Millennials were raised being surrounded by some pretty toxic “ideal” body types – wafer thin white bodies. But as we all know, the “ideal” body isn’t generally the average body, or what’s healthy to achieve. In this episode, we’re looking into body acceptance and healing with Marie-Pier from The Balanced Practice.
Our body (or our Earth Suit as Marie-Pier likes to call it!) is our place of being and living, and it does so many amazing things for us, and that’s what we should be focussing on! We believe it’s important to learn how to love and accept our body and all its changes, including all of the amazing transformations it goes through with motherhood. Marie-Pier is an expert in helping people recover from body issues and issues around weight and food, and we’re so excited to chat with her today.
This episode is taking a close look at the “ideal” body type, why and how that came to be, and all the ways it has and will continue to change. We’re also talking about disordered eating, diet culture, and changing our mindset around all of it. This is such an informative episode and I’m sure you’re going to love what Marie-Pier has to say. Our body is the place we inhabit and loving it is so important for our everyday lives and wellness.
Interested in this episode and others like it? Join the UM Club! Every week features a new guest and amazing content, so make sure you don’t miss out!!
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Marie-Pier is an anti-diet Registered Dietitian with a B.Sc. in Psychology and the founder of The Balanced Practice, a interdisciplinary team specialized in eating disorder/disordered eating recovery. After completing her first degree in psychology, Marie-Pier struggled with an eating disorder. After recovery, she went back to school to become an RD with the dream to support folx in their own food journeys. Marie-Pier is passionate about helping folx discover how to ditch diet culture and nourish their bodies without guilt, shame or restrictions. You can spot Marie-Pier on local news, radio stations and giving presentations to different organization on nutrition! She is the host of The Balanced Dietitian Podcast where she provides listeners a different approach to nutrition. Marie-Pier supports her clients through The Balanced Program, a 6 month group program designed to help folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies
In This Episode We Talk About
00:39 – Who is Marie-Pier?
05:51 – Diet culture and its impacts.
12:33 – How the ideal body image changed over the years.
25:18 – Body acceptance and what it means to accept your body.
32:27 – What we can do to help our body image.
38:55 – Moving forward in body acceptance.
43:24 – Where to find Marie-Pier!
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Listen to the Audio
Join the UM Club!
UM Club Facebook page
The Balanced Practice
The Balanced Practice Blog
A Parents Role in Eating Disorder Recovery
Marie-Pier’s Instagram: @the.balanced.practice
Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison
Read the Full Conversation
Hello and welcome to another episode inside the Unapologetic Moms Club. I’m very excited to be speaking with Marie-Pier from the balanced practice. Welcome.
Hello, thank you for having me.
I’m so excited. We just got in chatting before we even started recording. And this is going to be a fantastic episode all around diet culture, body acceptance – all these things us as millennial women have been going through and evolving as our bodies change with kids and all that good stuff.
Yep, it’s a loaded subject for sure.
It really is. So let’s dig right into it. Let’s start out with a bit about you. Who are you? What do you do? Why are you so passionate about this topic?
Yeah, for sure. So my name is Marie-Pier, you can also call me Marie. I’m a French Canadian girl living here in Ottawa, Canada. And I think for me, I have always been more concerned about my body. Like I remember being eight years old and having my first thought about my body being inadequate. I was definitely like the bigger kid, the chubbier kid. I saw my mom diet through my whole childhood. Although she never made comment about me, like she was definitely on Weight Watchers counting her points at dinnertime, like it was something that was very present in my life. And very present at school, when I start to compare myself to other girls in seeing like how my body was and how their body was.
And just the language around food and body that is very normalized in diet culture, like it’s something that we talk about, we talk about the diets we’re on and how our body needs to shrink for the summertime. A lot of these things that, as a kid, really impacted me, and I internalized a lot of that.
So through high school, my relationship to food and body was very poor. And I was an athlete, which, for me, made it “better,” in the sense of because I moved so much, I was okay with the fact that I could eat. But then going into university, that’s when I saw a lot of my body issues come back. I was unfortunately in a relationship that was really abusive. And when I left that relationship, I started to bully my body, and it was full out my body became my scapegoat, my body became this thing, this project, that I needed to change.
And I became obsessed about it, obsessed about how my body needed to look, and the way that I needed to eat. I was in that mindset of like, “I know, I’ll never be a thin girl, but I can be the most fit girl ever.” Like, I want to make my body so good so I don’t feel that pain anymore. Because the way I internalized it, based on all my childhood of internalizing that my body was not good enough, is that that’s why the relationship didn’t work. So that’s where my mind went. And very fast, my relationship to food, to dieting, to just trying to be better and healthier turned into an eating disorder.
