Beyond The Scale: A Food Freedom Journey In 7 Steps

by | Mar 30, 2024

What Is Food Freedom?

Having freedom with food simply means that you are in sync and trusting your body not to lead you into despair, binge eating, and chaos with food. You allow yourself to eat what you want without guilt, and you feel in control and calm about it. Things are chill. Things are balanced.

From where you are now, having this type of freedom with food might seem impossible. You probably think if you had full freedom to eat what you want, you’d make horrible choices. Cake and french fries. Baguettes after baguettes. Well, friend, I’m here to explain how this works. If you want true peace with food and to feel better about your body, read on. I’m explaining exactly what I do to lead my clients on a food freedom journey.

Why You Don’t Feel Free With Food

I’m sorry to break it to you, but this isn’t always easy. You do have to dig deep and understand what’s going on. It’s not easy or simple, but it can feel clear. Get to the root of it, it’s worth it.

You’re trying to outsmart your body

Our bodies are wired for survival. No matter how much we might think that we “should” be able to survive on 1200 calories a day, we cannot – not happily at least. Eating way less than your body wants to will keep you stuck in scarcity mode, fretting about every food decision. 

Once you figure out the right amount of food for your body and learn to eat it in “normal” ways, spread out throughout the day and the week, you’ll quickly see your eating patterns normalize and calm down. Eating enough will feel fantastic.

Your brain believes you are a “good girl/boy/person” if you eat a certain way

You need to untangle your belief system about what “healthy eating” means about your character. Do you think someone who eats more veggies, “plant-based”, organic, or whatever, cares more about their health? Does that mean they are more deserving? How did you come to believe these things?

Often these intrusive thoughts cause self-sabotaging behaviors and self-judgement. This can make you feel like there is no point in doing anything healthy because the bar can be so high. 

One of the core parts of learning to be an intuitive eater on a food freedom journey is listening to your body INSTEAD of all of those outside influences. You’ll learn to use gentle nutrition, not the food police, to guide healthy eating. The blame, shame, and diet culture nonsense have got to go.  

You are rebelling against your past 

One common and super, duper influential cause of folks feeling “un-free” with food is a dieting or weight shame history. The more diets you’ve been on, the more ingrained the scarcity mindset gets, the more you REACT instead of DECIDE what to do with food.

Our society paints weight loss plans, cleanses, and other rigid ways of eating as the “cure” for overeating, emotional eating, and other types of dysfunctional eating habits. But the thing is – diets don’t work and lead to weight gain and disordered eating.

Diets just keep you stuck distrusting yourself and in a cycle of yo-yo dieting. A food freedom journey will help you stop dieting. You will start to feel released from your food rebellion. The fight ends. Your body will start to trust you that you won’t be starving it again. Your brain and nervous system will feel this too, and you’ll eventually be in a new state of being. Nothing to rebel against, so might as well do what feels good. (and what feels good will change!)  

You are binging on your “fear foods”

If you’re currently binge eating, emotionally eating, or overeating foods that you feel horrible about, this is for a reason. Not because you have no willpower, that you’re broken, or just don’t know how to eat. 

Many folks with a dieting history end up binge eating foods they’ve labeled as “bad”. And so it makes sense why the idea of letting yourself eat these foods with abandon sounds nuts to you. You want me to do what? 

But if you take the time to go through the steps of intuitive eating, and learn to trust yourself, this binging will stop. I guarantee it. In my 6-month intuitive eating support group and coaching program, The Love Food Again Program, we do this systematically. You’ll learn when is the right time to let yourself eat these foods. It’s not all at once is different for everyone. 

So how do you do this? I’m about to tell you exactly what I do in my food freedom program, Love Food Again, I walk you through each step in this process so you can transform your relationship with food and your body.

There is a lot of pressure in our society for women to look and act a certain way. We’ll be unpacking that too. Follow these steps and you’ll find that sweet peace you desire.

How To Follow A Food Freedom Journey

If you want to make peace with food and feel better about your body, I’d love to help guide the way. My intuitive eating and food freedom program, The Love Food Again Program, will walk you through the following 7 steps.

Dig into the deeper reasons you want to lose weight (or never gain a pound no matter what)

Uncovering how body image distress affects you, what your motivations are for wanting to find food freedom, and what is blocking you, are your golden tickets to success. You need to explore your past with body image, food, exercise, and the ways you’ve been taught to think about these things. 

There is a deep desire inside you to feel better about yourself and stop constantly worrying about every bite of food. You want these for a damn good reason. You are an interesting person (I’m guessing) with a whole lot of wonderful things to do and think and say. Thinking about food all the time is not what you want to be doing. 

Learn to feel comfortable in your body, even if it doesn’t look quite like you want it to. 

If you have a health condition, maybe PCOS, fertility issues, or your period is out of whack, you can figure out how to eat in the best way for your body. Explore how to take the urgency off of “fixing” your body and place your attention on taking care of it. Another quick weight loss plan is not what you need. A food freedom journey, however, could help so much.

Reset your thoughts about food

If you are constantly obsessing about food, worrying about each food choice you make, you need a mindset overhaul. Many faulty food and nutrition beliefs could be stuck in your brain. 

Thoughts > beliefs > feelings > behaviors

Make sure you’re not listening to uninformed influencers for your nutrition advice. You need to get true information about food and then take action to practice doing and thinking differently so these thought patterns can stick. You need proof that these new thoughts feel good to you.  You need to see yourself making choices you feel good about. 

