Relief. The non-diet message was a message of relief for me. I remember sitting in my nutrition class in college when I first heard the non-diet message. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel completely obsessive over my body. I heard that no matter what the BMI chart read or years of concern-laden comments, my body was totally okay and I was a relatively healthy college student.
Growing up with type 1 diabetes meant there was always worry. Worry over my blood sugars, worry over food, worry over activity. Worry. Can I blame my concerned family? Of course not! Knowing my health was always a top priority to my family, led me to examine my body more closely as I started to gain weight in my teenage years due to a thyroid diagnosis. I was always very nervous at family functions and school, wondering if people were noticing my increase in weight. There came a time when it was obvious that people were noticing.
I carry some haunting phrases with me; comments that were made to me as a teenager regarding food and body. I can remember hearing, “You’d better stop eating those or you’ll be as big as a house!” whenever I tried to indulge on my favorite Cheeto snack (which of course led me to binge eat later and finish the whole bag!). I remember being asked if I wanted to go on a diet and “maybe see a dietitian” when I was in college getting my degree to become one myself! And the most recent comment hit deep: “Attractive guys just don’t pick up on fat girls.”
I would be lying if I said part of me (and most nutrition professionals) didn’t choose to major in nutrition and dietetics with some hope of receiving information to help me permanently lose weight. I desperately wanted my family’s approval over my body. I didn’t get weight loss advice in my dietetics program. Instead, I got something even better – the gift of acceptance. It came in the form of a heaping dose of scientific research that spelled out that diets don’t work and that health isn’t dependent on a dress size.
After hearing the non-diet message in college I felt like quite the rebel. I started to defend my body and depend on my body. Based on scientific research and hundreds of studies, I was discovering for the first time that my body was okay. I didn’t even know Jesus at the time, but I knew deep down inside that my body-hate wasn’t the answer. I was “all in” for a non-diet approach from day one, and pretty much haven’t looked back since.
God has uniquely, and purposefully, woven His beauty into every women who has ever walked or will walk this earth. Women were specifically created, among other things, to reflect the beauty of God. Women are also the most oppressed gender worldwide. At staggeringly high rates, women are the victims of domestic violence, rape, sex-trafficking, non-consensual underage marriages, just to name a few.
It only makes sense that the enemy would seek to destroy the mysterious, jaw-dropping, Creator-made competition, which is us – the beautiful daughters of the one true King.
Quite literally, the enemy cannot stand the power in our beauty; beauty as an asset of God, given to us in His image. Do you see where I’m going with this? In short, we are pressured to hate ourselves from day one. It is hard-wired in our culture and society that women need to be thin, we need to be altered, we need to be compared, and we need to constantly strive for perfection that we will never find here on earth.
If I can be totally honest, body acceptance and love is still really hard for me. Not a day goes by that the world doesn’t try to remind me I’m not enough; I’m not stylish enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not fearless enough, I’m not quiet enough, and I’m surely not thin enough.
I’ve come to realize that body acceptance and love is not a destination, it’s a journey, similar to faith. I have adopted a few practices to help me along this journey such as standing backwards on the scale at my doctor’s office (as a personal choice, but one day I feel I’ll refuse altogether to be weighed), ridding myself of a scale at home, and every once in a while having a good cry session in front of the mirror reminding myself just how beautiful I am and how much I am loved.
In my few years as a new Christian, I know this to be true: God is concerned about the condition of my heart, not the appearance of my body. Sure, God knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7). But do you think He’s concerned about that number? Of course not. He is the Creator. He is flawless, and He made no mistakes when He made you and me. Every part of us that we may loathe, nit-pick, or grumble at, He designed purposely for His glory in His image.
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Natalie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works as an inpatient dietitian focusing in critical care nutrition. She received her bachelors degree at California State University, Chico and hopes to pursue a Masters degree in the future. Natalie is a new resident to beautiful Southern Oregon and in her free time enjoys hiking, camping, archery, and reading. She is excited about where God is taking her and to fulfill the duty of furthering the Kingdom of Heaven on earth by the way of body acceptance and love