So I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. And when I was done my first undergrad, which was in psychology, it got downhill real fast from there. I was very lucky because I got access to care. And I know this is not the reality for everyone. I was able to get into care, get into hospital, and start my own recovery journey. From there, I decided to go back to school to study nutrition to be able to support folks through that, because throughout my own childhood, teenage years, early 20s, I saw all of the red flags that kind of led me to that point and things that could have been done potentially better, and be more protective in terms of having a better relationship to food and to my body.
So big story very shortly. And that’s how I got started. So with my bachelor’s degree in nutrition and psychology, I then started my own practice where now we are eight people in the practice, we’re dieticians, therapists, and social workers, who help folks in having a good relationship with food and their body, we help people recover from their eating disorder. And even just folks who are just like chronic dieters who are just tired of being at war with food in their body, learn to have a better relationship with themselves, learn to have peace with food and work on that peace of body image from a different lens. I think we’re very much taught that to feel good in your body, you must be different, you must lose weight. Whereas we learned that like actually, that’s not really the case, right?
A lot of people will look back at photos like “ah, but I look so good there, why was I not happy?” That’s because body image has very little to do with our actual body and more about how we feel about our body. So that’s what we do now. We help people through their own journey to have food freedom and just feel better in their body outside of diet culture.
I love that, and what an incredible journey, and seeing how things kind of built up for you, and having that crisis point, and really having that motivate you to not only help yourself but to help so many other people. And you’ve built this incredible practice around it with some other amazing women. That’s pretty incredible.
Thank you so much. Like looking back, I’m like, I would not wish an eating disorder on anyone, but I’m kind of happy that it like got that bad because it got me to get much better and then be able to help folks too. So it’s kind of a weird relationship I have with my past eating disorder.
Yeah, I think that’s very common for a lot of those kind of crisis points or big life changes. You don’t necessarily want other people that go through those. But that just fueled the fire for whatever incredible changes happened for you. So that’s really neat to see.
Yeah, thank you so much.
I think that’s a very similar situation many women around our age, millennial women, have been through. We grew up in a time, where we’re bombarded with messages of just very, very thin celebrities, low rise jeans, the massive importance just on looks, and not as much else for women. So let’s dig into that a little bit, about diet culture and what we’re raised in and how that affects women – men too, but women especially.
Yeah, women have like a special place in diet culture, where we’re meant to believe that our purpose on this earth is to have this perfect body that will appeal to everybody and like very based on their appearance. So I guess to start off with describing what diet culture is. My favorite definition of diet culture is by Christy Harrison, who’s a dietitian in the state – she wrote the book Anti-Diet, which if you haven’t read yet is wonderful, a really cool way to understand why diet culture is there and like disordered eating and all that stuff.
But the definition that she uses is diet culture is a system of belief, that is basically oppressive, that tells us that, you know, thinner is better. Like we worship thinness, the thin body is the best body, anything that’s not thin, not ideal. And that weight loss is a means to have more value, right? If you lose weight, you are a more valuable person than if you do not. It attaches our worth to the size of our body, but also the colour of our body, the shape of our body, and just this idea of like having to fit into this society’s mold that changes throughout the years, and we’ll talk about that too. And also then demonizes food, right, like we label food as good food versus bad food, we attach our worth to our food choices. If I eat something that is deemed good, therefore I am good. If I don’t, then I’m not. It places a lot of emphasis on wellness and clean eating and all of these things that kind of get us into this mindset of needing to be like perfect with food and very all or nothing in order to achieve this thin ideal that we believe we need.
And the issue with a system like that – well, I mean, there’s many issues with a system like that – but it is oppressive for everyone, right? Like, even people with a thinner body, it still impacts us, because then we have this conditionality of like my body is only good as long as we stay here. And then life happens. You know, you get pregnant, you have babies, you age, like your body will change. And so it impacts everybody. And from the other side of the spectrum too, like if we are in a standard-sized body, larger body. We continuously feel like we are inadequate, like we are not enough, and our body is not enough. We won’t be accepted, we won’t be loved, we won’t belong, right?
And there are three big drivers to us wanting to change. And that’s how I like to explain it like through my programs with my women, because we kind of sometimes get to a point like “I get it, diets don’t work, we’ve heard this-” but why do I keep going back? I’m continuously stuck in this cycle.
