I have a hard time making healthier choices without feeling like I'm caving to the pressure to weight-loss diet. I have a hard time turning down foods that taste exciting but don't do great things for my body without feeling the old ED voices coming up to haunt me, triggered by the slightest hint of restriction. So I've spent a lot of time living in a land of overindulgence, choosing the milkshake, the chips, the full-octane everything, resisting anything that reminded me of ways I was instructed to eat in order to lose weight. Unfortunately, that meant cutting out a lot of practices and foods that would probably help me feel better, have more energy, better digestion, etc. The diet voice was still in charge; I was reacting against it rather than living under its restrictive thumb, but it was still running the show.
I was starting to worry that "eat food, stuff you like, as much as you want" wasn't for people like me. That I was deluding myself that HAES applies to someone as far out on the 'fat' end of the bell curve as I am. But luckily for me, I have a whole heap of awesome people in my life who are generous with their time and willing to talk me off the cliff.
Talking with them, I was reminded that The Fat Nutritionist is talking to me, that HAES does apply... but when your (my) relationship with food is so broken, you may have to take some time and energy to break down what "stuff you like" and "as much as you want" really mean. (Spoiler alert: they do not mean "mostly stuff you were deprived of as a restrictive eater/dieter/child whose eating was controlled by others" and "as much as it takes to make you so full it hurts but at least you're not scared of ever being hungry again.") Edit: Oh, wait. Michelle totally calls that out here. Oh well... I got there eventually.
I was reminded to dust off my toolkit and pull out tools I have forgotten to use for a while (such as the fabulous Deb Burgard's "Every Body Part Gets a Vote"). I was reminded that it's OK to make choices that are conventionally deemed "healthy" and that making said choices doesn't make me a tool of the Dieting Industrial Complex. Yup, even if choices that may make my body healthier resemble choices one might make under the tutelage of a mother who wants desperately to protect her child from a life of fatness.
I was reminded it's OK to have full-fat dressing when I want it, but that it's also OK to dig deep and realize what I really want is a light sprinkle of oil and vinegar (hey, it could happen!) AND, more importantly, it's OK to have a salad because it tastes great and is full of yummy veggies and fiber, and go ahead and have cheese and eggs on it too because I'm NOT trying to eat low-cal or low-fat per se, just trying to have a nicer life and that means fueling my body well.