Intuitive Eating: Making peace with food

Diets don't work. Reconnecting to your natural innate hunger and fullness, deconstructing diet mentality, and establishing ways of enjoying food and movement are what helps you reclaim your life.

Two nutritionists developed Intuitive Eating after recognizing that focusing on weight loss was not helping people maintain their weight or a different way of eating.  They recognized that diets do not work.  

Reconnecting to your natural innate hunger and fullness, deconstructing diet mentality, and establishing ways of enjoying food and movement are what helps you reclaim your life.  

Here are some insights on the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.  Don’t get overwhelmed – I can work with you to get you started and support you along the way.

1. Reject Diet Mentality

Messages about weight loss and dieting are pervasive in our culture.  Learn to recognize them and discard them as the marketing lies they are.  Reject the notion that one more diet might work.  You are not the failure – the diets failed you.  

2. Honor Your Hunger

What does hunger feel like for you?  How does your body communicate when it needs more fuel?  Tuning into these messages may be new and confusing at first. Most of us become disconnected from them as children due to food rules, schedules, and other outside influences that dictate when we “should” eat and how much we “should” eat.  Learning to listen for hunger, and eating before you get too hungry, helps you eat the amount of food that is right for you.

3. Make Peace with Food

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.  Let go of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that cause you to feel deprived of certain foods, which eventually leads to uncontrollable cravings and often binge eating.  When you tell yourself you can have any food anytime you want, it takes the charge out of the relationship with that food and allows you to choose freely when and how much you want to eat.  

4. Challenge the Food Police

There are no good foods or bad foods; it is just food.  But you have a voice in your head that evaluates every food based on diet culture.  Challenge this voice, deconstruct the “rules,” make all foods neutral and see how an intuitive sense of what you need and want is revealed.    

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Eating what you really want and enjoying it in a relaxed environment without judgement brings satisfaction and contentment.  You can provide yourself with this pleasurable experience and discover exactly how much feels good for you in that moment.    

6. Feel Your Fullness

What does it feel like when you are full?  There is actually a range of fullness that can be discovered and scaled to help you determine where you are at any given meal.  It helps to eat slowly and mindfully, checking in with yourself periodically to sense your fullness.  When you trust yourself to provide the foods you want when you are hungry, it becomes easier to feel your fullness and stop eating when it is comfortable.  

7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Feeling like you have no control around food, that you are an “emotional eater,” can be a result of the food restriction – either physically limiting your food or mentally telling yourself you can’t have certain foods (a.k.a. the food police).  Sometimes food does become a default comfort or coping mechanism for tough emotions.  As you heal your relationship with food, you will recognize when you are eating in relationship to emotions and have greater freedom and ability to choose how to provide yourself the comfort, support, and nurturing you need.

8. Respect Your Body

Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Each of us has our own genetic blueprint.  Instead of fighting it, accept it.  Treat your body with dignity.  It is your vessel to enjoy this life.  

9. Movement – Feel the Difference

Our bodies are made to move.  What types of movement do you enjoy?  How can you be more active in your daily life?  Increasing movement can lead to more agility, energy, and confidence allowing you to engage in the activities most important to you.

10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

Developing the ability to eat intuitively will help you naturally choose foods that support you feeling your best.  Each person is unique and certain foods and eating habits are going to support you better than others.  Take a curious, gentle approach to choosing foods that are pleasurable and nutritious.  

Intuitive Eating is a process not a destination.   Every meal and snack is another opportunity to check in with yourself and make choices that align with what your body wants and needs.  Progress, not perfection, is the aim.  Wherever you are on your Intuitive Eating journey, I am here to provide support.    

Resource: Intuitive Eating website