Exploring Freedom In Your Diet
Whether you’ve struggled with restrictive eating habits in the past and you’re looking to explore the world of food in a more holistic manner, you want to become more intuitive in the way that you fuel yourself, or you want to support your health and wellbeing by eating a broader range of foods, it might be time for you to start exploring freedom in your diet!
In this article, we’re going to be discussing the fairly new concept of “food freedom”, why it’s so important, and exactly how you can explore food freedom within your diet.
Why We’re Talking About Food: It’s Important To!
Before we talk about anything further, I think it’s first important to briefly talk about why we’re going to be discussing food and diet.
Food is typically a difficult topic to talk about, there’s no doubt about it. Personally, I have shied away from discussing diets and food for a long time after dealing with disordered eating in my early teenage years.
However, after getting to a place where I was comfortable speaking about food and my relationship with it, I realised that so many other women also struggled/wanted to connect with others and discuss food in a positive way/felt like the only resources they could find out there were too scientific or overly negative.
So, It’s time to change that! If you are in a place where you want to learn more about food and you’re ready to explore freedom within your diet in a positive and supportive way, hopefully, this article can be a shining light for you.
Studies show that out of the estimated 700,000 people in the UK that have eating disorders, 90% of these people are women. If you struggle with an eating disorder or you suspect that you do, please seek professional mental health support.
What Is Food Freedom?
Whilst choosing to have freedom within your diet isn’t exactly a new idea, “Food freedom” is a concept that’s come into mainstream media over the last few years, but more specifically, over the last year or so via social media.
Whether you’re seeing your favourite influencers posting photos of meals with the caption, “food freedom”, or you’ve seen TikToks using the #foodfreedom, you’ll likely have discovered that this concept is cropping up all over the place.
So, what is it?
Well, food freedom is an idea that spans right from ditching dodgy diets to adding new foods into your diet to boost both certain aspects of health or wellbeing in general.
Although the idea of food freedom is supposed to help people who either currently do suffer from eating disorders or have done in the past, it’s also an approach to food and diet that can help anyone and everyone that wants to utilise it to improve their health and wellbeing.
Essentially, the concept of food freedom is exactly what it sounds like: it’s about finding freedom through food and eliminating fads and diets, restrictions and rules, and judgement associated with different types of food.
Why Food Freedom Is So Important: Let’s Get Rid of Diet Culture
Obviously, the first reason food freedom is so important is that it may actively help those that struggle with disordered eating. However, as an entire movement, food freedom can also be incredibly important when it comes to ditching diet culture.
Diet culture is obviously bad for our minds - it encourages restricting ourselves, relies on us thinking our self worth is aligned with our weight, demonises certain foods, and promotes an unhealthy relationship with food overall.
However, it’s not just our minds that suffer from diet culture, our bodies do too. Most of the popular diets out there heavily restrict certain foods or entire food groups, not allowing our bodies to benefit from foods that we actually need to properly function at an optimal level of wellbeing.
Additionally, if you’re looking to lose weight, diets are very rarely the answer since our bodies go into a state of metabolic adaptation just a week or so after starting a restrictive diet. In order to support the natural balance of our body, if we begin to eat less, our body burns fewer calories. This means that long term, weight loss cannot be achieved by restrictive dieting.
So, let’s ditch diet culture for good - it doesn’t benefit anyone, at all.
How To Explore Food Freedom: 8 Tips
So, now we know why it’s so important to ditch diet culture and say hello to freedom with food, take a look at these tips to help you when it comes to exploring freedom in your diet.
- Say Goodbye To Labelling Food
One of the very first things you need to work on when it comes to exploring freedom in your diet is to stop labelling specific food or food groups as “bad” or “good”. All food provides you with different nutrients and you can enjoy each type of food in a unique way. So, try to get rid of the idea that some foods are a big “no” and try to reframe your thoughts surrounding different types of foods and the judgement that you give them.
- Reinforce The Permission You Give Yourself To Eat All Foods
Saying “I will eat all types of foods” isn’t going to change your neural pathways instantly. Instead, you need to continue to reinforce the permission you give yourself to eat all foods, whether that be on a daily basis multiple times when you’re preparing food, or on a regular basis when you find yourself questioning your strength to explore freedom in your diet.
