The multibillion-dollar diet industry in our country focuses on what is measurable. That includes everything from inches and pounds to calories, to morality, which informs us how foods are good or bad (this week, month or year). This is why weight loss strategies in our current culture tend to be very direct: eat this, count your calories, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat fat, don’t eat sugar, protein is in, more green is always better, track your progress, etc.
This is all very left-brained, linear and controlled; it’s all about input equaling output in a clean defined manner; it’s all about connecting the dots. This is often referred to as a more masculine approach. And by masculine, we do not mean men, as if to say only men do this – not at all!
Both women and men adopt masculine methods in their lives, and for good reason. The left hemisphere of our brain is incredibly useful and important – it helps us distinguish and organize and define. There are many activities in life that require a left brain approach.
When we speak of feminine or right-brain approaches, we deal more with feelings, emotions, intuition and even dreams. It’s where our creativity, our passion and our ability to feel connected come from. It is here that we realize that we are more empowered when we leave stress and beliefs of scarcity behind. And the truth is: we all have masculine and feminine qualities within us. It provides us with balance.
So as you continue reading, bear in mind, this has nothing to do with gender or sexuality or biology; it’s merely feminine and masculine qualities that we’re addressing. And in this light, perhaps you’ve already noticed how we, as a society, tend to approach food and weight loss with a very masculine slant.
It’s visible in the “fit is the new skinny” and cross-fit models of fitness and body image. It’s intense, calculated, dynamic, and often ruggedly physical. This approach works for many, but it does not work for all – in fact, the group that seems to have the hardest time losing weight with these types of strategies is, well, women. Maybe it’s time for women to step into a more “feminine,” right-brained approach to their relationship with food. This is a powerful consideration for many who want to end the painful cycle of diet, deprivation and defeat that characterizes the 2 out of every 5 men and women who feel they have no choice but to be dieting all the time. By the way, these are just some of the key principles that we dive into in our premiere online program for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™.
We all know that the masculine approach looks like. It surrounds us in our American culture.
So, what does a feminine approach to food look like?
As an alternative, the feminine approach to food is based on creating a positive relationship with food versus a dominant or measured interaction. This relationship builds on respect, listening, honor and enjoyment versus restriction, managing numbers, and iron-willed discipline. The feminine approach to food and body is one of partnership – of connection. It’s the difference between doing something with our body – versus doing something to our body. It’s about learning how your brain and body actually eat.
Here are 3 steps for connecting with your Feminine at the table:
1. Slow Down:
Slowing down is the foundation to creating a feminine based approach to food: this means sitting down when we eat, and allowing ourselves to truly relax. It means chewing our food and breathing. It means putting our fork down between bites and being present while we eat. Slowing down is the first step in creating a positive relationship with our body because it invites us into a space of awareness. When we are rushing our meal or pushing ourselves to do the next thing on our list we are not able to notice what truly nourishes us.
Also, when we eat slowly, our appetite is naturally regulated – our digestion is empowered through the physiologic relaxation response, and we can actually enjoy and assimilate what we eat – without hungering for more (because we missed the eating experience by munching our meal too quickly). Slowing down is the foundation to the second step to adopting a feminine approach to food – honoring your body. After all, slow is the new sexy.
To honor our body means to listen to its full and hungry signals. It means sleeping when we are tired. It means listening to our body’s symptoms as messages that deserve to be heard. Honoring our body is working in partnership with our body, versus overriding its messages, and making it conform to external ideals and expectations. Honoring our body means listening to our needs and desires, which leads us to the third tenet in fostering a positive and feminine approach to food and body – giving ourselves the gift of pleasure. It means adding in with some real-life superfoods.
3. Step into pleasure
Slowing down and honoring our body sets the stage for experiencing some Vitamin – P: pleasure in our body. When we give ourselves the permission to experience pleasure, we are walking firmly out of the restrictive masculine approach and into the abundant and flowing feminine approach. There is great power in pleasure. Allowing ourselves to seek out and experience true pleasure moves our body into a relaxation state. When we are in a relaxation state we are supporting our metabolism, immune system and digestion. Pleasure also completes the cycle of the feminine approach to food and body because, when we experience pleasure, we often slow down and honor our experience.
The three steps are intertwined and feed into each other – creating a flow that allows us to listen to our own deep inner wisdom – and that is ultimately, a very feminine approach. When we are connected to our own wisdom – versus societal “shoulds” – we have access to a truly powerful and authentic, positive relationship with our body.
We invite you to give it a try!
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
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P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information packed video series – The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough – you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™ HERE.