Work toward food neutrality. There are no “good” and “bad” foods, but all foods are morally equivalent. There may be a different time, day, and place for a bowl of yogurt and blueberries vs a burger and fries, but that doesn’t make either of them better or worse – just different.

Once you keep practicing these reframes, you’ll stop constantly worrying that you’re making a bad choice. You’ll learn to see that you usually make food and exercise choices you’re happy about, and that if once in a while something happens with food that you don’t like, you can work on that! It doesn’t mean you’ve made a fatal error. 

Learn to listen to your body (and respond to it)

The opposite of listening to food rules and perfect eating diatribe is listening inward to what your body tells you. Often folks who have been yo-yo dieting or restricting their food for 20 years have no idea what their body is telling them. Your body could be screaming at you and you’re unlikely to hear it. 

In the Love Food Again Program or any path toward food freedom, you gotta get in touch with your body’s cues. Learn how your body communicates with you. If you are not hearing your hunger cues, you need to learn how to get your gentle hunger cues back. Learn to find real satisfaction after eating and ask yourself how you want to feel. As you continue to practice this along with the other steps on this journey, you’ll eventually lean on these cues to guide you and be much less pulled by a donut shop on a whim. 

Reconnecting with your body is a beautiful process, especially if you do it with a guide who can help you interpret the new information you’re getting. 

an infographic titled "The 7 Steps To True Food Freedom". The 7 Steps from the article are summarized.

Tackle emotional eating

Emotional eating is a complex topic and is often misunderstood. To get a grasp of your emotional eating, you first need to understand it. You want to figure out what is triggering you to reach for food to cope. 

Is it your exhaustion from trying to lose weight and it not working? This is quite common and is wildly frustrating. All you want is to lose weight and feel good about your body, but all you keep doing is soothing your feelings with more food. It’s quite a cycle. It feels like self-sabotage.

There is also true emotional eating, where you’re reaching for food to soothe, comfort, distract, or numb you from difficult emotions. We will also explore this. You need new tools for coping with your uncomfortable feelings, other than food. It’s very important not to do this step in a diet mindset or you’ll end up back at the start. 

Learn the underlying cultural reasons why this happens to women (this step is more important than you might think) 

This step is what makes The Love Food Again Program so unique. It’s not just another intuitive eating program, it involves exploring in the presence of other women why we are stuck in perfectionism, people-pleasing, and objectification. 

The roots of our obsession with thinness are complex, rooted in patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Exploring these things, and really looking at what your underlying beliefs are around food, health, and bodies will shake things loose for you. 

While exploring these topics, it’s essential to remember that none of this is your fault. You were born into a system that places some bodies as better than others. This keeps us all stuck in fear that we’ll move down the ladder, instead of up. We spend a whole module on this inside The Love Food Again Program, and is the reason so many women find themselves again through it. 

Find your voice (learn to say no to more food)

Building boundaries with food, the people in your life, and yourself is another deep benefit of finding TRUE food freedom. Just going on the hunger-fullness diet, or trying intuitive eating just to lose weight is unlikely to help you find this place for long. 

You need to start by learning what ways you’ve been ignoring or turning away from yourself. Explore what your inner voice is telling you and state your needs boldly. This can feel extremely complex for some women, especially those who were taught that good girls don’t have any needs. You have needs and it’s time to state them. 

Learning to state your needs will also help you build boundaries with food and exercise. You don’t want to deny yourself when you want a cookie, but you also want to listen to yourself when you need a workout. 

Learn what nutrition principles are helpful for you

Woven into the program at many stages, you’ll learn from a nutrition expert (ah, me) what healthy eating really means. You’ll learn how to debunk fad diets that are based in total nonsense and find out how each piece of food guidance needs to be integrated into your life so you can feel free, but good, with the food you eat. 

Nutrition does matter, but it does not need to be used as punishment or reward. 

The Love Food Again Program: A Food Freedom & Liberation Journey

This 6-month intuitive eating support group and coaching program is the best out there. You’ll have a HAES-aligned registered dietitian committed to inclusion leading you in group nutrition counseling. You’ll learn the whole intuitive eating framework and have lots of exercises for each step. You’ll meet twice a month with a small group of badass women who are committed to supporting each other on this journey. 

You’ll feel so informed, so supported, and that the lessons are set up in the just the right way you to to build them into your life. You’ll stop binging, stop obsessing about food, and take actionable steps to figure out what to actually eat.

A 6-week program, sorry to say, is not going to do the trick. I’m not in the business of making you come back for more. I built this program to be this length because this is what most people need.

Uncover your hidden body image struggles, learn your faulty thought patterns, and find practical ways to use self-compassion to support yourself on your journey to food freedom. And do it all while building connections based on growth, community, and liberation instead of comparison, competition, and scarcity.

Come join us. Enrollment is open now. Join today!

About Emily

Emily Van Eck, MS, RDN specializes in Intuitive Eating, eating disorders, body image, women’s reproductive health, and healing from years of weight-bias and disordered eating. She helps people find balance, consistency, and peace with their eating habits so they can feel confident to get outta their heads and into their bodies. Emily is a registered dietitian and certified Intuitive Eating counselor with a master’s degree in nutrition science. Read more about her practice, values, and experience here.

Emily Van Eck on couch with cereal bowl

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Hey there, I´m Emily

A non-diet and weight-inclusive dietitian, intuitive eating coach, and body image healer. Here on the blog, I focuses on exploring intuitive eating, gentle nutrition, the complex arena of body image and feminism, anti-oppression, and all the ways these things intersect. I want us all to be free to own our appetites, and our desires, and eat really, really well. 

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