Abandoning Diet Culture | Wellness
With the new year, it’s estimated that almost 70 percent of Americans will make New Year resolutions, with one of the most common resolutions relating to health and fitness.
We’ve long been fed the idea that in order to be healthy, we have to look a certain way, eat certain foods, or consume a certain number of calories, spending all of our precious free time making gains at the gym. Basically, that there’s only one way to live a healthy life. When we fail to meet this ideal of health, we’re punished for it — mostly by ourselves.
Real health looks different for everyone. Shanique Allen, a nutrition and habits coach, preaches this to her clients at Shanique Allen Coaching every day. She is based in Everett, but serves clients all over the Northwest.
As a former athlete, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and corporate wellness consultant, Allen has taken her more than 12 years of hands-on experience and shifted it to helping others form sustainable habits and break free from diet culture thinking.
“I help people reframe the way they see (health) from their own life experience, their own capacities, and their own joy, because that factors a lot into pursuing your health goals or moving along a health journey,” Allen said. “It’s going to look different for everybody.”
One of the ways she helps clients reframe their ideas of health is by helping them identify the beliefs that they have around health, nutrition, and fitness. For example, many think they need to lose weight in order to be healthy. From there, she helps them figure out why they believe that (especially if it’s not serving them) and supports them in honing their habits.
Forming healthy habits requires self-awareness, Allen said. Being self-aware allows people to recognize what is going on with them, and what they need emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Allen also helps clients learn to honor their hunger and correct their diet behaviors (like food restriction and excessive exercising).
“I want my clients to look at eating as a form of self-care. Mindfulness around eating, mindfulness around fitness, and even mindfulness around your language is (key) … I don’t subscribe to the old narrative of ‘No gain, no pain,’ or ‘You can rest when you’re dead.’ That’s bull****,” she said.
And habits should be flexible. As life evolves, habits should as well.
“Health looks different for everybody. And we all know the basics to a healthy life. We know what a healthy meal looks like; we know it’s important to exercise, drink water, etc. I don’t need to teach that. People need to understand the power of their own experience and knowledge to pursue a healthy life that works for them,” she said.