Earlier this week, I posted a link to this article on my personal and blog Facebook feeds. On my personal Facebook page, I said something about how it makes me want to cry when my friends talk about going on a diet.
Turns out, that was a provocative statement. The piece itself is provocative, I think, and that’s one reason I love it. When you are trying to shift a paradigm, people will be provoked.
The prevailing wisdom seems to be that in order to be “healthy,” you need to eat as few calories as possible. You need to discipline yourself and deprivation is a form of discipline. The diet industry and the health/fitness media have both made millions (billions?) off these concepts.
And that pisses me off.
Because I feel like that money has been made on the backs of women. I feel like these industries prey on our insecurities, our fears, and our desires to do right and well in this world.
I look around at my peers and at the women younger than I am, and I see women sacrificing their physical health for a media-fueled idea of what it means to be a woman.
The conventional paradigm is robbing us of our power, quite literally.
Low-calorie diets keep us running at less than full capacity. They make us cranky, tired and short-tempered.
Shortchanging our bodies of the nutrients that we need to thrive threatens our strength, vitality, emotional composure, fertility, and longevity.
The food industry pumps out gimmicky “products” like bars, shakes, snacks, and crackers that offer minimal calories for maximum pleasure. Trouble is, although our tongues may be temporarily pleased by the 100 calorie snack pack, our bodies crave more.
Our bodies crave nutrients. They crave the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants – things that only real food can provide.
Each and every cell in our body needs something to function fully. Nature designed us to get those somethings from food, water and the air that we breathe.
Imagine, if you will, a magazine that suggested in order to be healthy, we needed to restrict the amount of oxygen we took in each day? Insane, right?
Why is it any more sane to suggest that we should restrict the number of nutrients that we take in each day?
We are a nation that is largely overfed and yet undernourished. And I believe that because we are chronically undernourished, our bodies want to keep eating. Our cells are like, “Whoa, lady! I have specific needs here. You aren’t giving me what I need, so I’m going to keep sending you the starving signals until I get what I want.”
“And, by the way,” our cells are saying, “until you start getting me what I really need, I’m going to hang on to all this weight. Because I feel like I’m starving here.”
On the Balanced Bites podcast, Liz and Diane often say if you give your cells what they need, then your body will “let go” of the fat. So, instead of actively trying to lose weight, you feed your body what it biologically demands, and it will stop trying so frantically to hold on to everything you are sending it.
Frantic. That’s the feeling I get from my friends when they talk about dieting and weight loss. They seem frantic, desperate and frankly, exhausted from failed diet after failed diet.
I just can’t help but think of all of the amazing things womanhood could be accomplishing if we spent more time nourishing our bodies and spirits, and less time with the self-flagellation, the deprivation, the “discipline” and the fear.
I believe in my heart that the paradigm can be shifted. People like Liz and Diane I mention above are leading the charge. The Weston A. Price Foundation has, for years, been teaching people about the healing power of wholesome, real foods. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Chris Kresser, Chris Masterjohn, and more … they’re out there speaking, writing, blogging, and researching about the importance of eating real, wholesome, nutrient-dense foods. They, like I, believe that despite what the marketplace tells us, there is a different way.
As for me, I’m going to keep blogging about this paradigm shift. I’m going to give up my subscriptions to popular health and fitness magazines. When I teach my classes, I will continue to remind women of their power and their beauty. I will send them messages of nurture, not torture. I’ll focus on the way our movement makes us feel, not how it all makes us look.
That’s the small role I feel like I can play.
What are you going to do?