And oftentimes, if we don’t feel safe in our body for any reason; it could be medical, like if you’re being told because of your body, you’ll have all these health issues. It could be because we were bullied. Any reasons that in our own body, we don’t feel safe. It could be based on trauma that we’ve had within our body as well. And we’ll want to change, right? When we don’t feel safe it’s a huge trigger to want to change. If we feel discomfort. So just that can be from the physical point of things, like feeling uncomfortable physically in our body. But it could also just be the thoughts that lead to our body feeling uncomfortable, right? Like it’s not adequate. It’s not enough. It should be different than it is. It creates a lot of discomfort for us. And then there’s the peace of belonging. If I believe that because of the body that I’m in, I will not belong, maybe I’ll be teased or I won’t be accepted by my peers. Same thing. It’s a huge driver for us to then want to change.
Absolutely. Yeah. Especially that sense of belonging. I think that’s a really big one or at least it was for me. It’s when you have this kind of body, you get a certain kind of attention, and people treat you a certain way. And so you want to maintain that, to maintain the kind of status quo and are worried of what might happen if my body does start to change, will I begin to lose those different things?
Yeah. And it’s hard because ultimately your body will change, it’s just the amount of time, right? And it’s the same thing with body image work. Like if we’re only happy with our body when our body looks a certain way, and I’m restrictive and I’m working out all the time, and I’m doing all of this – it’s very fragile confidence because it will most likely change. And then we’re kind of like back to square one, we’re like, “oh, my God, now my self-worth is back down to the ground.”
Mm hmm. And I love how you laid it all out. And it makes so much sense of how these things work and that it’s not necessarily the best mindset. But at the same time, it’s really hard to overcome that in your subconscious, because we still have those images, and those things of just kind of going back to default, I guess. And it takes a lot to really overcome those thoughts.
Yeah, 100%, and social conditioning, right? Like, we’re born with zero beliefs, like all of us are born fresh. But then from living in the society, from your own experiences, your parents, for me watching my mom diet, at school, everything that we learned – we didn’t create those beliefs. So a lot of these things are deeply internalized, right, especially when we think of the society that we live in with diet culture and fat phobia, and the way we feel about larger bodies. A lot of these things are conditioned.
So it does take time for us to be able to unpack some of that and find your balance and what you can feel good with, that’s personalized for you. And it’s also, in my perspective, some of the most important work. I really, really believe our relationship to our bodies is so very important, because we can’t run away, those are like the two relationships that last forever and will be there with you. Like, you have to eat multiple times a day, every day. So if that relationship to food is hard, it’s hard every day.
And then the same thing with our body. You will leave live in your earth suit forever, like your body is where you belong. So if we feel like we don’t belong, or we don’t like the body that we live in, it’s also very, very hard, it creates a lot of discomfort and a lot of friction in day-to-day life.
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And, yeah, it’s just crazy to me how we put so much focus on our bodies and bodies and how it equates to happiness. But in reality, like there’s so, so much more than that. But before we dig into kind of body acceptance and overcoming that, I’d love to hear a little bit more about the changes of diet culture, and those body image ideals, and kind of good food and bad food over a period of time. Because even in our lifetime, we’ve seen like when we’re younger, very, very thin. And that is changing. There’s a lot more body acceptance, which is great to see. But I also know historically, like think back to Marilyn Monroe, the ideal body image was much different than it is now or in my younger days. So I’d love to hear from you what you’ve seen in your research for how that has changed over the years.
Yeah, no. 100%. So the beauty standards does change, like decade per decade, like there has been – I don’t have it in front of me. But there are like pictures of which decade and what was the body type that was accepted. And it’s really interesting when we see that, because if we are always striving to fit the body type of the moment, it changes all the time. And our body, our human body, can’t do that. Like it’s not a fair ask to try to fit what is the current body ideal of the moment. But we know that diet culture has not always been there. Even when we think of like intentional weight loss, like intentionally trying to shrink our body, is a new concept, right?
Hundreds of years ago, this was like never heard of. And even when we think of our biological body, and we can talk about that too, like why it actually backfires when we diet, our body doesn’t like that. It’s not in line with our own survival mechanism. So with time, what happened is that like, even when we think of over 100 years ago, like a larger body was actually what was ideal. You know, this was what people were striving for, this is what they were looking like. And I don’t know if you’ve ever saw these ads of like, I’ve gained 15 pounds in one week, and I’ve never felt better. It was completely opposite. It’s super interesting when you see these ads and just like, what were the messages in these moments.
And then it kind of flipped around to be like now weight loss sort of the thing, and it has been that way for multiple decades now of like weight loss being what we strive for and that thinner ideal. But that thinner ideal has changed. In some decades, it was just like very thin straight bodies, looking almost like prepubescent bodies. And then it went to a lot of curves. And we saw that in the 90s as well, like curves, but those low rise jeans, like still very, very, very thin, but needed to also have like breasts and like an ass. And now we’re in the stage where it’s like very fit body with like a really, really big bum. But yeah, a really, really big bum, very athletic looking, very small chested. Every decade has a different look.
