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Eating for Fuel: My Journey Beyond Diet Culture and Competitive Sports

In a world influenced by diet culture and competitive sports, my relationship with food has been a journey filled with insights, struggles, and a relentless quest for understanding. Born out of a necessity to perform and in an environment that often demanded certain eating habits, I've spent years redefining what eating truly means and how to nourish my body in a way that sustains and strengthens, rather than diminishes and depletes.

Unlearning Diet Culture: A Radical Break from Toxic Norms

Smashing my scale was like a rebellious act against an ingrained narrative that had become a part of my very identity. It wasn't just about the action itself, but the symbolic liberation from a system that measured worth and well-being solely by numbers. For the longest time, diet culture had dictated my relationship with food, turning it into a daily battleground of wins and losses. As an athlete, the pressure to adhere to strict eating routines was unrelenting, with "cheat days" and "carb loading" becoming the norm.

I vividly remember a ski competition where my team spent a day indulging in pasta, preparing for the slalom event the next day. At the time, the rationale seemed hazy, possibly just a customary practice. However, I would later come to realize that nutrition is about more than just calories and timing; it's about finding balance and understanding.

For me, breaking free from the clutches of diet culture meant reassessing my worth and well-being beyond the confines of restrictive eating patterns. It required a complete re-education about food—its impact on us goes far beyond what is visible or measurable on a scale.

Embracing Nourishment Over Numbers: Nutrition in Menopause and Beyond

My relationship with food took a significant turn when I hit menopause—a phase that required a fundamental shift in how I nourished and cared for my body. I set out on a journey to understand the science behind eating more, especially in the context of sports. Conversations with dietitians and experienced athletes taught me that fuel is not the enemy; it's the ally that drives us toward our goals.

But it wasn't until I attended Abby Chan's session at Evolve Flagstaff that everything really started to click. Abby's approach to nutrition and its impact on athletic performance was eye-opening. She debunked the idea of dieting and emphasized the importance of consuming enough to support our body's activities. It was a game-changer. It made me realize that good eating goes beyond indulgence; it's about honoring our body's need for energy, endurance, and recovery.

The Science of Eating More: A Tale of Transformation

Breaking down the myths that shaped my eating habits, I began to view food as a powerful tool for transformation. It wasn't just about controlling portions or counting calories anymore; it was about nourishing my body to feel great, perform at my best, and live my best life.

The idea of intuitive eating started to click, and through conversations with health professionals, I learned that it's not just about what I eat but how I eat—mindfully, fully, and with the ultimate goal of fostering a healthy relationship with food.

Mindful Eating and Movement: A Dynamic Duo

As I delved deeper into the world of weightlifting, I realized the strong connection between my diet and my strength. What I fuel my body with directly impacts my lifting numbers, stamina, and recovery. Mindful eating has become an integral part of my training routine. Now, I honor my hunger, respect my fullness, and truly connect with how food makes me feel during and after practice.

Gone are the days of mindless consumption and deprivation. I have wholeheartedly embraced a lifestyle where every bite becomes a deliberate choice. Each meal presents an opportunity to nourish my body and unlock my true potential. Every single bite matters and contributes to my overall well-being.

Conclusion: An Ongoing Journey of Understanding

Looking back on my transformation, I realize that my adventure with food is far from over. Each day brings new opportunities to learn, nourish, and elevate. I've come to understand that eating is deeply personal, reflective, and powerful. It's not just about what you eat; it's about how you eat, why you eat, and who you are when you eat.

For those facing challenges with their own relationship with food, remember that the journey is uniquely yours. It's about discovery and connection—connecting with your body's needs and the energy that resides within each meal, like a beautiful lotus flower.

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