As you may be aware, I am anti-dieting. One hundred percent, no qualifications, anti-dieting. No one should diet, ever.
(I do understand that there are some medical conditions which might necessitate a special diet, and those circumstances are obviously different than what I'm talking about. If you have Celiac, for instance, you will have to "diet" in the sense that you're not consuming gluten. But let's take those with special diets due to medical circumstances out of this post from now on.)
I'm always sad when someone I know starts tweeting or blogging very heavily about their new diet, and I've unfollowed people on both Facebook and Twitter for diet talk. I'm not sorry about that; I'm a vulnerable person, still, to diet talk. It's not hard for my mind to bring me back to a place where dieting maybe doesn't seem so bad, and if I just start restricting on a small basis, it'll be fine. It's never fine for me to feed my compulsions and give in to dieting. Never. The end. So I cut off all diet talk ASAP, and if that means temporarily or permanently cutting off someone on a social media network, so be it.
But I'm having a little bit of a dilemma right now, because someone I enjoy very much is talking a lot (okay, only) about their new "healthy eating" lifestyle. Yesterday this person tweeted about calling "healthy eating" instead of a diet, so it doesn't seem so much like a diet. And today, s/he tweeted about wanting a cookie and being glad there were none nearby, because s/he's "eating healthy"! I know this seems clear cut: I should probably just cut the person off my list (for now, until the non-diet diet talk stops) and be done with it. But I'm having a hard time forcing myself to do so.
I don't know if this is a problem for other people trying to do intuitive eating, but when someone says "healthy eating" it doesn't always trigger a diet-thing for me. I think there are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned with eating healthily without being at all concerned about weight. (The above-mentioned tweeter has never once mentioned weight in reference to "healthy eating".) For instance, there are some people (like me, in fact) who are concerned with hormones and antibiotics in dairy products. I only buy organic, good label milk because I want to drink healthy milk. It's not about dieting; it's about making sure I'm putting the right product in my mouth and body. I feel the same way about meat. I try very hard to buy only good quality, well-sourced meat. I pay more for those things, but again, I'm concerned about the healthy eating aspect of milk and meat enough to pay more.
The problem with my twitter friend above is that s/he is denying themselves something they want. S/he wants a cookie, and s/he won't eat one, because apparently cookies aren't allowed as part of the "healthy eating" plan. This "healthy eating" lifestyle won't work if you deny yourself food. One cookie now is a whole lot more healthy than five cookies later (which you may end up eating because you let your craving for a cookie get the best of you). I, of course, don't care if you eat one cookie now or seventy-bajillion cookies now; intuitive eating says that neither is wrong. But intuitive eating does say that not eating a cookie when you want to eat a cookie is the very locus of disordered eating to begin with. It's a problem. It's setting yourself up for failure.
I don't know how intuitive eating works for everyone. I do know that for me, my body tries really hard to balance things out. I haven't eaten meat in a couple of days (just happened; wasn't a conscious decision/choice), and last night I started desperately wanting a burger. My body was telling me to eat meat, because I haven't. Lately I've been eating a fair amount of fruit (which I really don't like all that much, generally), and I'm sure there's some nutritional reason. My theory, anyway, is that if my twitter friend ate the damn cookie, her body would move on and she'd want something else. Maybe something that more readily falls into the definition of "healthy", at least for this person. But by not eating the cookie, isn't there the chance that the desire for the cookie will become all-consuming? I think there is.
Of course, I haven't unfollowed this person. I may yet. I may not. What I really want to do is send him/her this link and get on my soapbox a bit. I really want to say, "Eat the goddamn cookie and stop beating yourself up about what you like to eat" or "Healthy eating is fine as long as you're eating what you want, when you want it." I'm not going to do these things, obviously. Just as I don't want you to preach to me about your diet, I can't imagine anyone wants to be accosted by me. I'm keeping my tongue.
But it's very hard. Now I'm going to sit at my desk and savor that burger I had for lunch. It was really tasty.