And it’s also associated with like, even when we think of the food and the way that food plays into that, also has a different role, right? Like, when my mom was growing up, everything was like anti-fat, like, don’t eat fat, fat is like not good for you, only focus on like sugar, carbs and protein, don’t have fat. And then we started in the 2000s of like keto, keto came out, Atkins diet, like low carb, eat all the fat that you can, completely different. Now we’re having a lot more of the plant based lifestyle. And again, keto is still there. I think we’ll be there for a while.
But even with food, like we see these like tendencies and these trends of like what is acceptable in this moment. And a lot of it is not really based in science, it’s like just different diet fads and trends that come in. But that we fall under these new promises that diet culture tells us to meet, this new idea that diet culture also has for us.
Mm hmm. It’s really interesting to see the ebbs and flows. And like, just to say, it’s not that any of these particular body types are bad, it’s just so much more than that. It’s not that all of us need to fit this ideal. And with it constantly changing, like you’d mentioned, it’s just not realistic for us to constantly keep up with these things and try and morph into this different mold as it’s constantly changing. And really taking that step back. And for our body like us, I like how you said Earth suit, I thought that was such a cute name for it, and how it’s really our vessel to be and to live. And so that’s something to really nurture and fuel and have work for us rather than it be where our worth comes from.
Yeah, and I think that’s the part with body diversity, where they’re trying to see more of. And again, it’s not that any body type is wrong, like the body that you live in right now is perfect. Like, that’s just the body that you’re in, and it should be celebrated. But it’s when you’re told that we should all be the same, like that’s where the issue lies, right? Because again, even if you are that body type, the body type of the moment, it still puts a lot of pressure on you like, “this is where I need to stay.”
Versus if you don’t have that body type, then it’s the never-ending race to get there. But it’s the peace of like accepting body diversity, of like you in your body is good where it is, your body is good. And then we learn to connect to our body and nourish our body and have us be the best version of us not having to rely on those external factors, right? So like being able to allow that body diversity to be there. And I always like the comparison of like, we are very fast to except height diversity, right? We’re never gonna be like, everybody here needs to be five foot five, do whatever you can to be five foot five. Like that is the norm. That’s what we want. Right? It sounds ridiculous.
Yeah, no, that’s so interesting that you put it that way. I’ve never heard of anyone mention it. But you’re so right, no one bats an eye on the different height differences. Like there might be on the very tall scale. I do have some very tall friends that feel a little bit outside of the norm range, but it is absolutely nothing compared to how much pressure is put on the width of bodies.
But even your tall friends who are like, “oh, I wish I was shorter.” They wouldn’t be like “it’s my personal duty and responsibility to try to get shorter.” Right, there’s clearly there’s an acceptance there of this is my height. This is just where I am. Whereas with body size there is this idea that we get to control our body size. And we can debunk that a little bit, because the way that I see it is yes and no. People hate when I give that response. But we have some control short term, but long term we truly do not, like our body weight is determined by a multitude of different things, it’s not just calories in calories out. If it were, everybody who has done diets would be a smaller body. But it’s not, it’s not just calories in calories out. We have a range in which our body wants to be, we call it the setpoint, typically it’s like a 20-pound range which our body wants to belong into. Our body feel safe with this, we’re not feeling a threat, our body can function optimally.
And the issue with diets is that we try to get outside of that range, and then your body is threatened and the threat response will respond. And what happens is that everything in your body will start pushing you to want to go back to that weight and sometimes even higher to try to protect you.
So the way that I compare weights is almost to breathing. I can yes and no control my breathing, right? Like I can somewhat control it for a period of time. But if I were here today and telling you like, “hey, hold your breath, just hold your breath for as long as you can.” You wouldn’t be able to do it for like, what, 20, 30, maybe a minute long. But then eventually what you do is like a big gasp for air, right? Because your body’s biological primal survival needs would take over, you’re no longer holding your breath now. So noq you’re either going to faint, so your body can breathe automatically, or you’re going to gasp for air. Right? It’s the same thing with our weight. If your body gets to a point where it feels threatened, it takes over for you.
And that’s what we see with diets. Everything in our body when we think of our hormones, our neurotransmitters, the way that we process and digest food, our stress response. Everything is modified when we are in a state of threat or restriction of dieting. So it kind of forces our body to come back. And I think it’s really just important to talk about this, because we have this idea of like I get to control. But not really. We can control our health behaviors, we can control how we treat ourselves, the way we talk to ourselves, the way we nourish our body, allowing all foods to fit. We can control those parts, but then our body will do what our body will do.
