After several decades of struggling in my relationship with food and body, I finally found my little piece of heaven when I discovered Intuitive Eating. This philosophy helped me make peace with food and my body and freed me from chronic dieting. I now enjoy a life free of food worry and body shame.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating, as defined by the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., defines intuitive eating as:
“… an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body — where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.”
The beauty of intuitive eating is that it’s so different than anything else you’ve ever tried. In fact, focusing on weight loss when first starting out in intuitive eating is strongly discouraged because it keeps you focused on the weight and not on learning to tune in to your body’s signals. This is often a turn-off for many chronic dieters because they are looking for instant gratification (a.k.a. quick weight loss). While intuitive eating will eventually help you achieve your natural weight, it is usually not until the ‘diet mentality’ is silenced and you’ve learned to first overcome your emotional eating.
Why Intuitive Eating is Not Just Another Diet?
Intuitive eating has been called the ‘Hunger/Fullness’ diet, but it’s so much more than that! Yes, intuitive eating helps you learn to more easily recognize your hunger and fullness cues, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Practicing intuitive eating teaches you to:
- Break free from the ‘diet mentality’ like meticulously counting carbs and fats and labeling foods as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’, which typically fosters guilt and shame.
- Overcome emotional overeating by learning to cope with your emotions and find healthier distractions.
- Unconditionally allow foods instead of restricting and depriving yourself, which eventually leads to making peace with all or most foods… even previous ‘trigger’ foods.
- Easily distinguish between emotional (a.k.a ‘head’ hunger) and physical hunger.
- Eat more mindfully and really enjoy your meals by taking time to smell, taste and experience the food.
- Choose foods based on their satisfaction factor, not their caloric content.
- Honor your hunger by allowing yourself to eat based on your physical hunger cues, not the time of day or amount of food remaining on your plate.
- Challenge and redirect the negative self-talk related to food and body.
- Appreciate and respect your body at any size.
- Replace militant exercise with physical activity that is actually pleasurable.
How Intuitive Eating Has Changed My Life
Intuitive eating has brought me freedom that I never imagined possible, especially after I had abused my body by traditional dieting for so many years. I no longer fear foods or have ‘trigger’ foods. All foods are allowed, and there is no restricting… even cookies and other carbs (although I don’t have them very often due to lack of desire). Knowing that I can have any food I physically desire has changed the way I relate to food. The thrill and temptation of the forbidden food no longer exists because I no longer have any. Simply put, when we allow and don’t deprive, the desire to have these previously forbidden foods disappears or significantly diminishes.
All the negative self-talk and torturous comparing I used to do about my body has lessened greatly. Now I appreciate and love my body, as it is, whether I’m at my ideal weight or not.
Because I’m more in tune with my body and seek food satisfaction without guilt, I pay closer attention to the foods I eat. By default, I naturally select nutrient dense foods because of the way these foods make my mind and body feel.
I now look forward to exercising and no longer fret about whether I’m sweating enough or burning enough calories to make the workout worthwhile.
I’ve become an expert at distinguishing between my emotional and physical hunger. And I no longer cave in to my emotional hunger or food cravings, which used to lead me down Binge Avenue.
Could Intuitive Eating Be Your Answer, Too?
I’m very thankful that I stumbled across the book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works several years ago while I was still in my perpetual quest to find the ‘answer’ to healing my relationship with food. Intuitive eating has renewed my faith in myself and transformed my relationship with my body in a way that I never thought was possible.
If you struggle in your relationship with food and body, and want to see permanent change, I encourage you to explore intuitive eating. Speaking from my own personal experience, and the amazing experiences of the women I have the privilege to coach, intuitive eating is a game changer and not just another diet.