At NF, we believe that you’re the expert of your own body. You may not know how to listen to her yet, but you absolutely know yourself better than any app, smart watch, or diet book ever could. A huge part of our role as NF dietitians and coaches is helping our clients tune back into what their bodies are telling them… Especially if dieting has caused those signals to be distorted, silenced, or labeled as untrustworthy.
Those bodily sensations and signals, plus your own personal experience and history are what we call your internal wisdom. But, like we said, once your psyche is infiltrated by diet rules, diet mentality, and diet culture, it becomes much harder to listen to and trust in that internal wisdom.
Here are just a few examples:
You’re scrolling on Instagram and see a post from @NoNutritionCredentialNancy that carbs at night will make you gain weight. So you swap out your usual sweet potato for more leafy greens. You go to bed with your stomach growling for weeks and never notice a change in the scale. You know you felt better before, but now you have this unfounded fear of carbs after dark.
Or before you did the Whole30 for the first time, spicy salmon rolls were your favorite. You never notice any digestive distress or negative side effects when you eat one, but you do always feel a little bit guilty whenever you order it now because rice isn’t Whole30 compliant.
Or let’s say your trainer, Meathead Mike, prescribed fasted cardio three times a week to drop the baby weight quickly. You’re still breastfeeding, so waking up at 6am to hop on the treadmill means you’re sacrificing a lot of precious sleep. Plus you always feel so nauseous when you exercise without fuel in the tank. But if fasted cardio is going to do the trick…
All of these examples serve to show how diet culture can bore its way into your mind and distort your own wisdom and intelligence. And it does this by design. The more confused and frustrated you are, the more money you’ll be willing to throw at the problem. It’s a vicious cycle that fuels the $72 billion diet industry and keeps sucking you in further.
Well, we’re calling bullsh*t on THAT, thank you very much. Here are a few ways to tune in to your internal wisdom:
1. Make note of your food or health beliefs and their sources.
Kind of like what we described above. You can make a little table that looks like this:
|Food rule/health belief||Source?||What is my belief?|
Give yourself some time to brain dump everything you’ve internalized about health– carbs after dark, white rice, fasted cardio, Bulletproof coffee, celery juice, etc. Where did this come from? Your mom, your trainer, an uncredentialed health influencer? And what do you actually believe here? Let’s say, for example, that you tried celery juice for two weeks to “cure” your eczema. And all you had to show for it was an expensive juicer and a bunch of wasted celery pulp.
(Psst… We did some of the work here for you! Download this worksheet to start inching closer to your inner wisdom.)
And what if you really don’t know what your belief is because you’re still struggling to tune into that internal wisdom?
2. Challenge those beliefs.
Depending on how long this list is, this could become a full time job. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start by picking out the three beliefs that either
a) cause you the most frustration
(ex: going to bed hungry sucks; try adding your sweet potato back in)
b) seem the least scary
(ex: fasted cardio doesn’t seem to be serving you, but an afternoon jog may feel really good)
The point here isn’t to make you or anyone else wrong. It’s also not to make you feel ashamed about what you’ve believed in the past. The point here is for you to get clear on what’s actually right for you! It’s to finally understand what you need in order to feel a vibrant sense of health that lasts. It’s so that you can create the life you want!
3. Remove distractions and slow down.
Think about this on the micro and macro level.
From a micro perspective, this might look like committing to one mindful meal a day. No phone, no computer, no book, no magazine, no Netflix. Just you and the food. Mindful bites. Thorough chewing. Let yourself slow down enough to really taste the food and understand how it makes you feel.
And if we’re thinking bigger, removing distractions might look like doing an audit of all the external BS that’s coming at you in the form of diet culture. Unfollow celebrities that sling detox tummy tea. Mute your friend who just became a Beachbody trainer. Clear your bookshelf of every diet book you’ve ever purchased hoping it would be *the one.* Commit to continuing to slow down to listen to your inner body’s wisdom. And if you ever start to get lost? Well, this exercise is always here for you.
“Ok, but what if I’m like really confused? What if I feel like I really don’t know what I’m doing?”
Well, you kind of do know what to do because you’re here asking for help. We created Nutritional Freedom: Foundations to help you examine your relationship with food and, you guessed it, getting back in touch with your internal wisdom.
You can learn more about NF: Foundations here. See you there, smarty pants.