February 7, 2019 | Lex Daddio
Good Morning! So I know I talk about Intuitive Eating (IE) all the time and I thought it might be helpful to do a blog overview of what IE actually is, what the steps are, and some good resources for you to check out if you want to learn more about it! I’m going to do a series so this is just the overview to kick it all off. After this post, I will dive deeply into each step & go into more detail so be on the lookout if you’re interested to know more!
If you haven’t read the book Intuitive Eating, this would be a great place to start. I’m actually currently certified (finally!) to counsel people on how to eat intuitively. I’ll be setting up my program and letting you all know once it’s open for clients & I’m super excited! For now, let’s start with what IE actually is.
Here are a few ways the authors defined Intuitive Eating:
“Intuitive eating is a process-based approach that ultimately teaches patients how to have a healthy relationship with food, wherein patients become the expert of their own bodies. Patients learn how to trust their ability to meet their needs, are able to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and develop body wisdom.”
“Essentially, Intuitive Eating is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”
“Intuitive Eating is not a diet or food plan. Period. There is no pass or fail, therefore there is no “blowing it”, rather it’s a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body. There is nothing to count: this includes no counting of calories, carbs, points, or macros.”
“Ultimately, you are the expert of your body. Only you know what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feels like. Only you know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Intuitive Eating is an empowerment tool–it’s time to unleash it and liberate yourself from the prison of diet culture and weight obsession.”
So it’s pretty great and I know people can read that and be like okay that all sounds awesome, but that would never work for me. Well let me tell you, I didn’t think I’d ever be in the place I am now! I struggled with a binge eating disorder for 7 years (here’s my blog post all about my healing journey with that), and it was ROUGH. I mean terrible. I was depressed, miserable, and honestly hated my life and myself. Which makes me so sad now. But I’m telling you this because if you’re there, I GET IT. I truly believe if I can be healed, anyone can! Don’t give up and don’t lose hope. & also maybe IE isn’t for you. That’s totally fine, but I’m telling you it’s worth a shot. If you’re in the depths of an eating order though, I highly suggest and ask you to seek help. Find a counselor who is certified in eating disorders (ones I love are listed at the end)! Just a note, I won’t be able to counsel through actually eating disorders, because that takes a lot more schooling, but I’m here to help anyone that’s ready to FINALLY ditch the diets and obsessions and ready to start living!
Here are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Let’s be honest, diets don’t work. They might work for the short term, but they aren’t sustainable. They promise you fast results and that you’ll keep the weight off forever and that’s just not how it works. If they did work, then people could go on one diet and never need one again, but we all know that doesn’t happen either. They only leave you frustrated and defeated when they don’t work and you gain back the weight. So you have to let them go. Give them up. Just be done with them!
2. Honor Your Hunger
It’s important to take care of yourself by keeping yourself fed and happy. It gives you energy and when you try to eat less or restrict, your body automatically wants to overeat. Not because of lack of willpower or because you are addicted to some kind of food! Your body is just hungry, and it’s trying to take care of you! Learning to honor this and keep yourself nourished is super important in the process of your body trusting you again with food.
3. Make Peace with Food
Restriction leads to deprivation. It just does. If you say you can’t have sugar, then how much more do you crave sugar? We’re human and if we’re told we can’t have it, we only want it more. So letting go of restrictions and truly letting yourself have permission to eat what you enjoy then those intense feelings and cravings will eventually (it takes time) calm down. Restricting typically leads to you finally throwing in the towel and “giving in” to whatever food and typically leads to a binge and you never get to actually enjoy it, but instead it leaves you feeling guilt and shame.
4. Challenge the Food Police
You are NOT a good or bad person depending on what you eat. You are not better than someone else for eating healthy, or worse than someone else because you don’t eat paleo. A slice of chocolate cake does not make you a bad person. Let that go and challenge the thoughts or “the food police” that tell you this. The food police is that voice in your head that tells you all these food rules you have to follow, that makes you feel guilty, that makes you hopeless. You have to reframe your thoughts and take those negative statements and make them positive. This is a critical step to learning to eat intuitively.
5. Feel Your Fullness
This can be hard, trust me. Especially if you’ve had an eating disorder and your hunger/ fullness cues are all over the place. You have to deal with that before you can get to a place where you can start listening/ honoring your body. So be patient during this step, but start practicing. When you eat, sit down and savor your meal. Chew the food and taste it. Smell it. Eat it slow. Do you actually enjoy it? How’s your belly feel? Are you starting to feel no long hungry? Practice with your fullness level. You won’t have to do this forever, because eventually it’ll become more second nature, but there is a period where you have to be intentional with it and practice.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Pleasure plays a huge role in helping you to feel satisfied and content from your meal. We get so focused on dieting, eating perfectly, and losing weight that we miss out on the pleasure and joy of food. If you’re just eating to “fuel” or hit a certain calorie intake, etc, then are you really enjoying the food or is it becoming more of a science? A lot of the time we’re just eating food because we’re told to. If you let go of all the noise and actually eat food you enjoy and take the time to enjoy eating it, then you tend to need less to hit your satisfaction.
7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
This can be super hard, especially if you’re used to using food to cope. Food can become a friend and a way to distract yourself or try to stuff down your feelings, but that’s really not the point of it. So this is the where you learn to cope with your emotions without using food. Eventually after you learn this, there will be times where food is emotional and comforting and that’s totally okay! But this is the step where you want to learn other ways to cope like: journaling, going on a walk, calling a friend, taking a hot bath or shower, helping someone else in need, etc.
8. Respect Your Body
Diet culture tells us that our bodies have to look a certain way to be happy. FALSE. Stop trying to manipulate your to be a certain shape if it’s not meant to be that way. This is where your body will eventually find it’s natural set point and you won’t be fluctuating all over the place anymore, because you won’t constantly be restricting/ binging. Your body finds the right balance and you can actually spend your life living it rather than constantly worrying about your shape, size, avoiding foods/ drinks, etc. Don’t let diet culture control your life.
9. Exercise – Feel the Difference
It’s not about some exercise program that going to give you a 6 pack. Or the new hottest workout studio that you have to go to. They all promise you a beach body, but hey, they also want your money and to get you in their door. I mean let’s be honest. It’s not about fitting in with the world, it’s about finding the type of movement you enjoy and that FEELS good. It might take awhile before you even find something you like. That’s okay. Start with walking or something so simple. Add little things into your day that bring more movement into your life. This is where you focus on how the movement feels and how it makes you feel rather than just trying to burn all the calories and get skinny. If you’re focused on how a morning walk will give you energy rather than to burn calories and lose weight, it’s way more motivating to get out of bed!
10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
This one is last for a reason. You have to deal with your relationship with food and deal with principles 1-9 before you can truly get here. This is where you learn to make food choices that honor your health, but also your tastebuds. Nutrition is important and so is taking care of yourself, but nutrition is something that matters over time and with consistency. You won’t get nutrient deficient or gain weight from one meal, snack, or day of eating. Progress over perfection!
This is the basis of what Intuitive Eating is and the steps to get there. It’s a process. A journey. Have grace and patience. Every little victory leads to your healing. Now that I’ve shared the 10 principles and a little background, I’m going to link some great resources for you if you’re interested to know more! I’ll be back next week to dive deeper into Principle #1! I hope this is helpful and encouraging 🙂
Resources: (PS I linked everything for you, so just click on the resource & it should bring you straight to the page!)