Navigating womanhood often entails a complex connection with one’s body.
Many women perceive their bodies as projects to be contoured and adjusted to fit societal ideals. There’s a persistent pressure to shrink here, enlarge there and conform to an idealized body standard. This burden is something many of us carry from a young age, often using nutrition as a tool to achieve these unrealistic goals. In this pursuit, the purpose of nutrition shifts from nourishment to fitting into a mold that can be challenging to embrace.
As we delve into discussions about relationships this month, let’s explore our relationship with our bodies and consider how nutrition can enhance it.
For myself and many of my clients, understanding our body’s requirements and consciously using food as a means to nourish and honor our bodies proves immensely beneficial.
Here are a few strategies to transform this relationship:
1. Embrace food as nourishment, not punishment. Shifting this mindset takes time, yet the effort is profoundly rewarding. When making food choices, ask yourself, “What would be the most nourishing option for me right now?” This mindset shift conveys respect and care for your body, contrary to the common question of, “How can I get by with as little as possible until my next meal?”
2. View mealtime as an opportunity for nutrients. Instead of focusing solely on calorie or carbohydrate intake, prioritize maximizing nutrient intake. This signals to your body that its well-being is your priority. Food should serve as a source of both macro- (carbs, fats, protein) and micro- (vitamins, minerals, etc.) nutrients essential for the myriad processes and functions it undertakes constantly.
3. Tune in to your hunger cues. Society often pressures us to dismiss hunger signals, whether by suppressing morning hunger with coffee or ignoring afternoon hunger with sugary drinks. We’re conditioned to eat less, overlooking our body’s cues signaling meal times.
The trust in your body’s signals might have been eroded from a young age. Many of us were confined to eating schedules, dictated what and how much to eat and met with resistance when deviating from those confines.
Understand that reshaping your relationship with nutrition and your body initially might feel uncomfortable. It might require time, dedication and perhaps external guidance. However, the freedom gained from trusting your body and the nutrition you provide is truly invaluable.
Bri Edwards is a holistic health coach at Healthy Foundations in Dubuque.