Full confession, I get sucked into a book by its title.
Fuller confession, I have stacks of books that I have purchased for the title and never finished.
Fullest confession, I haven’t finished this one either.
So why write about it?
Because this concept of eating without apology comes up often, both in the safety of my office and in my personal life.
Here’s a personal example – It was a late winter weekend during the pandemic where a lifelong special person and I planned a short getaway. We had a lot to catch up on because the last time I saw her was at my mom’s funeral a year before, then the pandemic hit, among other things. We hopped in the car for the 2-hour drive, easing into conversation that was typical for us, some laughter, some tears, and always ‘real’.
My routine on this drive is to stop at a coffee shop in Sedalia, and during the winter to get a peppermint mocha, half the pumps. (Apology? Keep reading).
Ahh, the anticipation (dopamine in action) of sipping on this warm and slightly sweet drink and connecting through conversation. I can’t think of anything better!
With a raised eyebrow, she said something like, “Really? You’re a nutritionist.”
Back in the day, I would have swirled into shame. It would have gone something like this, “I’m not a skinny nutritionist and she’s right, people who are not skinny (especially nutritionists) should stay away from coffee drinks like this, or if you must get something that crazy, then at least tone it down with skinny milk and skinny sugar substitutes. But at least I’m getting half the pumps, right?”.
Thankfully today I’m aware of something called “differentiation” which allows me to practice unapologetic eating. This means noticing the feelings that come up when someone challenges my choices and being able to be true-to-self while remaining deeply connected even though we are different.
Differentiation was studied by Dr. Murray Bowen and is an ability to be at peace with one’s own self. The opposite is Fusion, where I lived most of my life. Fusion is the tribal, primal part of the brain where we need to be liked. We do whatever it takes to be like everyone around us, and/or try to make everyone around us be like us to feel connected.
Fusion would have anticipated the judgment and would have driven past the coffee shop, feeling sad that the pleasure of that warm and slightly sweet treat was off-limits for me. Differentiation allowed me to say “Yes, really. As a nutritionist or not, this drink is so amazing right now”.
As for the half-pumps in my mocha order, wouldn’t ‘unapologetic eating’ mean ordering straight off the menu with full number of syrup pumps, knowing that sugar content is nothing to apologize for? Thankfully, that ‘special order’ comes from my Intuitive Eater. The standard recipe is simply too sweet for my taste buds, and with practice, my taste buds taught me that half the sweetness is just right.
If you would like my Weekly Intuitive Eating Bites, subscribe here.