A topic very dear to me and importantly, a founding principle here at Appetite By Anika! In a world of dieting and body ideal pressures, food freedom has rightfully claimed its position by nudging us to reconsider and connect with our body to find peace. Many among us believe that we have food freedom because we have the freedom to buy, prepare and decide our meals. However, that’s not what I’m referring to when I say food freedom.
Food freedom is the opposite of food fear and restriction which is often guised as being disciplined or motivated. In more literal terms, Melissa Hartwig, author of Food Freedom forever, defines food freedom as the ability to be in control of food instead of food controlling you.
Taken from https://www.redbubble.com/i/poster/Food-freedom-definition-by-Pictandra/63303265.LVTDI
SO why is food freedom great? Let me tell you! 😉
- You learn to respect our body
Is losing weight your top priority? Do you weigh yourself constantly before and after meals? Have you followed multiple diets and kept at it even though you felt tired and hungry constantly? These are all signs of food restriction that most of us fall victim to.
Food freedom teaches us to break away from these habits. Instead, food freedom allows us to respect body and hunger cues. Learning to honour our body is so important because we are responsible for our health and wellbeing. So..
- YES, we can eat when hungry without compensating for calories by burning them off in a rigorous workout before or after food. Try not to view food as a reward.
- YES, it’s ok to take a day or two off if your muscles are aching for some relaxation. Further exertion is likely to lead to long term damage. Exercise should not become punishment!
- NO, you don’t NEED to lose weight unless your weight is affecting your quality of life. Diet culture is ready to feed on your insecurities but take a moment to appreciate your body and all that it does to keep you healthy especially in these trying times.
- You can start fixing our relationship with food
‘Earning food, cheat meal, clean eating’ are all terms from diet culture that only strains our relationship with food that is complex to begin with. Many among us have fought numerous silent battles with food that has led to disordered eating, toxic diet cycles and shame associated with eating.
By encouraging food freedom, we can learn to heal our past traumatic experiences and change our perspective on food to view it as enjoyable and nourishing. Although food fearing is ever present, practicing food freedom will allow us to be bold and confident in our journey with food.
- You realise that ALL FOODS FIT!
A phrase that crucial in our practice! All foods fit means that no food is completely ‘good’ or ‘bad’. When food is assigned such terms, most people end up with orthorexia symptoms, a.k.a, an unhealthy obsession with ‘clean and good’ foods. This also extends to our cultural foods that have and will always fit as part of a healthy diet. Foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat and salt (sometimes foods) are not nutritious BUT they absolutely fit to provide happiness and fulfillment.
With food freedom, we become aware that instead of good and bad, the focus should be on the frequency of consumption. If you crave a chocolate bar or ice cream occasionally, HAVE IT. Trying to restrain yourself from having it makes your craving more intense.
The bottom line: Food is enjoyable and nourishing. Food freedom resists thoughts planted by diet culture and allows us to have better relationship with food and our bodies. Amidst all the food fear mongering, choosing food freedom will provide relief and satisfaction!
So, how can you get started with food freedom?
In an ideal world, you would expect food freedom to come naturally but so many of us have lost touch with our intuitions. If you have underlying health conditions or have an eating disorder, please reach out for support. A dietitian can help you transition to normalised eating patterns, reduce distress around food and help you develop beliefs around food and around health. It takes time to find food freedom but recovery is so worth it. Are you struggling with food fear and looking to find food freedom? Click here to book a FREE Strategy Call.