I bet you have seen this before. It's Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and I feel really helps us understand why eating concerns, worries, frustrations and anxieties can feel all-consuming.
According to this theory, when your basic need for food, eating and nourishment is not being met, it becomes much harder if not impossible to progress through higher levels of feeling safe, loved, worthy and enough.
Having your needs met creates a sense of well-being and connection, confidence, security and trust. When your body signals hunger and you choose not to feed it, an internal alarm sounds creating a stressful internal environment. The continued lack of response to your intuitive signals results in a decreased sense of well-being, lack of confidence, inability to make wise decisions and lack of trust (not to mention a disturbance in your hormonal balance). It’s here where you may be tempted to look outside of yourself for answers. If you lack trust and confidence in yourself and feel you aren’t able to make decisions that meet your needs, it’s easy to find a diet to do it for you. However, this will never solve the problem at its root.
Instead, you will be your own heroine. You will act for yourself instead of being told how to act. YOU will increase your own sense of well-being, confidence and trust by learning about, listening to and meeting your own needs. It is this very act, the one you may fear the most, which will lead to freedom from overwhelming food fears, concerns and anxieties. As nice as it is to have others in your life fulfill your needs, it can only go so far. In order to meet higher levels of need and feel confident in your ability to do so, you will need to be able to meet your own basic needs.
This likely explains why I disagree with the idea of diets and promote the principles of Intuitive Eating. The minute you start a diet you create distrust with your body's intuition and natural ability to meet your needs (not to mention throw off your body's natural chemistry balance). You aim for perfection in following someone else's plan, instead of identifying what patterns and behaviors best suit your well-being. What follows may be years of distrust, lack of confidence and emotional distress. It’s a horrible way to live, but I’m so happy to tell you there is a way out. Take it a day at a time.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD