As we get into the swing of the new year, you may have noticed more and more diet talk and diet culture swirling around you. You may have seen magazine covers about “how to lose weight,” or “how to cut out sugar this year.” Or, maybe you’ve heard your friends talking about their new gym regimen. These resolutions may seem harmless at first, but it’s important to step back and think “are these resolutions really fulfilling my needs?”
In the video above, Liz Richard, RD discusses the hierarchy of needs and how you can identify unmet needs and use intention setting to meet those needs. In other words, she walks us through how to set feasible goals in the recovery process. As Liz points out, it is important to set goals that ensure that we meet our most basic physiological and safety needs before making more complex goals. By identifying where are needs are not being fully met, we can begin to set goals and intentions moving forward.
What is the Hierarchy of Needs?
You may remember this concept from your "Intro to Psychology" class. If not, we’ll give you a quick run down! The idea behind the hierarchy is that needs on the lower end of the pyramid must be satisfied before tending to the needs higher up.
In other words, when your physiological needs are met, you are able to focus on meeting your safety needs. Once all of the needs on the bottom are met, you can begin to work on “self-actualization,” which could look like seeking personal growth or fulfillment.
How does Diet Culture Impact the Ability to Meet Needs?
As Liz points out, resolutions that aim to control food and exercise work against us as we aim to meet our basic needs. When we engage in restriction or over-exercise, it can be hard to meet our basic physical needs. Our bodies may be under-fueled and enter a low energy availability state.
How to Set Intentions to Address Unmet Needs
While resolutions tend to be geared toward a specific goal (think: weight loss or exercise), intentions are meant to help create a shift in mindset. Rather than focusing on just one goal, intentions provide an opportunity to incorporate behaviors that promote quality of life. In other words, they can help us zoom out and think about the big picture.
Below, we have compiled a few suggestions for how to set intentions this year to ensure that all of your basic needs are met.
1. Give your body what it needs
In order to fulfill the very bottom of the hierarchy, it is important to make sure that you are meeting your basic physical needs. This could mean working with your dietitian and your treatment team to assess what your energy needs are and ensure that you have the tools to meet them.
Instead of creating a resolution that aims to restrict food intake or avoid certain foods, try setting the intention to seek out foods that make you happy or that make you feel comforted.
2. Create a self-care routine
One way to further identify unmet needs is to complete the self-care assessment in the Intuitive Eating Workbook (a resource that we highly recommend!) This can help you identify areas where your needs are not quite being met.
For example, if you are not getting enough sleep, you may benefit from creating a sleep routine. Or, if you do not have a hobby you enjoy at the moment, you may set an intention to explore new activities this year. These are two examples of self care, though you can read more about it here.
3. Find a supportive community
Last but not least, it is important as humans to feel like we belong. This may mean setting an intention to make more plans with friends this year or to increase communication with your family. That feeling of belonging can not only increase happiness, but it can also help with accountability and intention setting.
If you are on a journey to finding food freedom, a support community can be a game-changer. As always, we suggest checking out the NourishRX PATH community as a way to receive support from others while you set goals and intentions for this year.
Now, we know that this is all easier said than done. Zooming out and identifying your unmet needs can be tough, especially if you are laser focused on a resolution or goal. Our team of dietitians are here to help facilitate that process and begin setting intentions.