Mm hmm, absolutely. And hormones plays such a big role into it, we have a previous episode about reclaiming your hormone health. And it was really interesting for me to learn and dig into the different kinds of hormones and how they play a role in this. And if you’re constantly dieting and say over-exercising to fit these ideals, your stress hormone is just like flooding cortisol all over the place. And it is not helping anything for those. And that’s where people start gaining weight and hitting those plateaus because your body is not meant to be in this heightened stress mode of trying to fit these moulds.
100%. And that’s what we see over and over and over again, right, it’s like, you lose weight, you regain, you lose weight, you regain. And even long-term studies of folks who diet tend to gain like 10% of body weight over the years. Whereas like people who are non-dieters, who are more like intuitive eaters who are still able to nourish your body – not dieting does not mean that you don’t care anymore, like we can nourish your body in a really great way – tend to have very stable weight, like their body is just able to regulate itself. Like that’s the goal, right? That we don’t have to use so much power and try to micromanage our nutrition, we get to learn to trust our body again.
Absolutely. And how you related it to breathing – I really like that you’re great with your metaphors and analogies, by the way. But with that, it almost takes a lot of pressure off that like our body is the way it is, it’s going to do what it’s going to do within this little kind of range. And it’s okay, like we can step off of the control a little bit and let our body do what it needs to do and inherently knows what to do.
Yeah, yeah. And I wanted to say there, and I know we’re going to talk about this with body acceptance. If you live in a larger body, or even just the body that you’re in, you’re unhappy with the body that you’re in, this can be really hard to hear too. Some of us will have to go through a period of like body grieving, we call it, where it’s almost like letting go of all the expectations that we’ve placed on our body and how that feels for us. Because I know with a lot of folks that I work with, in the balance program, this like desire to lose weight stays there as we do this work. Like I don’t think it’s a fair ask to be like, “hey stop wanting to lose weight as we do the healing work” because it doesn’t happen. A lot of us are conditioned to want to lose weight. So we can do this work in tandem. And we can still have the desire and choosing to heal first.
But a lot of folks, as we go through this, there is a period with the body image that there is grief of like, what if my body were to stay this way? Right? Like what does that mean to me? And it can create a lot of different emotions based on the beliefs that we have. But even like the grieving of like letting go of diets, right, a lot of us have spent many, many, many years dieting. So what does it mean if I don’t do that anymore?
I just wanted to add that there because sometimes it can feel heavy thinking about all of these things. And even when we’re like, “oh cool, like let go of body expectations.” I think in the society that we’re in, it is easier to do when you live in a smaller body than if you live in a larger body, it’s extremely hard to be able to do that. It is doable. A lot of people have done it and like we can do this work together. And I just want to add that there is that other layer of like, and then how do we manage like living in a world in the body that we have?
Absolutely. Like, it’s easy to say fuck diet culture and like I’m going for body acceptance. But it’s another thing to actually go through that and become comfortable with your body. So let’s dig into body acceptance. Because I do think it can be a tough concept to really wrap your head around. And I do like that you go for acceptance rather than body love. Because I think loving your body can be a very daunting task for some, but acceptance is something different. And I think that’s a little bit more achievable and manageable. And we don’t have to love every part of ourselves all the time, because I personally don’t think that’s practical, either. But we can accept our body.
Yeah, yeah. And I love that you’ve worded with that, because that’s the same way that I word it. Body love is not achievable for all, it is a big ask. It’s a lot and it feels like a lot. And also, we don’t need to love everything about our bodies. So the way that I see our relationship to our bodie is kind of like a relationship that we would have with someone else, right? Like, it is a relationship. It’s not like we’re trying to reach body acceptance and then I’ll stop working on it the same way that you’re like, “hey, I want to date this person, I’m gonna work really hard to date them. And then I’m just gonna do whatever I want, right?” Like, I see it as a relationship that we continue to nurture. And I think that’s really, really important too, because it’s a journey not a destination type of thing. It’s something that we’re going to continue to do.
And I think the first step in terms of even when we think of accepting, I just like to say, because when I first heard that word, I was like, fuck acceptance. I’m like accepting is settling and giving up and like, I’m not that person, I don’t want to give up on myself; it brought a lot of feelings for me. And I noticed that for a lot of my clients, when we hear accepting, we’re like, “but I don’t like where I’m at, I don’t want to accept where I’m at.” So I just wanted to bring in that nuance here that accepting your body does not mean that you’re giving up on your body that you’re settling, or it doesn’t even mean that you need to like the body that you’re in.
