Sarah Steffens is Natural Hormone Healing’s recipe developer and food photographer. Her primary work as a personal chef for her Hollywood clients as well as recipe developer for Whole 30 keeps her busy. This week she made time to speak to Madeline about diet culture and developing a positive relationship with food.
Watch the interview to get all the details or read on for the big take-aways!
If you struggle to have a positive working relationship with food, you’re not alone. Like many of us, Sarah Steffens has followed diets for many years. While trying to adhere to diets in order to be ‘healthy’, she developed a serious binge eating disorder.
Sarah would restrict what, when and how much she ate. Ultimately, she would reach her capacity for restriction, eat all of those things she had cut out and then grapple with regret. She would repeat this cycle for many years.
Sarah admits it didn’t matter if she attained the body she wanted, she continued to struggle on the inside. She was unable to break the restrict-binge cycle and she continued to search for a diet that would finally satisfy her needs. However, the harder she tried, the harder she fell.
Negative Diet Culture
The culture of dieting is deeply ingrained in us and has a heavy influence on our food choices. There’s an unspoken agreement among us that it’s healthy, beautiful and powerful to be thin.
Diet culture teaches us that rules around food will allow us to be thin. We are conditioned to believe we need to follow a program with rules to feel good about our bodies.
Problems With Food Rules
If you decide to be aware of food rules, you’ll see (and hear!) them everywhere. You’ll get hungry and you’ll hear rules about whether or not your allowed to be hungry. You’ll open the fridge and hear all the rules. You’ll go out with friends and the rules will come up. It’ll be overwhelming at first, and just be open to seeing them and hearing them.
Ultimately, the rules keep us from being honest with ourselves, they allow us to mentally check out when we eat. Diets promise us that as long as we follow the rules we’ll get results. And its when we trust the rules exclusively, you lose the trust in yourself.
Release The Rules
So how do you take care of your body but avoid diet culture? Sarah encourages you to release the rules you’ve heard about food. Instead, pay attention to the way food makes you and your body feel.
Sarah explains that you have a story about every single type of food there is. For example; I like this, this will make me thin or fat, I should eat only at this time, or I’ve had too much this week. Try to silence the chatter however you can in order to notice how the food actually makes you feel. Use these realizations, your intuition and sensation to guide your decisions about your eating habits.
Overcome Personal Fears
When Sarah realized diets didn’t work for her, she reflected on why she wanted to diet in the first place and why she feared being off a diet. She found that her biggest fear was being unable to control the shape of her body. Once she realized that dieting didn’t give her all the things that she thought it would, she was able to grieve and let go of the fantasy and come home to herself. Listen to the interview to hear how Sarah got rid of her rules.
How Diets Can Be Helpful
Sarah says to approach eating programs, like Eating For Your Cycle or Whole 30, with curiosity. Use the program as a framework to experiment and get more information about yourself and your body. From there, you decide how to use that information.
Address Disordered Eating First
If you struggle with disordered eating, we recommend that you work to heal your disorder before you focus on balancing hormones with food. This is because the eating disorder will have an effect on the way you approach a hormonal healing protocol and may do more harm than good.
Sarah reminds us that support and help on your health journey is very powerful. Sarah offers support and coaching with disordered eating, and you can direct message her on Instagram or contact her by email.
Contact Sarah Steffens