- Don’t Put Too Much Emphasis On Food
Although it may sound silly, since this entire article is about food and you’re clearly on a quest to explore food freedom, you actually need to detach yourself slightly from food and stop putting such an emphasis on it. Try to detach your emotions from your diet and invite food freedom into your life without forcing yourself to think about each meal or focusing on food 24/7. It may help to pinpoint other aspects of your life that you can divert your energy to and get excited about when you find yourself obsessing over your diet.
- Set Boundaries With People/Situations That Make It Difficult For You To Practice Food Freedom
Unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable that there will be certain people or situations that make it difficult for you to practice food freedom. So, try to get clear on which people/situations these are and then set boundaries. You can either distance yourself from them whilst you’re on your path to food freedom or communicate your needs and boundaries to them and get them to respect and support you. Just always remember, you are important and the boundaries you set are there to protect you.
- Tune Into Your Body and Honour Your Hunger
Your body is wonderful - truly, it is! If you can attempt to tune into your body, listen to it, and honour what it needs from you, you will find it easier to explore food freedom in your diet. Whether you take a trip to the grocery store and feel pulled towards fresh fruit for no reason or you feel like you need a bar of chocolate randomly, your body is telling you what it needs, so try to listen. Doing mindful activities like body scans, meditations, and breathwork can help you to become more in tune with your body and its needs.
- Don’t Compare Your Diet To Others
The worst thing you can do when it comes to exploring freedom in your diet is to compare your diet to other people’s. Everyone eats differently because everyone has different needs and wants. So, unfollow anyone that sparks judgement and comparison in your mind, keep your distance from people that engage in comparison with diet, and focus on yourself and your body - this is your journey, no one else’s.
- Consistently Work On Body-Neutrality
Whilst body positivity might have been the thing a few years ago, it can often be difficult to not buy into the toxic positivity surrounding this movement and it may actually put too much emphasis on your body - there really is so much more to you than your body. So, try to focus on and work towards a state of body neutrality.
Body neutrality is a concept where you can live without putting too much emphasis or emotion onto your body either way - positively or negatively. It’s about existing in a way that you understand your body is wonderful but it doesn’t define you. For many, trying to embrace body neutrality can help when it comes to exploring food freedom, since you’re simply honouring the needs of your body, regardless of what that physically looks like or equates to.
- Seek Professional Support
There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional support when it comes to exploring freedom in your diet. In fact, it can actually be incredibly beneficial to have someone to support you during this time. So, if you can, maybe you want to think about reaching out to professionals, joining a group, or finding educational resources that specialise in supporting food freedom.
Let’s Talk About It: How To Explore Food Freedom If You Have Restrictions Due To Health Reasons
It’s also incredibly important to mention that whilst you may want to explore food freedom within your diet, you may be someone that has to avoid certain foods or restrict your consumption of certain foods due to health reasons. For example, if you have PCOS you may be on a specific FODMAP diet or you have to avoid dairy or gluten. So, what should you do to encourage food freedom in your diet if this is you?
Well, firstly, obviously it’s incredibly important to eat in a way that suits what your body needs and if that means avoiding certain foods, try not to feel frustrated. Although you definitely could let loose and treat yourself to the odd food that you’re craving every now and again (if you know you can handle it), there are also other ways to explore food freedom in your diet.
Why not try to spice up your meals by trying out a new recipe that still suits your requirements? Why not add more suitable foods into your diet that you rarely have or have never tried? You can explore food freedom in a way that suits you and supports your needs, you just might have to get a little more creative with it!
It May Be Long-Game, But You’ve Got This!
There’s no way around it, exploring freedom within your diet is something that you will do in the long run: it’s not a quick fix, it might be difficult, and it may take time to reach a place where you feel truly free.
However, there’s never been a better time to start exploring this concept and enjoying all of the mental and physical benefits that nourishing yourself properly, restriction-free, has to offer.
So, are you in? Let’s find freedom, together!
Disclaimer: this article is here for educational purposes only and we are not giving active advice. You should always seek the advice and support of medical professionals if you have queries about your health or want to change your lifestyle dramatically. Additionally, if you struggle with an eating disorder or have done in the past, please seek professional mental health support.