When we think of accepting the body that we have, it’s getting to a place of like almost having more of that peace with our body, of I can acknowledge that this is the body that I have here today. And no matter how I feel about this body, I get to take care of it. And that part is very different from “oh, I love my body, my body is great and whatever. I’m just like settling for it.” No, this is the body that I have, like no matter how I feel about it today, like it’s still the body that I have. Me wishing it to be different and postponing my life to be a certain way before living is actually not helping me live today. So when we think of this body acceptance, it’s a deeper connection of this is me here today. And that is okay. And like me here today is deserving of whatever thing I want, right? Health, happiness, confidence, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You get to have it all here, not 10 or 20 pounds from now.
Absolutely. I really like how you separated that a little bit. And that yes, we can have these certain feelings and thoughts about our body. But it’s learning to still, I guess, put love into our body, like we can still nourish our bodies, still have the experiences that we should, even if we happen to have certain thoughts. And it’s that work, going through that process, and it slowly gets easier and you have less of those thoughts. But you don’t necessarily have to get rid of them all to work at body acceptance.
Yeah, it kind of makes me think – I always explain it like this with moms. You love your kid. But sometimes you don’t like your kid. But you’re still gonna feed your kid, wash your kid, get them ready to go for school. Like you’re still gonna take care of your kid no matter how you feel in this moment, right? And it’s the same with your body, like even if you’re creating a lot of discomfort for me today, even I woke up and I’m like, “man, today’s hard. Like I look at myself and I’m feeling defeated.” All the feelings that I may have around my body. I’m still going to show up for it, I’m still gonna nourish it, I’m still going to move it in a way that feels good for me, I’m still going to do the things that make me feel good, right? Because the way I feel about it does not need to impact my behaviors toward it and like it’s a hard thing to do. And it is what we strive for as we do this work.
And there’s also steps to that body acceptance. I think the way I teach it, I think it’s like step number five. We don’t start with that. Like it’s really hard from going to a place of like “I hate my body, I don’t want my body, I want my body to be so different” to “okay, cool, I can accept it.” We will go through steps to get there, because it takes time. And if we can see our relationship with our body like a relationship that we have from a human, you won’t go from hating a human to accepting a human, right? We have to go back to building respect with them, building trust with them, maybe start to appreciate some parts of them before we can accept them.
So it’s kind of like seeing it in that way. A lot of us, if you have a really hard relationship with your body, we need to repair that relationship. We can’t just skip that many steps, like there’s processes and like ways that we get to reconnect to the body that we have.
Absolutely. And I like how you related it to our kids. Because that’s something I bring up in terms of self-care and making time for yourself and things like that. It’s like us as moms, just because we have kids doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, our needs and wants don’t matter anymore. No, we deserve all of these things just as much as everyone else we’re taking care of. And so if we can echo those thoughts, in terms of our body, and what you had said about kids, as like, “yeah, maybe I’m not necessarily liking certain things,” but we can still give it that same priority and attention that it deserves, regardless of that.
Yeah, 100%. And I love that because even with all the moms that I work with, like what’s cool is that we have this idea of doing this work takes a lot of time and effort. And like I’m already busy, I don’t have time and effort to give to something else. And I hear that. And what most people will say is, you actually gain a lot of time, because if you were to think right now, like how much time in your day do you spend thinking about food? Do you spend thinking about your body? Do you spend thinking about like feeling guilty about what you should or shouldn’t do? Or how you should feed your kids? Or how you should feed yourself or what you shouldn’t have or what diet you’re on? And how many points is this?
It’s a lot of frickin time and energy, even for our own mental capacity. When we’re able to do this work – and yes, it is time and effort at first – but we gain a lot more time because we don’t have that battle in our head with food and your body all the time. It’s just gone, right? And that’s really cool. It actually gives us a lot more time. So we’re able to show up in other activities and other things that we want to do.
Absolutely. And it’s kind of those small changes and thought processes, and it really builds. So let’s dig into that a little bit more. What are some things that we can do? What is a little bit of the process? Obviously, we can’t share it all right now. But what does it basically look like? And what are some practical things people can do?
Yeah, for sure. I think the first step always is just awareness and acknowledgement. In any type of behavior change that we would do. It’s almost like seeing ourselves as scientists, like what is the data? Like what is actually happening right now? Like, how often am I actually thinking about my body? And when I think of my body, what thoughts do I have about it? Just building awareness to understand how is it for me right now? This is always going to be the number one step.
And same thing with nutrition, right? The way that we think about food, what we believe to be true about foods, like just having a picture of like here right now. How is it like for me? Gathering that data is always the first step, because it’s hard to change any behavior, beliefs, thoughts, or anything if you don’t know where you’re starting from. So I think that would be the first step. So kind of just being more aware of like, even asking those reflective questions of how do I feel about my body? How often do I think about my body? Or what challenges do I have around food? What is annoying to me or frustrating to me around food?
