Ep. #111: Steer Clear of the Wellness Diet with Lauren Redwine

Ep. #111: Steer Clear of the Wellness Diet with Lauren Redwine

Lauren Redwine is an anti-diet coach who helps health conscious entrepreneurs heal their relationship with food. (Our interview is for anyone who wants to heal their food relationship; not just entrepreneurs!) Lauren shares how to look out for the “wellness diet” that can sneak up on us so fast. Even when we have good intentions, we can inadvertently turn “being healthy” into another form of dieting. If you’re ready to relax around food this holiday season and create more joyful new year resolutions, this is a great episode for you!

I have a special Food Freedom Holiday Workshop that’s available on demand now! If you need some help having fun and enjoying the holidays, I’d encourage you to check it out. Learn how to take care of yourself, stop stressing about what other people might be thinking, and create an amazing holiday. No wellness diet needed!

An Industry Fueling Perfectionism

Ultimately, Lauren works with wellness entrepreneurs who want to heal their relationship with food and their bodies. She finds this particular industry holds a lot of perfectionism, and there are constantly messages being sent about what’s “good”, what’s “bad”, and what you can and can’t do. The pressure to look perfect, play a role, and run a business can really feed into distorted body image and food relationships. This is something Lauren knows from first hand experience, as it’s where she got her own start in business.

As an adult, Lauren realized she’s dealt with emotional eating since she was a child. During her higher education, however, she realized just how disordered her body image and eating were. For so long, the wellness rhetoric had made her believe that something was wrong with her….instead of being wrong with the industry.

When she stepped away from wellness as a field, she realized she didn’t deal with binging and restricting nearly as much. But when she came back into the industry after a few years away…..she started having problems again. The big question on her mind?

How come every time she got involved in the “health and wellness” space….she started to have so many more body image and eating problems? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Always Obsessed

Lauren realized that her own wellbeing decreased when she was knee deep in the wellness industry. Her final straw was an elimination diet she wen through, after which she hit her breaking point with business-as-usual. She knew there had to be something different out there.

As soon as she found intuitive eating and the health at every size movement (HAES), it clicked with her. All the focus on her appearance and body hadn’t served her at all; in fact, it had been making things worse. And all those wellness diets hadn’t been working either!

Now, Lauren is able to listen to her body. She eats foods that she loves, and trusts herself to know what will be best.

I noted that many women will say that they DON’T diet….they just like to “eat healthy”. They make all of their choices based on wellness diets and “rules” about what it means to be a healthy person. Lauren shares this is often connected to a lot of fear mongering that goes on in the industry.

There is so much pressure to be in a certain school of thought: vegan, Paleo, Keto, Whole 30. This list goes on and on, and most people in the wellness space are very aware of what “camp” they are in, and what rules apply. Even though wellness is supposed to be holistic (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual health), what we tend to see most of the time is very focused on body image and weight loss. It promotes the message that weight is everything: that weight = health.

The Trap of the Wellness Diet

Even if no one would actually say that weight is the paramount factor in health, it very much is the message being sent. “Clean” diets and wellness diets are also still very focused on weight loss and body image as well.

Within the industry, Lauren notes there is often a lot of pressure to get aligned with some sort of wellness diet. There is an attitude that if *have* to be low carb, or vegan, or {today’s trend} in order to be doing it right. And if you aren’t doing it right, you’re doing it wrong.

In addition, there is very much an “image” that goes with the wellness field. Thin women with the income for daily pilates, personal chefs, constant supplies of fresh green juice: there are so many ways in which the picture being painted isn’t accessible or realistic for the average person!

People find themselves not knowing what to eat, or how to eat. They also feel guilty about everything they are doing wrong. There is so much pressure to get it right, and it’s stressful and confusing to know what to do.

Lauren reminds us that are so many ways we can move for free; we don’t need special outfits and expensive memberships to enjoy moving our bodies! We can also make an effort to follow more diverse voices and bodies within the wellness space. There are so many different ways to *do* wellness, and we have the ability to choose what we want to prioritize and focus on. Wellness diets and body image don’t have to be centered in our narrative!

Give Yourself a Break

This is collective hard time. This is the time to focus on mental and emotional health first. There’s no need to pressure yourself into losing weight during quarantine, or coming out of this slimmer or fitter.

Wellness is holistic. It encompasses your entire life, and it is not about what you weigh.

At my last prenatal appointment I asked my doctor about postnatal mental health practitioners in my areas. Why? Because we may not have child care, we’re working from home, family may not be able to visit….and I’m not worried about getting back to yoga and fitting into my pre-pregnancy pants! For me, I know the most important form of wellness I’m going to need to protect is my mental health. For that reason, I’m being proactive about that! (And when yoga feels good again, and I’ll fit that in too.)

It’s all about listening to your own body and needs.

Be Present and Enjoy It

Lauren notes that the holiday season can bring up a lot of stress and anxiety around eating and food. She also shares she’s been in that place where she was so worried about what would be served that she brought ingredients and made her own food, rather than eating the holiday meal that was prepared.

That involved so much extra stress and worry. In retrospect, it would have been so much better to just eat was there and enjoy being present. Worrying about every bite you’re going to eat, or ways in which to avoid eating “bad” food, robs so much joy from your life. It also makes you feel deprived and even ostracized. Your attention span and willpower are so engaged with what you “can” eat (and what you “can’t” eat) that you don’t get to be fully there with the people you love.

It’s okay to just go. Have fun. Engage with who is present, and eat what your body will enjoy.

Ringing In the New Year (No Wellness Diet Needed!)

If you’re moving away from diets and the dieting mentally, January doesn’t have to mean you’re focusing on some new wellness diet or way of eating. What a beautiful time to focus on a goal that will be more nourishing and exciting for your overall wellness!

Lauren suggests choosing a resolution that is nourishing and additive, rather than restrictive and based on deprivation. (What you WILL do, instead of what you WON’T do!) This is also great because it’s easier to add something new to your life than to remove something. It’s also more fun!

There are so many things in our days (and lives) that we already don’t want to do. (Here’s looking at you, dishes!) Why not let your goals be a source of joy and inspiration this year? Pursuing your dreams, engaging with your favorite hobbies, or trying new things are such worthwhile endeavors. Give it a try! (And if you do, I’d love to hear about it! Tag me in a social post or send me a DM and tell me all about it.)

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