The most common thing to come to mind when they hear the word nutrition is weight loss. As if the only reason to eat healthy is to lose weight or change the way our bodies look in some regard. Nutrition is so much more than a way to force our bodies to look a certain way.
Firstly, we absolutely have to eat. That is a non-negotiable fact of life. Food fuels everything we do. Food gives us the ability to exist on this planet. So why then do so many of us struggle with getting proper nourishment without guilt? In our culture food is associated with morality. We experience a feeling of superiority when we abstain from eating certain foods and guilt when we break down in times of distress or celebration and eat those same foods.
Body Positive Nutrition (BPN) takes the morality out of eating. You are neither good nor bad for the foods you choose to eat. Ideally, through BPN you allow yourself to eat intuitively without shame and guilt. You know which foods best nourish your body and choose to eat them for that very reason. You also realize that food is an integral part of our human connection and allow yourself to experience the joy of that connectivity. As I was growing up, my mother would cook delicious foods with such joy that you could feel the love in every bite. To this day when I walk into her house she asks if she can cook something for me. Missing out on that delicious food would deny my mother of the ability to show me her love.
Attempting to stay on a diet at the expense of connectivity is something I experienced during a 15-year eating disorder. When I would refuse to eat certain foods at gatherings with friends and family I drove a wedge between myself and the people I love.
Abstaining from foods for the sole purpose of losing weight can be both dangerous and detrimental, but it is important to note that many people have food allergies or sensitivities that dictate that they do avoid certain foods. In this case it is important to listen to the signals your body gives you and respond appropriately. Food journaling can be very helpful in both identifying reactive foods and moving towards intuitive eating.
Another important piece in the puzzle of BPN is exercise. Human beings need exercise in order to achieve and maintain health. This includes physical, emotional and mental health. One of the foundational understandings in BPN is that every body is unique. This means that while all people need to eat differently in order to maintain optimal health they also need to exercise differently. While some prefer a slow moving gentle yoga class others might feel better after a high intensity spin class. Part of BPN is being adventurous and getting out of your comfort zone. Try new forms of exercise and find the one that brings you joy. Part of my eating disorder recovery was allowing myself to let go of doing exercise that felt boring, torturous or forced. Moving your body should feel intuitive and fun!
Body positive nutrition overall is the knowledge that you are a unique being and you are the only one who lives in your body. That means you are empowered to be its advocate. There is no singular right way to take care of a human body. It is up to you to put the pieces together and solve the puzzle. There is also no perfect body. We are beautiful in our flaws. Loving your body and taking care of it the best you can is all you need to do.