Are you wondering what this whole “intuitive eating” thing is all about? You’ve come to the right place! I’m here to help you get started with Intuitive Eating and live a life of peace and freedom.
Have you heard the buzz words, “Intuitive Eating?”
It seems to have made an appearance more recently in the media (or perhaps I’m just noticing it now?)
Anyway, when I first heard the term intuitive eating, I thought it was a bit of a joke. You see, for years, I’ve been following a diet. I’ve been eating what a program told me to eat. So to let go of the diet and suddenly start trusting my “intuition” when it comes to food sounded outrageous.
The first thoughts that ran through my head when I heard “intuitive eating” were:
- I can’t trust my intuition. That’s what caused me to gain 100 pounds in the first place!
- What even is intuitive eating?
- This isn’t for me.
- Is this a joke?
- I could never follow this.
- I’m scared to let go.
Maybe you had these same thoughts when you first heard the term?
Or, maybe you thought, “YES! This is something I want to do because it sounds so easy!”
And then your next thought was, “Wait, where do I even start?”
Or, maybe you thought that intuitive eating is only about listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. And maybe you even started gaining weight when you tried eating “intuitively.”
If ANY of these situations rings a bell for you, then please read my tips for getting started with intuitive eating, because I promise you, it has changed my life for the better. Not only have I been able to maintain a healthy and stable weight, it’s also allowed me to have an extremely satisfying relationship with food and my body.
What is Intuitive Eating
You may be surprised to hear this, but we are ALL born intuitive eaters. As soon as we are born, our natural instinct is to cry when we need food and to stop when we don’t. Mother’s milk isn’t just used as fuel to help our growing bodies, it’s also used as comfort and a bonding experience.
Then, as we become toddlers, we still follow the same intuitive eating principles; we balance out our food and energy intake day to day. Some days toddlers eat a lot, other days they barely eat at all. Toddlers experience pleasure and social connection through food.
But then as we get older and more rules and restrictions are set around food, we lose our inner intuitive eater. Maybe you were also part of the “clean plate club?” You know, where you couldn’t leave the table until you finished everything on your plate! Or, you had to earn your dessert by eating all your vegetables first?
It’s funny when I look back on my childhood and think of all the rules we had around food. I truly believe that those rules have formed my relationship with food today.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
The principles of Intuitive Eating are intentions you can use to guide your eating and start to heal your relationship with food. It takes the balance of connecting back to your body’s cues as well as taking inspired action.
Reject the Diet Mentality
This was my first step to becoming an intuitive eater. For so many years I have been told what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. This was the hardest step in my journey, but the most important step in getting started.
Once I turned 40, I got so sick of the diets. Sure, I had lost 90 pounds successfully using diets, but at the expense of what? My health? My happiness? My hormones were shot. I was bloated all the time. I didn’t feel any better about myself. I was constantly thinking and worrying about food and exercise. I didn’t enjoy social outings.
Dieting creates all of these negatives in our lives, and hey, 95% of diets fail, so if that doesn’t tell you something, then I don’t know what will. DIETS DON’T WORK! PERIOD.
Once you start to realize this, you can slowly start to drop the diet mentality and go back to that inner intuitive eater that has been dormant for so many years.
Learn to Build Trust With Your Body and Food Again
Another BIG step for me in my intuitive eating journey was to begin to trust myself around food and to trust that my body knows what it needs.
I was so scared that if I let go of the diets, I would binge on all the “bad” foods for days on end. I was afraid I would gain all the weight back that I had worked so hard to lose.
But you know what? The exact opposite happened. Once I took those labels off of so called “bad” and “good” foods, I no longer had the desire to binge and restrict. Once I started listening to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness again, I wasn’t left starving an hour after a meal, wanting more.
Once I stopped counting and measuring, it was so much easier to maintain a healthy weight, a weight that my body needed to be at in order for it to function properly.
I also had to confront some pretty deep emotions around food and my body. I realized that I was using food and counting calories as a control mechanism in my life. I couldn’t be the “perfect” parent or the “perfect” wife, but I could be the “perfect” eater.
I used food control to compensate for my feelings of inadequacy as a mother, wife, and friend. Once I actually sat with that and realized what I was doing, I realized that it was okay to let go of that control. It was a like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I didn’t have to be perfect anymore, because I realized that I am perfect, just the way I am.
Pleasure and Satisfaction With Food are Essential
When was the last time you ate something with complete pleasure and satisfaction?
It had been 10+ years since I did this. I was eating “diet” foods all the time and not enjoying my food, which lead me to binge on sweets because my other food never satisfied me.
I’m sorry, but grilled chicken breast, eggs whites, brown rice, and steamed veggies and NOT satisfying. They do NOT bring us pleasure.
What foods do bring me satisfaction and pleasure? Mostly healthy fats! Here is how I enjoy my food now:
- I put butter on top of all my cooked veggies.
- I roast or fry veggies in coconut oil.
- I no longer eat “lean” protein all the time. We enjoy chicken thighs, ribs, chicken wings, pork shoulder, ground beef, bacon, whole eggs, etc.
- I eat full fat everything. No more “sugar-free” or “fat-free” foods.
- I dip my raw veggies in dips I actually enjoy!
- I dip my fruit in nut butter.
- I enjoy CocoWhip on everything! 😉
- Dark chocolate is a staple in my house.
- I enjoy some delicious treats like homemade carrot cake or chocolate banana bread.
- I go to a restaurant and order whatever the heck I feel like.
Yes I still aim to eat healthy most of the time, but I make those foods enjoyable! I never eat something because I “should.” I eat foods because they appeal to me in that moment. I know my body wants to be healthy, and I want my body to feel good, so I choose to eat healthy foods most of the time, but I also choose to enjoy life and that includes delicious and decadent treats when the occasion calls for it.
The Intuitive Eating Journey
I have to be honest with you, my intuitive eating journey didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of time, discovery, and digging deep within in order to become an intuitive eater.
I hear from so many women who say they tried intuitive eating and just ended up failing and gaining weight. My answer to that is: you didn’t embrace ALL of intuitive eating.
You see, intuitive eating isn’t just about eating! It’s about exploring your emotions and thoughts around food and your body. It’s about discovering what is causing you to make unhealthy decisions.
I could easily tell you that you just follow the 10 principles of intuitive eating and bam, you’re an intuitive eater. But that would be a lie. That would be making an empty promise to you just like your typical diet does.
Instead, I’m here to tell you that yes, change can be uncomfortable, and it may be more uncomfortable for some of you. But, it is so incredibly worth it to find freedom with food and love for yourself again. It is worth it to enjoy and CRAVE nourishing foods again, yet not be worried or stressed about it 24/7.
You’ll be enjoying chocolate rather than seeking satisfaction from a low-calorie, “fat-free” brownie mix – that you end up eating the whole pan of anyways. You’ll enjoy going out and socializing again without worrying “is this going to break my diet?!” You’ll find pleasure in the simple things again, like playing with your kids or taking your dog for a walk.
If you’re brand-new to intuitive aating, start to answer these questions:
- How would it feel to stop stressing and thinking about food all the time?
- What would finding freedom with food feel like to you?
- How would you spend your days, if you weren’t obsessing about food?
- How would it feel to actually love your body and appreciate it?
- What is one step you can take today to commit to your journey toward intuitive eating?
PS: If you’re ready to discover intuitive eating, consider joining my 3-week course, Drop the Diets.
Some other resources to help you:
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
The Intuitive Eating Workbook