Standing Your Ground

By Dana Sturtevant, MS RD

In recent weeks, I’ve been talking a lot to the people who seek our support about the idea of standing our ground, which comes from this Brené Brown quote:

“Don’t shrink back. Don’t puff up. Stand on your sacred ground.”

This concept is key when working to reclaim body trust and become an intuitive eater. Standing our ground is about protecting our boundaries and staying true to who we are and what is important to us, regardless of what others are doing and saying (and eating).

In the Intuitive Eating book, the authors talk about the difference between the diet rebel and the rebel ally. The diet rebel sounds like “Screw you, you’re not telling me what to eat” which usually leads to self-sabotage and backlash eating. The authors write, “rebellious behavior often has no limits, and severe overeating can be the result.” For some, this rebellious behavior happens publicly. For others, it creates a “false food front” where you eat a certain way when you are with people and another way when you are behind closed doors. (Eating two pieces of pizza when your food-policing partner is with you, and then eating more pizza when they go to bed.) Whether public or private, the motivation behind this kind of eating isn’t coming from a connected place and is especially harmful when done in secrecy, because secrecy is a birthplace of shame. Instead of understanding all the circumstances that may be contributing to your eating, shame leads you to believe it is simply because you are not good enough and everyone else is doing it better. Shame thrives when unspoken and is highly correlated with poor self-care. And this makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s hard to take care of yourself well when you are hiding out.

The rebel ally is a thought or voice that helps you protect your boundaries and stand your ground, so you can listen to your body and make decisions about food and eating from a more connected place. Let’s look at this more closely…

You are at a restaurant with your mom and she’s always on you about what you’re eating. When you check in with yourself to decide what you want to eat (intuitive eating), you notice that a Vietnamese chicken salad sounds good but you don’t want to give your mother the satisfaction of you ordering and eating that salad, so you order the fish and chips instead. Standing your ground would mean ordering what you want and if your mom makes a comment about it, you say something like “Mom, I ordered the salad because it is what I wanted, not because I’m trying to be good. Please don’t make comments about my food choices.”

You are at a restaurant with your girlfriends and you are super excited to try the burger you’ve heard so much about (and never allowed yourself to have). Everyone orders first and asks for lighter meals. You start to question yourself and order the salmon and veggies instead. Standing your ground would mean ordering what you want regardless of what others are doing, and not apologizing or making excuses for doing so (“I ran 10 miles yesterday”, for example).

The concept of unconditional permission to eat and enjoy food, guilt free, requires us to stand our ground. When you go out to eat with people, do you stand your ground and get what you want? Or do you shape shift and follow the rest of the pack?

Some people also have to deal with food pushers…

You are at a family gathering and your aunt is coming around offering seconds to everyone. You’ve enjoyed the meal and are feeling satisfied. Standing your ground means that when she gets to you, you say something like “The dinner is delicious but I’m quite full. Thank you.” Or “Please don’t push another portion on me. I’m full, thank you.”

And we can’t forget about the body police – people who think it is okay to make comments about other people’s bodies. Standing your ground means letting people know that these comments are not welcome, nor are they appropriate, ever. (And they typically don’t lead people to good self-care either!) Having a statement prepared for if, and when, it happens can be useful:

  • “Please don’t make comments about my body.”
  • “It is not okay to talk about other people’s bodies.”
  • “My body, my business.”
  • “You’re not allowed to say things about my body.”
  • “This is my body, and you’ve just crossed a boundary with me.”
  • “You know, when you say things to me about _____, it’s not helpful. It actually makes me want to…”

Protecting your boundaries and your process as an intuitive eater is part of good self-care. Standing your ground will help you listen to your body and enjoy the food you are eating without feeling shame about it. Where might you apply the concept of standing your ground in your everyday life?

“Being an intuitive eater sometimes means standing your ground #BodyTrust @BeNourished”

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Dana Sturtevant is a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and self-proclaimed foodie. She especially enjoys blogging about mindfulness, yoga, Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and the Slow Food Movement.






1 Comment

  1. Tanya on July 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    “It is not OK to talk about other peoples’ bodies.” I love this! Thank you!