Today is Eat What You Want Day – a rather fitting day for an eating disorder clinic, don’t you think? The theme for today is all about letting go of restriction and allowing yourself to “indulge” in whatever you fancy. Whilst this is obviously a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all things yummy, two thoughts immediately come to mind:
Why only today?
It’s saddening that we require a national (potentially international?) day of celebration or awareness to allow ourselves to eat what we like. Whilst many people may see today as an opportunity to break from their typically “healthy” lifestyle, we shouldn’t require external permission to do this, let alone require a particular calendar day within which it can take place.
If today encourages people to come together to celebrate and “indulge” in their cravings, why don’t we put our energy into encouraging everyone to forge an intuitive relationship with food. By doing so, we would remove the shame that’s associated within “indulgence”, and instead, adopt a more accepting view of how each person has their individual relationship with eating.
Similar to the likes of #nodietday, every day we should be allowed to eat what we want. We’re all human, yet we’re all individuals whose needs and appetites vary. Let’s celebrate that!
Some may struggle with this more than others
At the clinic, we promote intuitive and mindful eating in nutritional therapy sessions and food groups.
Intuitive eating is basically listening to the nutritional needs (and cravings!) of your body and responding to them. Being mindful involves “eating with purpose and presence, with intention and attention.”
By these definitions, if we were all able to eat intuitively we would eat what we want everyday – not requiring a particular day that encourages such a behaviour. Instead, we choose restriction over fluidity in the hope that we’ll control our weight and size, maintaining an arbitrary – yet ubiquitously idolised – appearance. It’s really depressing that so many of us don’t feel we deserve to give ourselves what we want.
The irony is that restriction causes the polar opposite: by neglecting and denying our nutritional needs, we are more likely to binge and foster a shame-based relationship with food. However, if we adopted an intuitive approach to eating, we would naturally eat in moderation and avoid getting caught in a binge/restrict/shame/guilt cycle with food.
We’ve become disassociated from our intuitive needs due to proliferate information (correct or otherwise) online about what we should or shouldn’t be eating. Food – for people both with or without an eating disorder – should never have become so complicated. Needing an awareness day like today merely exemplifies how distorted our relationship to food and eating has become.