Intuitive Eating: How The Most Iconic Women Eat Well & Look Fabulous
Saying 'no' to food shaming and 'yes' to body acceptance
I'm the only person in my office who isn't on a diet. From underhanded comments intended to shame me about how I "never say no to food", to constant awe at how I seem to eat carbs all the time and stay so slim, it seems everyone is hyper-aware about not only what they are eating but apparently what's on everyone else's plate too! I thought maybe it was just one of those stereotypes of working in a fashion office, playing itself out in reality but after confiding with other women outside of the fashion world, it seems to be more widespread than I thought.
So where does this obsessive need to start dieting come from? I've watched people who once seemed comfortable with their bodies, swap their pasta dishes for salads and contemplate over a packet of crisps like it was life or death, all because of comments made by other people. None of these people are actually overweight (quite the opposite) and most seem to be majorly under-eating but somehow food shamers still find a way to make you feel like the weird one for eating 3 meals a day and the occasional snack. Nowadays it seems being on a diet is an easy way to gain points within particular social circles. It's kind of like that scene in Mean Girls where they all take turns pointing out their 'flaws' in some strange attempt at solidarity. If you're not insecure about your weight it makes people uncomfortable, almost as if you're saying you think you're better than everyone who is.
Frustrated and starting to second guess myself, I stumbled across an old book given to me by my mother as a teenager: How To Be Adored by Caroline Cox. It was all about Old Hollywood starlets and how the most iconic women exuded charm and glamour both inside and out. There's a chapter in there about how women like Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn ate and maintained their figures. This quote in particular stood out to me:
"Women are obsessed by extra weight and many of them have made their lives very difficult by starving themselves into nervous weak creatures who are chronically depressed because they believe themselves to be a few pounds overweight...I have known women who have wasted years of their lives by believing they are too fat to be glamorous. They dread shopping for clothes, they hate to dress up for an occasion, they complain about the smallest bulge on the waistline or thigh as if it were a failure of the greatest magnitude..." Sophia Loren, Women & Beauty, 1984
Sophia Loren advocated for eating more pasta while Audrey Hepburn cited preferring simple meals that are "exquisitely done", from a "perfectly cooked steak" to a "beautiful salad" (What Would Audrey Do?: Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace & Style, Pamela Keogh, 2008). Not a thing about restricting carbs, cutting out meat or counting calories! One thing became abundantly clear to me, the most iconic women were big fans of intuitive eating. They ate all the food groups in moderation and indulged when they felt like it and looked completely fabulous doing it.
So in a world of restrictive diets and unrealistic body ideals, I've decided to take comfort in the fact that the OGs of glamour didn't count calories so I don't have to either (and neither do you)! I looked further into intuitive eating and discovered 10 main principles:
This way of eating promotes a more natural lifestyle, focusing on the way food makes you feel, honouring yourself and truly respecting your body rather than punishing it. It allows you to take ownership of the way you nourish yourself rather than following the strict rules of a fad diet somebody posted on the internet. Instead of asking yourself 'what should I eat', you start asking 'what do I want to eat' and soon notice how much more in control you feel!
I personally do this whenever I'm getting ready to prepare a meal. I take great pleasure in finding new recipes on Pinterest and trying them out for myself - follow my Foodie Files board for mouth-watering recipe inspo! Not only is being able to make a home-cooked meal from scratch a skill I believe every woman in her 20s should master, it also means you'll naturally eat better as you're fully in control of what ingredients go into your food. Despite the fact that I've definitely put on some weight in the past year, I feel more in tune with my body than I ever did when I was younger and 'thinner'. Life is short and our bodies are temporary, so eat well and look fabulous! It's good for the soul.