Hey there, fellow moms on a postpartum weight loss journey! Today, I want to dive deep into a topic that's close to my heart—the concept of food freedom and how it plays a vital role in our pursuit of overall health and wellness. Surrounded by diet culture, let's break free of restrictive eating and embrace the beauty of all foods fitting into our balanced approach to postpartum weight loss.
Understanding Diet Culture and Its Effects
Raise your hand if you've ever felt the overwhelming pressure of diet culture. You know we have all been there at some point in our lives. Right now, our bodies look different than they did before our babies so you are probably feeling that pressure right about now. You know, that relentless voice dictating what you should and shouldn't eat? How much to enjoy something, how much or little to eat something, and what to cut our completely. Diet culture preaches quick fixes and restrictive eating. What they don't tell us, is that quick fixes and restricting, usually end up with us gaining all of the weight back, if we were even able to keep up with the diet for longer than a day. Diet culture is bombarding us with harmful messages that warp our body image and self-esteem. But guess what? It's time to say enough is enough. We deserve better, and that's where the concept of food freedom comes in.
Embracing Food Freedom during the Postpartum Weight Loss Journey
Food freedom, is a breath of fresh air in a suffocating room. It's about empowering ourselves to make informed food choices based on our bodies' needs and desires, rather than following someone else's rules. Think of it as intuitive eating and mindful eating. A lifestyle shift that encourages us to listen to our bodies, honor our cravings, and bid farewell to food guilt. It's a revolutionary approach to postpartum weight loss that invites us to forge a positive relationship with all foods, and along with it, a positive relationship with our bodies.
All Foods Fit in a Balanced Eating Plan
Now, let's break down a common myth: the idea of "good" and "bad" foods. Every food has its moment to shine. Our bodies are incredible machines, and they thrive on variety and balance. It's time to give ourselves permission to savor our food, whatever it is, without any strings attached. Say goodbye to countless hours thinking about food, what you are going to eat, how terrible the food you just ate was for you and on and on and on! It is just an exhausting cycle of restriction and indulging. Imagine a world where you had a positive relationship with food. One where eating a snack or a meal or a treat did not send you down a shame spiral. A world where you could take a bite or pizza or ice cream without having to finish it just because it is there!
Finding Joy in Diverse Foods
Embracing a diverse range of foods isn't only about nutrition—it's about relishing the joy that comes with every bite. Explore different cuisines, experiment with new ingredients, and who knows, maybe you will find your new favorite vegetable! If you think you don't like veggies, try making them with salt and butter! Try pouring a cheese sauce over your broccoli or mix your veggies into a pasta sauce! When we sit down and actually spend time mindfully eating the meal we have prepared rather than being distracted with the T.V. or our phones, we might just discover that our tastebuds have changed. Mindful eating becomes a gateway to appreciating every food experience, turning each meal into a celebration.
Navigating Emotional Eating
Let's talk about emotional eating, a topic that often gets a bad rap. Guess what? Emotional eating is a normal part of being human. We all have moments when ice cream feels like a warm hug, or we are really enjoying our family on a vacation and a sugary iced coffee would be the cherry on top. The key is recognizing the difference between emotional and physical hunger and harmful vs. helpful. It is about being able to enjoy food, but still being aware of what is going on around you. There are sometimes where that ice cream is you avoiding an uncomfortable feeling. If you eat the ice cream, yes, the pain does go away - temporarily- but the problem is still there, so the feeling is going to come back. When we eat mindfully, we are able to say, "I really need some ice cream right now, but why am I so upset?" When we allow ourselves to have the ice cream, and we are also addressing the issues, ice cream becomes something we can enjoy, rather than only turning to it when we are feeling bad. It's about fostering self-awareness, self-compassion and non-judgment, acknowledging our emotions without using food as a crutch.
Practical Tips for Balanced Eating
Balanced eating doesn't have to be complicated. Do what works for you and your lifestyle. Planning and preparing meals not working out for you? Maybe try something else and see if that works! You know in order to have a balanced meal there needs to be some sort of protein and veggie combo along with a complex carb. Have some complex carbs in your pantry (brown rice, quinoa, anything whole grain really). Make sure you buy enough veggies and protein for the week and figure the rest out in the moment. Buy lots of "accessories" (a term I picked up from Ilana Muhlstein, registered dietitian). Accessories are anything you add to your meal to make it taste yummy and different. These could be sauces, dressings, condiments, salt, sugar... really anything to spice up the meal and make it enticing to eat. Mindful eating, without distractions, gives you a better chance of nourishing your body without overdoing it.
Challenging Weight Loss Myths
No, you don't need to starve yourself or follow fad diets, and in fact, starving yourself, or following diets that are not sustainable are probably taking you farthing away from your goal of longterm weigh loss. Instead, choose evidence-based practices that prioritize your health and well-being. Choose guides and mentors that are focused on health, rather than loose weight quick! Weight loss that actually stays off is a journey, not a race. I know it is really difficult to want to weight off, like yesterday, but if our goal is to keep the weight off and be healthy, we have to be patient.
Celebrating Progress and Non-Scale Victories
Because our goal is health, and we know that the weigh loss journey takes a little longer when we shift our goals, it is imperative that we shift the way we think about achievements in this journey. We need to look beyond the numbers on the scale, and celebrate the victories that truly matter, the non-scale victories. These can be anything like; Improved energy levels, a brighter mood, being able to lift your child up without hurting your back, fitting into your jeans without having to suck in while you zip them up. Yes, we have all been there many times. Have goals that indicate an enhanced overall well-being. You can also celebrate the hard work you are putting in to change your relationship with food. Goals like "I was able to say no to chips when I was not hungry." "I was able to come home, look into my pantry out of habit, not because I was hungry, and close it without getting anything out!" These are the gems that sparkle on our wellness journey. With every step we take towards health and happiness, we are creating a positive mindset that fuels our self-compassion and self-love.
As we navigate this postpartum weight loss journey, let's hold onto food freedom and health at any size. Let's challenge diet culture's toxic grip and embrace all foods fitting into our lives. Each meal is an opportunity to nourish our bodies with love, kindness, and respect. Remember, you are worth every bite of joy and every moment of empowerment.
And remember mommas, you are not alone on this journey called motherhood.
Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing specialized and compassionate mental health support for moms postpartum. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!