So then we’re able to start putting things into place to be able to support, right? So on the body peace of things, like something really actionable that we can do. And I don’t know how you guys feel about this. I used to think this was very woowoo, but it’s not very woowoo, it’s actually science-based, but even starting to show body gratitudes daily. This is a practice that can really change the way that we start perceiving our body.
And the reason for that is – I know gratitudes, I mean, I feel like there’s a lot of thoughts about gratitudes – but gratitude forces your brain to see things differently. If the narrative that we have around our body right now is my body’s not good enough. I hate how my body has changed. Whatever thought that we have around the body that we have, those are the stories that are playing in the background all of the time. When we start to lean into body gratitudes, when we start everyday being grateful for different things about our body. Like I am so grateful grateful for my taste buds because yesterday I had fettuccine alfredo with chicken. It was so delicious and I got to so much pleasure from it. And like, how cool is it that I get to taste food, like life would be so boring if I couldn’t taste food.
Yeah, I think many people who have had COVID have been experiencing that, I heard of someone who she hasn’t tasted food for a year and a half. And it has being like really hard. And she lost a lot of weight at the beginning, because she just didn’t want to eat food. Understandable, like you’re not getting any pleasure from it. And then it got to a point where, okay, things aren’t changing. I need to actually fuel my body. But yeah, we are really lucky to have these amazing taste buds that make food this pleasurable experience.
Yeah, yeah. So all of those things that we can be grateful for. Andeven like the small things, they’re like “oh, this is dumb.” Like, it helps. Because what you’re doing is you’re literally changing the narrative, like, the way that I relate to my body is so different. When I see my body it’s just this amazing thing that allows me to do all of these things in this world. So that would be a really great first step in terms of awareness and starting to change the way that we relate to our body.
Mm hmm. And I like how you mentioned the tastebud part of it. And thinking about this gratitude piece, it doesn’t necessarily need to be about how our bodies look. It’s more about what our bodies can do for us and how amazing they are in so many ways, and being able to pick up our kids, run around and play, because not everyone’s body is in a healthy place to be able to get down and play with our kids. And so that’s something to be really grateful for.
Yeah, yeah. Like every little thing. And one of my clients, she always says – I don’t know where she got this from. But she’s like, “my body’s an instrument not an ornament.” That’s her mantra. And I’m like where’d you get that, it’s so good. But it’s so true. And it’s the same thing with our gratitude, trying to not focus on the appearance of our body, because that’s what we’re trying to disconnect from. We’re trying to find more of a internal worth, right, of like “just because I’m living here and breathing here, I am inherently worthy.” But continuing to detach that from the way that I look and make it just because I am, just because my body is the way that it is. And it’s really awesome.
Yeah, and learning that kind of flip the script process is so helpful in so many ways. I feel like over the years, I’ve used it in different ways. I used to be a very negative thinker, like in a not good point in my life. And that’s where I kind of first started the practice. And it’s identifying the thoughts. That’s the first thing because they are so automatic. Once we can identify, then we try to flip the script. And then through doing that, and constantly trying, it starts to be that those flip the script thoughts start to become your main thoughts over time. And even with resentment, when I became a mom, I was very resentful in the first year. And one thing that helped me, among others, was flipping the script. And if I’m thinking like, “oh, my husband’s not doing this, or why am I stuck doing this?” Like, okay, he does a lot of things he doesn’t like doing either. And then kind of putting that gratitude piece for what he does. So that thought process works pretty amazingly, in a lot of different ways.
Yeah, it’s really cool, the way that our brain works, in terms of like what we focus on will show up, right? And like perception bias, like if I’m always focused on what is good about this, that’s what my brain will show me more of. And that piece is super, super cool when we get to like – again, we get to, like you said, flip the script, we get to perceive things differently. Just because we have lived maybe in diet culture for so long and had this relationship with food and body doesn’t mean that it has to be the same, and it definitely can change for the better. And it’s just starting to do some of this work.
Absolutely. So what are some other things we can start to do as well in the body acceptance journey?
I would say like honestly, start with those two things, because it’s a lot. It’s really a lot to start to notice everything that is coming up. But if we’re doing it, we are aware of all of the things and then we’re able to show gratitude daily, then I would try to focus on the piece of like taking care of our body, however that looks for us. Because I’m a registered dietician my brain always goes to food. Nourishing your body consistently enough throughout the day is step one. I think especially parents easily can kind of put themselves in the back end and like not maybe nourish their body. And then like kids go to bed and they’re like, “oh my God, I need all the food now because I haven’t nourished myself enough.”
