How to Start Intuitive Eating
If I can break it down into one sentence, it would be:
How to Start Intuitive Eating begins with rejecting diet mentality and rigid diet rules and in turn promotes a healthy relationship with food, mind and body by listening to your body and its internal cues.
Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it, this shit is hard work! It’s not a quick fix, it’s not going to provide rapid weight loss or immediately solve your struggles with disordered eating. BUT, I can promise you that it does work (I can attest) and if you are willing to wholeheartedly trust the process you will make peace with food. Wouldn’t it be nice to nurture your body instead of starve it, love and appreciate your body for all that it does no matter what size, and stop the endless cycle of dieting? By being guided through and embracing the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating, you too can get there. And I can tell you first hand, it’s a total GAME CHANGER!
Before we get in to exactly how to start intuitive eating, I have one BIG ask for those of you who have an end goal of weight loss. Are you willing to push that aside? I know, a dietitian telling you to not think of losing weight seems kinda crazy. But also it seems kinda freeing, right? There’s no pressure to meet a number on the scale or have a perfect food diary.
OK, I lied. I have another ask. Are you willing to try a totally different approach that throws away the advice of many diet books and magazine articles you have read in the past?
Hopefully I haven’t lost you yet and you are still intrigued to learn how to start intuitive eating. Wait no more, here is an overview of the 10 Intuitive Eating principles.
1. REJECT THE DIET MENTALITY
You've got to let it go. Every promise that you've read, every false hope you were given, every feeling of failure when you lost the weight but gained it back (note: the diet failed you). Any small sense of hope that the next new diet will be "the one" can inhibit your chance of becoming free from diet mentality and fully embracing Intuitive Eating.
2. HONOR YOUR HUNGER
Learning to honor your true hunger is the first step in rebuilding trust between yourself and food. It's time to toss the rules of when you should and shouldn't eat out the window and trust your body. P.S. It kinda knows better than anyone else or any book can tell you.
3. MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD
Speaking of rules, I feel like the ultimate diet rule is “eat this because it's ‘good’ for you and not that because it's ‘bad’ for you”. Well, did you ever feel like when you restrict a certain food (for me it was ice cream) that it's pretty much the only food you actually crave ALL THE TIME? And, just when you think you trust yourself to have a little taste, you end up eating way more than you were actually hungry for. It's time to let go of the deprivation and give yourself permission to enjoy all foods.
4. CHALLENGE THE FOOD POLICE
This ties in closely with #3. Challenge those voices in your head that high five you for eating a certain calorie level or sticking to your diet and flip you the bird when you drank that glass of wine and had some cheese after 7 pm. When you can kick this voice to the curb you are definitely on your way to a life of food freedom.
5. FEEL YOUR FULLNESS
Trust your body and listen to its cues that you are no longer hungry. This step can be a little easier once you let go of the diet rules like only eating 3 times a day or not after 7 pm. Knowing that it is OK to eat whenever you truly feel hungry is freeing.
6. DISCOVER THE SATISFACTION FACTOR
With all the rules imposed from diet culture, we often forget the pleasure and satisfaction that food and the experience of eating can bring. There aren't many things in life that evoke memories quite like food. For instance, I remember going to my Nanny and Poppy's house to visit and there would always be a delicious angel food cake in a glass-dome cake stand on top of the fridge and the most amazing OJ (I’m pretty sure it was Minute-Maid frozen concentrate) in a Tupperware pitcher inside the fridge. To this day, I can see Nanny slicing that angel food cake and Poppy pouring that OJ into a small glass like it was yesterday. I can taste it. I can smell it. Immediately, I'm filled with joy. We must allow memories like that to be made instead of missing out because we passed on the angel food or OJ because they aren't "good" for us or whatever diet rule of the week says.
7. COPE WITH YOUR EMOTIONS WITHOUT USING FOOD
Emotions can be really tough to deal with and often times we turn to food as a means of distracting or comforting us. However, in the end whatever caused that emotion remains and we often feel discomfort from overeating and worse in the long run because of the guilt from turning to food. It's time to learn to face your emotions in a healthier way and not rely on food to provide a short term fix.
8. RESPECT YOUR BODY
It's time to let go of societal ideals of the perfect body and understand that we are all different and can't fit into the same mold. It's SO important to respect your body so you can love yourself every day.
9. EXERCISE – FEEL THE DIFFERENCE
Exercise can be a scary word for some of us. The most important thing is to find something you love to do AND shift your focus away from the calories being burned to the way your body feels. This can make all the difference in the world.
10. HONOR YOUR HEALTH WITH GENTLE NUTRITION
My motto: 'Perfect isn't perfect, nor should it be' rings so true for this last principle. It's so important to remember that your food intake doesn't always have to mimic the latest, perfectly nutritious and gorgeous photograph on Instagram from your friend or celebrity. One meal, one day, one bite will not define your overall nutrition. It's all about making progress.
This whole process kinda feels like a familiar tagline - "Beautifully messy and made with love". Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? (Song is stuck in your head now, isn't it? You're welcome.)