The more I embrace Intuitive Eating, the less I care about food.
This title might sound shocking to some of you since I am a registered dietitian and have based my blog off of mostly food for almost four years now.
Don’t worry – I still love food and will continue to post food/recipes, but as I have learned to make peace with food, I have had the pleasure of discovering how much I care about other things, too. What I’m eating for my next meal and/or how many calories I’ve had for the day no longer takes up 98% of my brain space at any given time.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed that I’ve started to share a lot of things besides just food. (That is partly because it’s almost winter and I work full-time and it’s pitch black when I actually have time to photograph food unless I want to spend all of my weekends creating/shooting recipes, but that’s a rant for a different day.) I also share stuff on IG about my family, my dogs, some fashion and beauty, home decor, faith and other completely random stuff. Because guess what? I’m a human with multiple interests, just like you. It has been really liberating for me to discover that food and nutrition matter, but they are most definitely not the only things that matter. Most importantly, a lot of you have embraced the evolution of my Instagram account and blog along the way, and for that I’m truly grateful.
Social media is a funny thing. It seems that everyone has their “niche” and thinks they have to stick to it or else they’ll lose followers. Well, maybe that’s the case, but if I’m not allowed to post about anything but food and fitness without people unfollowing me, then I didn’t need them there anyway. I think it’s easy to forget that the people you follow on IG are just real, normal people like you. We care about a lot of things besides whatever our “niche” might be.
I spoke about this a little bit while talking to Heather Caplan on the podcast episode of RD Real Talk she recently had me on. (It’s titled “What Happens When You Stop Counting Calories,” posted on November 15th, 2018, if you wanna check it out!)
There are a LOT of dietitians on Instagram promoting intuitive eating right now. Yes, I am one of them. However, most of the other non-diet RD’s post solely about intuitive eating, body positivity, food freedom—all of those things that I love and 100% support, but don’t necessarily want to talk about every single day. Sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse talking about it all the time, and I also feel like a lot of the other RDs are better at putting those things into words than I am.
Do I sometimes avoid talking about intuitive eating out of fear of saying it “wrong?" I would be lying if I said no. I know there is no right or wrong way to practice intuitive eating, as the journey looks different for everyone, but I do know there is potentially a wrong way of presenting it to people who may not be familiar with it, or worse yet, people who are VERY familiar with it.
That’s not to say that I don’t think the intuitive eating community is welcoming and forgiving. I definitely do, and I consider several of them to be good friends. Sometimes I want to leave the IE talk to the pros, and throw it into my content every now and then because I want to be helpful to you all in that sense, too. How much is too much, and how much is too little? It can be hard to navigate.
It all goes back to what I said in the beginning. I care about so many things in life, and food is just one of them. Sometimes I debate whether it’s more helpful to talk about food LESS, just so people aren’t constantly thinking about it and obsessing over it, like I used to. You know, the whole “out of sight, out of mind” kinda thing.
I started my Instagram account and blog in May 2015 to help people be healthy and to try to make a difference. My definition of “health” is much different now than it was when I first started my blog.
I believe health can mean eating a variety of healthful foods, and it can also mean eating real pizza or dessert that contains refined sugar and dairy and gluten, etc., free of guilt and shame.
Health can mean exercising regularly in ways that you enjoy, but it can also mean taking a few days off each week because you mentally and physically need rest. Health can mean working your ass off on the things you are passionate about, but it can also mean getting plenty of sleep every night. Health can mean having a good balance between your personal and professional life, but it can also mean that things are a little messy and complicated, and you don’t have it all figured out yet. Good health is recognizing that relationships and the people you love matter more than anything else.
Knowing what my values are and having my priorities straight is what keeps me well. Nutrition and exercise are a few of the things I value, but they don’t come near my family, friends, faith, or all of the other things that keep me going day in and day out.
When you feel like the world is crashing down around you because you just CAN’T lose the weight or stick to your diet, try to do some prioritizing and remember why we’re here. In 30 years you’re not going to be wishing you wouldn’t have eaten that extra cookie at the Christmas party, or kicking yourself for skipping a few workouts during the holiday season. You’re going to look back on the precious memories made with the ones you love.
That is what the holidays are all about.
I don’t know about you all, but I work to live; I don’t live to work. A registered dietitian is part of who I am, but it’s not all that I am. First and foremost, I am a wife. I’m a momma of two precious puppies. I’m a daughter, a sister and a proud aunt. I’m a friend of many. I’m a niece and a cousin. I’m a sorority sister. I’m a Believer. I hope to be a mom someday, too. I’m also a lover of fitness, food and cooking. I am a dietitian and a colleague. All of these things can make up my existence simultaneously. Notice that my body weight and/or jeans size was not listed in what makes me “me”.
For some reason, all of this has really been on my heart lately, and I felt like I needed to share it. It’s easy to feel pressured by society to live or act a certain way, or even to value certain things, based on your profession or how others see you (especially on social media). I wanted to remind myself, as well as all of you, that it’s ultimately up to us how we want to live and present ourselves to the world.
Whether I’m posting about food, intuitive eating, body acceptance, or something completely unrelated to health, I want my blog & IG feed to be a place you can come for some laughs, inspiration, realness, positivity and to feel understood. I want you to know that no matter where you fall on the intuitive eating spectrum, we have more similarities than we do differences. If you are struggling with dieting, I see you. If you think intuitive eating is straight up crazy and counting macros makes you feel safe and in control, I see you. If you want to change your body, I see you. I’ve been there.
Just know that there is another way, and I’m here to help guide you toward a place of self-compassion and freedom from food rules, if that’s the path you choose.
Follow Shanna Hutcheson @wellnessforthewin