general peace of mind. This especially applies to those of us who have larger (fatter) bodies. Did you know that the barrage of negative messages we get about our bodies is actually probably more harmful to our health than body fat itself? There is research on this topic!
Because there is so much “information noise” competing for your attention, turning your focus inward to ask yourself what is really, truly important to you as an individual can be especially helpful. If there weren’t any advertising, or any cultural or family messages about some bodies (and some foods) being better than others, how might you think differently about yourself, your body, and your food choices?
Many of the messages we see and hear are focused on what is best for our health. Do you believe everything you see and hear about health? There are lots of conflicting messages out there, in terms of what food choices are best for our health, so which do you choose to believe and why? Does your doctor always know what’s best for you? (Hint: definitely NOT always!)
There is a tendency in these times to rely on outside information rather than trusting our instincts and our bodies to help us make good decisions about what to eat (and how much) and what type of exercise we need. In reality, our bodies are amazing organisms that actually keep track of what we need much better than our minds can. But, many of us long ago stopped listening to our bodies, and trusting them to guide us well.
I’m a Registered Dietitian with graduate degrees in nutrition, so obviously I have devoted a lot of time to learning what scientific information we have about foods and nutrients and how much we need of them. Factual nutrition information can definitely be helpful in planning satisfying meals that nourish our bodies, but we also need to listen to our bodies and honor our body signals of hunger, fullness, and SENSUAL desires and satisfaction. Enjoyment of food and eating is a GOOD thing. I’ve heard some women lament that they wish they didn’t enjoy food so much. That makes me sad, really.
So, getting back to the theme of finding peace amidst overwhelm, I think a big key to doing so is to take a break from information overload and tune in to your own internal wisdom. Try letting go of the “shoulds” that may be implanted in your mind from other sources, and letting go of what others might think or say about what is best for you. Practice listening to your own authentic internal voice – NOT the internal critic’s voice, which tends to be much louder. What does your internal AUTHENTIC voice tell you about what you want and need? Try to listen to what your body and your authentic self are telling you without judging those messages based on external standards.
For example, when you go to a restaurant, think about what you truly want to order. Quiet all the cultural messages about nutritional “shoulds” and think about what would really taste good to you in that moment. Order that thing, and savor it without judging yourself. Enjoy eating the food that appeals to you in an amount that satisfies you. It may take some practice to really listen to your body without judgment, and allow yourself to find that point of true satisfaction, but it’s so worth the effort!