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Originally published at laurenbersaglio.com on June 21, 2012. Republished here with permission. Get your blog featured!
I talk about obsession vs. commitment often in regards to exercise (watch my video here). Recently, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this relates to Intuitive Eating as well.
First, let’s break it down:
- The state of being obsessed with someone or something.
- An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.
- The act of committing or the state of being committed.
- Dedication; application
In my journey through Intuitive Eating, I’ve found myself in both of these states.
In the beginning, I was committed. I believed in it, I wanted it, I decided to go with it. As time went on, however, my history with an eating disorder (which predisposed me in rough times to lean on rigid eating patterns) led me to turn my commitment with Intuitive Eating into an obsession. Rather than viewing Intuitive Eating as something I was choosing, something that offered freedom, I allowed myself to become enslaved by it (much like the enslavement I felt to my Eating Disorder).
For people who have a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder, it is common to find a ‘comfort zone’ in this form of enslavement. We tend to thrive (albeit in an unhealthy way) under an eating dictatorship–whether that be under the government of ED, some new diet, or even under intuitive eating.
When I allowed my Intuitive Eating to turn into an obsession, I gave up the very freedom that first attracted me to the concept.
This is not the way it’s supposed to be. Intuitive Eating is not about rules; it’s about choices. It’s about choosing to honour your cravings and your hunger/fullness signals because that is the decision you make for the sake of your health.
With commitment, there is always freedom to choose. However, commitment is still a commitment, which means you are still choosing to follow the Eating Guidelines, not because you have to, but because you want to. There is a difference.
Because eating intuitively is a choice, you also have the freedom to be gracious with yourself. You don’t have to follow Intuitive Eating perfectly. There is no ‘messing up’. No guilt. No shame. Isn’t this why we all gravitated towards it in the first place?
If you are obsessed with Intuitive Eating, then your thoughts, your day, your activities revolve around it.
Obsession looks like these thought patterns: “I can’t go for sushi with Jenny, I’m craving Tacos.” “I can’t have a piece of my birthday cake, I’m not hungry enough.”
Commitment, however, looks a whole lot different. You are able to go for sushi if that’s what Jenny wants because you are able to be flexible. And you can eat your birthday cake because it’s your birthday!
As many of you know, recently I was struggling a lot with my eating habits. So when I came home for the summer with the intention of getting some much-needed rest and also working to gain back a healthy relationship with food, I found myself applying the same ‘diet mentalities’ to Intuitive Eating.
I found myself “Starting clean on Monday” (in other words: I will eat whatever I want without stopping now because come Monday, the fun ends: it’s back to Intuitive Eating for me and honouring my appetite religiously).
However, I soon realized I didn’t like the feelings and thoughts I was having.
I realized I was applying my diet/ED mentality to Intuitive Eating.
And then I remembered: I am not obsessed with Intuitive Eating, I am committed to it. This is a choice I am making for my health, a choice I already committed to, so there is no ‘come Monday,’ there is only now. And ‘now’ doesn’t mean perfection and it doesn’t mean feeling guilty for my compulsive eating habits, either. It means remembering why I wanted Intuitive Eating to begin with, and then committing to it.
I encourage you to assess your relationship with Intuitive Eating: are you committed? Or have you let your commitment turn into an obsession?
Remember the reasons you chose Intuitive Eating–the freedom of choice, the grace–and make sure those reasons still stand true for your relationship with food today.
Don’t give away your freedom.
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