In the age of a widespead ‘diet culture’, nutrionist Antonia Magor calls for the death of fads, phases and trends and presents the practice of intuitive eating as a mindful alterantive.
Decade-to-decade, evolving notions of nutrition, health and the ideal body have dictated our relationships with food. For years, we have been told we should eat, when we should do it and the portion size that we should serve. Instinctive hunger is ignored and what lands on our plate is increasingly influenced by food fads and diet trends. From veganism to paleo and ketogenic, in 2018, statistics show that over two-thirds of British women are on a diet or believe that they should be.
Harley Street nutritionist, Antonia Magor believes that ‘diet culture’ is causing us to lose touch with our bodies. Instead, she emphasises the need to reconnect to the natural cues our body has for hunger, fullness and satiety. Known as intuitive eating, she presents a practice aimed at cultivating a sustainable and healthy approach to mind, body and food. Below, Magor lays out the simple steps towards this mindful alternative.
“The constant exposure to diet culture really negatively affects our relationship with food.”
We are constantly bombarded by different articles and information sources, so it’s difficult to stay out of diet culture. I don’t blame anyone for getting swept up by it as I think we all do to a certain point. But, the constant exposure to diet culture really negatively affects our relationship with food. Sadly, I don’t see many clients that don’t feel in some way emotionally judged around what they eat. Intuitive eating is very different from diet culture in that it has a lot of scientific backing, it’s a specific practice and technique and it’s about learning to reconnect with ourselves as individuals.
Taking back charge of our intuition is a process in itself. From an early age there so many emotions, feelings and language around food: you are given food as treats or taught that certain foods are for celebration. Intuitive eating is not just something where you can automatically jump to step seven and say ‘Oh, I’ve figured out I want this because of this…’. It’s requires taking time to follow a process of self-learning, to reject the diet mentality, honour your hunger and make peace with food.
“It is really important to allow yourself to listen to your body after you eat because that’s the only way it can communicate with us.”
One of the first steps for people wanting to change their eating habits is to ask themselves why they have chosen what it is that they are eating, but in a very gentle way. Take the time after a meal to ask ‘am I happy?’ and ‘Is this food making me feel well?’ When you start to feel symptoms of hunger, for example, tune in and ask yourself ‘Am I hungry because I’m bored? Am I hungry because I haven’t eaten in quite a long time? Am I hungry because didn’t have a satisfying breakfast?’ It is really important to allow yourself to listen to your body after you eat because that’s the only way it can communicate with us. The answers to these questions will help you to make future decisions about if and when you should eat, as well as what and how much.
“Making peace with your body and your relationship with food is a very complex issue especially because we are so bombarded at such a young age about what we are supposed to look like, do and feel.”
Making peace with your body and your relationship with food is a very complex issue especially because we are so bombarded at such a young age about what we are supposed to look like, do and feel. For many people, it’s about recognising that you are being harsh to yourself by saying ‘I was really bad because I ate a cookie’. When people say ‘I feel so guilty’ or ‘I’m having a cheat day’, for example, the negative language placed around food affects our relationship with it and how we feel about ourselves. We are already deciding whether something is good or bad before we have let ourselves experience those feelings. It’s also about doing really small practical things like unfollowing people that make you feel bad, challenging traditional notions of good and bad and allowing yourself a little bit more flexibility.
You can be eating the healthiest meal possible, but if it doesn’t satisfy you then you are not going to feel full and happy. It’s not about having everything steamed and this, that and the other. It’s about bringing in texture and taste and things that make you feel that you’ve got joy out of your meal. I think that is really important and if that means you have some chocolate afterwards then that is totally fine as well. Making sure you feel full and satisfied is more beneficial in the long run in terms of health and weight goals than it is in the short term to punish or restrict yourself. If you feel resentful for what is on your plate then you are not going to get the emotional or the health benefit of it.
Antonia Magor is a London based Nutritionist, she works with individuals on their specific conditions, health goals, or as part of their medical treatment. Focusing on health through diet and lifestyle, Antonia addresses the root causes of conditions and ill health through Nutritional Science. She has a great passion for food and the balance between scientific research and giving practical guidance.
Read more about the principles of intuitive eating here: Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Risch.
Photography courtesy of Antonia Magor.