Mary E. Pritchard Ph.D.

Diet is a 4-Letter Word

Heal Your Relationship with Food and Your Body

Yes, it's possible!

Posted Jul 21, 2015

I am sitting here at my highest weight in a long time, truly comfortable with who I am and what I look like. Two years ago - even one year ago - I would have considered myself 'fat' at my current weight. Now, I don't. I've gotten used to my belly roll and cellulite. I can look in the mirror - without averting my eyes - and say 'I love you' and ‘You’re beautiful’ to the woman I see in the mirror. 

It hasn't been an easy journey, but I'm so grateful it's been my journey.

To celebrate my own acceptance of myself and my body and to further cement this, I decided to host a video interview series this summer: Embrace All of You: Where Goddess and Body Meet. I had the pleasure of interviewing some of today’s luminaries, all focused on learning to accept and embrace all of you just as you are. I want to share some of their wisdom with you because I hope it will give you the same kind of ‘aha’ moments that I experienced when it comes to our relationships with food, our bodies, and ourselves.

  1. Our relationships with food are often based on emotional rather than physical needs - Michelle Leath, a psychology of eating coach, said something during our interview that really struck me. We were talking about emotional eating and how so often we seek emotional nourishment from our food, rather than physical nourishment. She said to me, “What about what nourishes us with food and beyond food? It seems to me that the soul is left out of the whole conversation.” I think she’s right. Whether you’re dealing with food restriction, food rules, or emotional eating, our relationships with food seem to center solely on the food itself – food that we have labeled ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ But what about our relationships with ourselves? What is it in our lives that is making us turn to food and our relationship with food to cope with our problems? To provide emotional ‘nourishment.’ Yes, I get that certain foods are comfort foods for us – sometimes there’s nothing like a piece of chocolate, but more often than not when we are reaching for that food as comfort, aren’t we really looking for something else? A hug? Praise? A shoulder to cry on? Something to think about….
  2. Nourishment is so much more than the food we eat – Bonnie Giller, an R.D. and intuitive eating coach said something about nourishment that rang true for me. “If we’re not taking care of our basic needs, not getting enough sleep, not getting enough play time, we are not truly nourishing ourselves properly.” I agree completely! Yes, food nourishes us and we need both micronutrients (e.g., water, vitamins, minerals) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) to function at optimal levels. But, it’s more than that. Nourishment means getting your needs met – at a basic level, and at a deeper one. I think it comes back to what Michelle Leath was saying about the soul. Our soul needs nourishment, just as our bodies do, and eating ‘perfectly’ will only get you so far (and likely deprive you of some nourishment if you are so strict with your food choices that you never allow yourself a little indulgence now and then – or every day!).
  3. Mary Pritchard
    Source: Mary Pritchard
    We get to choose – whether it’s our relationship with food, our bodies, or ourselves, we get to create what that looks like. Dr. Anita Johnston, author of Eating by the Light of the Moon, said, “When someone is stripped of everything, there is one thing that can’t be taken away, and that is the meaning they give to their experience. And therein lies all the difference.” She said that in the context of recovery from eating disorders, but I think it applies more broadly to our lives. I believe that life happens for us not to us – that everything happens for a reason. Even when things aren’t going our way, there are lessons to be learned from that experience. That being said, it may take a little time for us to be willing to learn those lessons. I think Dr. Anita said it best when she said, “We have a wise part of ourselves that will not let us let go of something until we’re good and ready. But if we can envision it differently, then we step into the world of multiple possibilities.”
  4. You can heal – In one of my previous blog posts I asked whether you can every fully recover from an eating disorder. Responses were mixed, but all of my speakers agreed that full recovery is possible – if you are willing to dive deep. Holistic Nutritionist Jen Hoy might have said it best when she said, “Healing requires really accessing your own inner wisdom, your own power.”
  5. You have to take baby steps – If you have struggled with your relationships with food, your body, and yourself your entire life, do not expect to cure all of these toxic relationships overnight. Healing is a journey, one that takes time. And yes, you may experience the occasion setback. But if you are willing to take that first step, then the next, then another, over time healing will occur.
Mary Pritchard
Source: Mary Pritchard

I hope you find these interviews as inspiring as I did. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the quotes I provided, the videos themselves, and the principles I gathered from interviewing these amazing women.