A common misconception around healthy eating pertains to the quantity of food an individual needs to consume on any given day. This often occurs because we have been misled by diet culture to ask the wrong question.
Consider the difference between these two questions:
We have to navigate messages everyday that suggest weight loss is equivalent to improved well-being so it is no wonder why most people default to the second question rather then the first!
Asking the question, "what does my body need to consume to lose weight" leads people to adopt behaviors such as calorie tracking and excessive exercise, and unfortunately, long term dissatisfaction with body size and food preoccupation. One study even showed that women, on average, go on a diet 130 times in their life! 😳
It is common for individuals that are not under the directive of a physician or dietician to be consuming between 1000-1800 kcals per day.
I was eating this way for YEARS, largely because a phone app and an online influencer told me it was how to be healthier. I truly believed that I was eating in alignment with my body's needs and yet my health and quality of life steadily declined. I, like many others, was misinformed and misled by diet culture.
When you are underfed, your body's regulatory systems becomes malfunctioning which can lead to...
Frankly, I don't care what that one influencer on Tiktok has to say about skipping breakfast or the app that tells you that white rice is bad... I want you to EAT! I want your stress hormones to regulate! I want you to enjoy meal time! I want you to feel liberated mind, body, and soul! I want you to stop feeling like you are doing everything "right" yet still feel like sh*t! I want you to be well nourished 🎉🤤🍲
It's time more people hear about diet culture deception so that they can be guided towards supportive health behaviors and mindsets. It's time we start nourishing our bodies with nutrient and calorically dense meals so that all of our cells can thrive and perform optimally.
So how much can I eat?!
If you download any diet tracking app, they will suggest a low calorie diet for your body type, simply based on your weight and your height, but friends, they have this equation all WRONG.
To be honest, I don't know how many calories your body needs today.
But guess what... Neither does that app on your phone!
Your body is complex; the amount of environmental and genetic factors that contribute to your unique caloric needs creates a complicated equation that you simply don't have to figure out.
All you need to do is start eating.
Pay attention to your satisfaction and satiation signals, consistently eat a variety of food groups everyday, and eat more than you think you "should" be eating.
Another supportive tip is to find hobbies, activities, and pleasurable experiences to engage with that are unrelated to food and diet. Food preoccupation will not help you in your nourishment journey.
Set boundaries with yourself around when to think about meals (ex. planning/grocery shopping/meal prep) and when to eat meals/snacks. When it is not those times and you find yourself thinking about food, redirect yourself to other thoughts and connect back to your current environment.
For some people, caloric tracking becomes a coping skill that helps them gain a sense of control amidst an environment that seems chaotic or unpleasant. If this is your story, let me break down some steps you can take to release this habit.
Lastly, if you have been underfeeding yourself for awhile, it will take time for your body to regulate and trust that it is no longer at risk of famine/starvation mode. There is some great literature out there to support individuals on this weight-neutral and health-focused wellness journey.
See if you can find any of them at your local library or bookstore:
Body Respect by Lindo Bacon
Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison
The F*ck it Diet by Caroline Dooner
You are not alone on this journey. You are loved, worthy, and enough. I am here to support you if you have questions or insights as you walk your unique path.