Values work can be a pivotal part of improving your relationship with food and body image. It can be so powerful to see how diet culture, restricting and rules around food, align (or often, don’t align) with your values. One of the most common goals of people stuck in diet culture is: to have the freedom and flexibility to make their own food choices – instead of it feeling like food rules or fears are controlling them. One way we can start to do this is to identify our own values and what our goals are beyond ‘ditching diet culture’.
Imagine your life without dieting
Ask yourself: What do you want to gain? What do you want your life or a day to look like without diet mentality?
What would a day look like for you? What would you think about when you wake up? How would that be different than what you think about when you wake up now? How would you make choices throughout the day – of what you wear, do, eat, say, think, spend time on, spend time with? How would you feel?
If your first thought in the morning wasn’t “I need to look at the scale” or “I can’t believe I ate that yesterday” or “I should eat ‘really good’ today” what would you be thinking about and putting your energy towards?
Many clients have shared that they have projects, goals, trips and things they love to do that have been put on hold because constantly thinking about food and the pressures of diet culture, has taken up so much of their mental and physical energy, and time. Ask yourself what some of those things might be for you?
What are your values?
So often when we start to do values work with clients, or get into some of these questions in their own intuitive eating and non-diet work, they realize that in some way, diet culture is keeping them from or not allowing them to live as in line with their values. Sometimes it’s from the mental energy and physical toll that dieting, restricting and thinking about food takes up – or, that it’s distracting from your studies, being present with friends or a partner, or being able to spend time doing the things you really love and are passionate about. Sometimes, it’s keeping you from being able to be flexible and enjoy experiences and times in their life that are really important to you. When you start thinking about our own values and can identify what’s important to YOU it helps to sift through the other messages and rules and influences that come up, and you’re able to circle back and say “Is this in line with MY values? Or diet culture’s?”
Identify Your Values
1. Select 4 values that stand out to you or seem important. These don’t need to be set in stone and might change as you reflect on them or at different times in your life.
2. Why are these important to you? How do they align with or show up in areas of your life?
3. When you think about your values, how do they relate to your relationship with food, your body, and eating.
How does dieting support (or not support) your values?
Ask yourself how your diet thoughts/behaviors line up with or support your values.
1. How has your history with dieting supported your values? How has your history with dieting not supported your values? What are some actions or behaviors around food, body, body image that you notice are aligned with your values & how, and what are ways that some behaviors might not be aligned & how.
2. When I think back to a time when I was in a smaller body or engaging in dieting behaviors, how was that supporting my values? How was it not supporting my values?
3. When self-critical talk or negative voices come up in my thoughts, how would my true self or values-aligned self with my values respond to this voice or thought?
It’s completely natural for dieting thoughts to come up as your work on moving away from diet culture and disordered behaviors, this work is not linear. Identifying your values and how they might differ from diet culture’s values can be a supportive way to put you back in driver’s seat by asking yourself: is this supporting my values? Or is it supporting diet culture’s values?
If you’re looking for more support in working on your relationship with food and body image through intuitive eating, book a discovery call to learn more about our 1:1 and group coaching options.