Intuitive Eating and how it could help you
As I sit at my desk this afternoon, I’m enjoying the feeling of satisfaction from the cookie I’ve just enjoyed with my cup of tea. I’m smiling because I feel so good about myself and it makes me realise just how far I’ve come. You see, my relationship with food used to be terrible. I ended up healing this relationship through a combination of training as a nutritionist (call it destiny) and discovering Intuitive Eating. Now, as a certified Intuitive Eating counsellor, I’m shouting from the rooftops about how Intuitive Eating could truly be your ticket to food freedom. Are you interested?
Eating a cookie won’t be a big deal to some, but the ability to genuinely enjoy a cookie just because I fancied it - without feeling any guilt or shame - is a huge achievement to me. Many years ago, before I became a nutritionist, I was trapped in the world of diet culture. I was obsessed with losing weight and stuck in a never-ending cycle of dieting, restricting food, bingeing food and never, ever being able to enjoy food. It was ruining my life.
What is the problem?
We live in a world that is saturated with diet culture. Diet culture is a belief system that equates health with being thin and promotes thinness as the utmost way to be, pressurising everybody to fit within a certain thin ‘ideal.’ This is just not true as health is not associated with weight. Everybody has different genetics, lifestyles, metabolisms, etc, and health looks different on everybody.
Yet, we are bombarded in this society with the message that if you don’t fit within the thin ideal, you should be striving for it. This can lead to health issues such as low self-esteem, dangerous levels of weight cycling due to yo-yo dieting, eating disorders, and bad body image.
Letting go of dieting
The problem with diet culture is that we can’t see it when we are in it. That’s to be expected as we are bombarded with diet culture messages from growing up, and you can’t beat yourself up for it. But, if you’re at a stage in your life (like I was) where yo-yo dieting is having a huge negative impact, it’s time to recognise that you need to make a change.
Examples of dieting negatively impacting your day-to-day life:
- you can’t enjoy food in social situations because it doesn’t follow your diet plan
- planning your meals for the day is a source of stress and/or anxiety
- you feel the need to track your calories
- you can’t enjoy certain foods without feeling guilt and/or shame
- certain foods are ‘forbidden’
- you find yourself craving certain foods all the time
- you can’t stop thinking about food all day
- you struggle with binge-eating episodes
- you follow particular food rules, such as not eating after a certain time of the day
- you turn down social invitations because of food
- you feel uncomfortable in your own body
Can you relate to any of these?
How can you break the cycle?
It may seem impossible right now, to imagine that you could ever reach a stage where you don’t feel the need to track calories or eat a chocolate bar guilt-free. But, it is possible - I’m living proof. Intuitive Eating could be just what you need.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is an anti-diet framework that is based around 10 principles, designed to help heal relationships with food. It was developed in 1995 by two US dietitians, who recognised that weight loss plans weren’t helping their clients with their health.
Intuitive Eating is not a linear ‘plan’ - it’s a learning process that involves having to be open and curious with yourself. It’s not a quick fix, but this is not a diet. You cannot ‘fail’ Intuitive Eating, and it’s well worth the journey.
Being an intuitive eater means you will never feel the need to diet ever again.
The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honour your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Feel your fullness
- Cope with your emotions with kindness
- Respect your body
- Movement - feel the difference
- Honour your health with gentle nutrition
As you can see, Intuitive Eating isn’t just about diet. It’s a holistic approach, as it involves all aspects of your health. This is because there are many intertwining factors that determine your health and diet is just one of them. Other factors could include your mental health, how fulfilled you are with your life, how physically active you are, the strength of your support system, your general stress levels, etc. I could go on and on.
If you are struggling in your relationship with food, it’s very likely that there are other areas of your life which also need healing. That’s OK, it’s all part of the process.
So, where to start?
The first principle of Intuitive Eating is to reject the diet mentality. This means starting to recognise and call out diet culture for the bulls**t that it is. It’s about getting angry about the way it has made you feel and the money you might have spent paying for diet plans which have just made you feel worse about yourself.
It’s about unfollowing anybody on social media who makes you feel rubbish. Even though technically the principles can be completed in any order, this is a good place to start as you’ll be more open to the idea of the other principles, once you’ve truly vowed to give up dieting (and meant it).
Over the course of the other principles, you’ll come across concepts such as:
- How hunger physically feels to you in your body (there are more hunger cues than you may have realised).
- How you can re-frame your thoughts to tell that guilt voice to eff off.
- The idea that all foods fit and you can give yourself unconditional permission to eat anything at any time.
- Rediscovering your taste buds and how satisfaction is more important than you may have thought.
- How exercise doesn’t need to be a gruelling workout.
- How emotional eating can actually be a good thing.
Plus so much more! Think of it as a revamp - you’re throwing out your old dieting habits and replacing them with a new approach to food (and health) that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, not restricted and hungry.
Are you feeling ready?
This is it. Nothing magic, nothing far-fetched. This is how I healed my relationship with food: through Intuitive Eating, an evidence-backed process. I can’t promise it’s easy - it takes time and effort to detangle yourself from long-held thoughts and beliefs. But this is the reason why I can now enjoy my life without food getting in the way, and why I can eat that cookie with a smile and move on.
If you would like help with healing your relationship with food and/or you're interested in learning more about how to become an intuitive eater, get in touch to book your free 15-minute discovery call and find out what I can do for you.