When I first came across intuitive eating, I thought about dieting similarly to an addiction, and starting intuitive eating was a bit like getting into recovery. (I've been in recovery from addiction for almost twenty years, so it's an easy way for my brain to process it.) While this metaphor worked, I was listening to fat activist Virgie Tovar speaking on a podcast recently, and it got me thinking about it in terms of a break-up, and I think this is a useful metaphor.
Just like a shitty significant other, diet culture promises you all kinds of things that it has no intention of delivering on. Diet culture promises you that you'll be able to lose weight permanently, easily, and that doing so will improve other aspects of your life. Reality is that it's nearly impossible to maintain long-term weight loss, and folks who do typically have very disordered eating and exercise habits. Weight loss also doesn't always lead to improved health outcomes, and it doesn't improve your body image. You're still yourself whether you're in a bigger or smaller body.
Just like any other break-up, I had to grieve breaking up with diet culture. I had to grieve the loss of all the things that it had promised me that were untrue. Think about the early stages of a break-up, where you may experience emotions ranging from absolutely gleeful to be rid of that toxic ass person, to later feeling full of sadness and self-blame that you couldn't make it work. Maybe you switch between those extremes multiple times a day. The same thing happens when ending your toxic relationship with diet culture.
Sometimes we only show the fun or easy parts of intuitive eating, but it's important to have the full picture. Break-ups can be wonderful, and sometimes, even when you know it is the right decision, they can also be hard as hell. If you're in the hard as hell stage (whether it's a necessary relationship break-up or dumping diet culture), it will get better. You got this, and you deserve better than toxic lies and empty promises!
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