Intuitive Eating 101
With the recent rise in intuitive eating popularity, it’s easy to wonder, is it just another ‘wellness fad?’ In truth, intuitive eating is the opposite: it’s our innate way of interacting with food. We are ALL born as natural intuitive eaters. It isn’t until rules + restrictions are imposed [those ones that make us feel crazy + confused around food] that we lose connection to that essential part of ourselves.
Luckily, the practice of Intuitive Eating helps us to unlearn the rules of diet culture while guiding us back to our natural, intuitive food behaviors through ten principles:In this post, we’re talking about rejecting the diet mentality + making peace with food, which are essential to beginning your intuitive eating journey.
Many people come to intuitive eating after years of dieting + following certain food rules. Can you relate? I know I can! When I think about my own journey, I came to intuitive eating with a history that had made most every food off limit at one point or another because of all the different diets + detoxes I had followed [think — sugar, caffeine, dairy, beans, grains, meat, eggs, nightshade veggies, cooked veggies, starches, fruit, peanuts, nuts, seeds… you name it, I had eliminated it]. There were a lot of ‘shoulds’ swirling around in my head, which naturally made it hard to hear what my body actually needed. So, at the beginning of the process there was a season of making peace with all foods. I had to learn that my morality wasn’t tied to my decision to eat a bowl of ice cream over a bowl of kale. I had to let go of a lot of guilt + judgement about myself around certain foods. I had to overcome a lot of fear.
Without taking these steps to make peace with all foods, certain foods hold pretend power over us — which can trigger binges, make it incredibly hard [if not impossible] to hear what we really need, + also falsely affect our worth. When we no longer see ourselves as the devil or a failure when we eat a certain food, we can then start to ask ourselves questions like, ‘how does this make me feel?’ without judgement or guilt. Once food loses its power over our identity + we can feel totally relaxed around it, we are free to make choices that honor our unique bodies, lifestyles, values, + budgets. This is what making peace with food is all about.
It can be scary at first because we are afraid to “lose control.” We think if we are allowed to eat brownies, we will eat ALL the brownies. When you first give yourself permission to eat all foods, sure! You will want to eat more of those foods that you haven’t been allowed to eat. That’s an incredibly normal part of the process + with good reason.
You crave these foods so much in the beginning is because you have made them off limits. So, of course you will want these foods in the beginning. But the more permission you give yourself the more you’ll be able to check in with your body + see what feels good for you. When you remove judgment, you create space to truly listen to what does + doesn’t feel good for your body, what you do + don’t like, + you can finally hear what your body actually wants.
If you’re feeling afraid that letting go of the rules + restriction will make you out of control around food, I want to encourage you that intuitive eating makes it possible for you to really connect with yourself + meet our body’s needs. It’s not giving up control, it’s embracing connection.
With intuitive eating, we get to trade our judgment + control around food for curiosity + connection with our bodies.
If you’re looking to start your intuitive eating journey, here are some awesome first steps:
#1] Do a diet culture clean out
Unfollow any accounts, unsubscribe from any emails, + delete any apps that make you feel like you need to follow certain food rules or eat in a specific way.
#2] Add in supportive messages
Follow people, listen to podcasts, + read books that are sharing an intuitive eating approach + encouraging you to listen to your body. These books are great to start with:
#3] Make a list of all the food rules you currently follow or feel you *should* follow
This includes any foods that you see as *bad* or *off limits*. Are there any foods on that list what would feel good to start making peace with?
#4] Slowly + gently start to make peace with those foods!
Practice giving yourself permission to eat the brownie [or whatever else showed up on that list]. Practice creating positive experiences with these previously ‘off limits’ foods one by one.
. . .
Nobody knows what your body needs more than you do. I’m so excited for you to begin to tune out all the external rules + ‘shoulds’ so that you can start tuning into that innate wisdom.