This piece is also important and I think this goes on like food relationship but also the relationship with our body. Like if we’re able to help our body feel safe by fueling it appropriately throughout the day enough. Like we need a lot of food, our body needs a lot of food, that can be super helpful too. So even like taking into assessment like, “okay, am I being kind to my body with food? Am I nourishing myself enough, am I giving my body enough energy for all of the things that I demand of my body?”
Our body does so much for us on a daily basis and saying “am I returning the favor by being able to be gentle with it, and nourishing it, and giving it truly enough food?” Which I think a lot of us have been sold this idea that we should try to eat as little as we can, which we shouldn’t. The body just needs all of this energy. And like, it’s so wonderful when we’re able to do that. So I think that would be my other first step in terms of that food piece of like, making sure that we eat, you know, our three meals and snack as needed. And it’s constant, and it’s enough for our body to start to feel safe.
Absolutely, I feel like we could go into a whole episode on the fueling your body and just giving it what it needs to sustain. Because you’re so right, we can get in the mindset of like small amounts of food, too busy to eat, not thinking about it. And then so many of us at night, that’s no our body needs something, it’s craving things. And so that’s where all the overeating can happen. And then the thought processes can happen from that and eating the bad food, and I’m bad. So working at really, from breakfast onwards, fueling your body are some great steps to take.
Yeah, 100%. And like if you have the capacity to be able to do the work to heal your relationship with food and body, it’s such a cool journey to go through. But the outcome is really, really neat when we’re just in this good space. I’m saying this because I’m picturing myself like, eight years ago listening to this and be like, it sounds easy to say just nourish your body and take care of your body. But it didn’t to me, like it was just such a mess. I’m not one of these people, I need a plan, I need a diet or else I lose control. I can’t trust myself. So if you’re in this space, like I just want to tell you that I hear you, it’s really a tough place to be. And knowing that it can be different, right? You inherently can trust yourself, we’ve just learned not to, and the same thing with like taking care of ourselves, too.
Mm hmm. And it’s almost like you had mentioned before with kind of being the scientist and being aware, we’re not always going to eat in like “the right way,” like the most healthy ways. And that’s not what it’s about. And as we’re learning to be more intuitive, we can go kind of off the deep end in different ways. And so it’s taking a step back with that scientist role and not punishing ourselves. And just like, Okay, this is what’s happened. And so maybe let’s try changing things a little bit so I’m feeling my body better.
Yeah, yeah. And I like that. It’s not all or nothing and like, man, our bodies are not that fragile. There are some people like “you must eat this and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And like our body is fine. Our body will adapt. Like, yes, there’s like this nutrition foundation that we can do to like optimize our health and stuff. But you don’t need to be perfect. Your body doesn’t need you to be perfect either. We’re really not that fragile, and it’s fine.
Yeah, we can handle it.
Well, we’re coming up to time, I feel like I need to have you back for like multiple episodes on eating and then the kids piece like we talked about. But for now, where can people find you to see what you’re all about, get some more information. I know you have some great blog posts, workshops, things like that going on. So let’s hear about it.
Yeah, of course. So I hang out the most on Instagram, if you are in Instagram, like that’s where I spend a lot of my time, I find it really fun. Instagram is the place @The.Balanced.Dietitian. And I think they have a lot of free content on there as well, like tips and tricks are probably my favourite thing.
And also I guess two things that I can share. One like when this episode will be coming out. Every month, we come out with a new blog post on our website typically geared towards like eating disorder disordered eating. And this month we’re doing it on parents and the role of parents in supporting their children with an eating disorder, or how to support them even before we develop an eating sorter. As parents, what’s really frickin cool is that you can have such a big protective role in your child’s life. So kind of unpacking that and help create these like safe homes for children in terms of body image and food. So that’s one thing that you can check out.
And we always have a workshop too, so we’re doing workshops in May on how we can start eating guilt-free every day without having to diet, so food freedom, how do we actually do it and those steps. Because I think it’s easy to be like “have food freedom and eat all the foods.” But then there’s the other part of it of it like, “okay, but how?” You can also access that as well. And I can share the link with you. We can put that in the show notes, if you’re interested, and it’s going to be for free as well.
Yeah, awesome. Lots of good things going on and lots of great resources, so I’m sure many will check it out. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here and share all of your knowledge and great metaphors and analogies with us.
Thank you so muhc. It’s funny because my partner would say that I’m the worst with metaphor, so I’ll be like, “nope, I heard today…”
You are very good! He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Maybe it’s just cuz we’re on the same wavelength.
Exactly. Well, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed having this conversation with you.
Thank you. Me too. And thank you for everyone listening, you can pop into the Facebook group or group chat and we can dig into things further. Until next time, take care!
Thanks for listening this week! If you want to chat about this episode with me and other moms, check out the exclusive UM Club Facebook page! Thanks again, and we’ll see you next week!
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