What is Intuitive Eating?
You’ve probably heard me mention intuitive eating quite a bit at this point.
I refer often to listening to hunger and fullness cues, body image, not giving food moral value (good vs bad), and other concepts that aren’t often talked about in the nutrition world.
I figured it was only appropriate that my first blog post was about this “strange” concept. I want to thoroughly introduce you to what intuitive eating is and to help you understand why it’s so different from any way of eating you’ve heard about before.
When I first started reading about intuitive eating, my mind was blown. It made SO much sense and was SO confusing at the same time. It was different than anything I had ever heard before. We have been sold a message our entire lives that weight = health, that certain foods are going to kill you if you eat them, that the key to getting that “dreamy” body can be boiled down to a simple calories in < calories out…all of this sound familiar?
Well intuitive eating finally calls out that thinking for what it is. Absolute bull.
Relying on a diet, a set of rules, or your friends and family to tell you when to eat and what to eat is absolutely absurd. We are born with the natural ability to regulate how much to eat. If we all learned how to listen to our own cues instead of external cues when it came to eating and even exercising, we would most likely all be at our own natural “set points”, or natural body weight. This is the weight that your body was designed to be. It doesn’t look anything like your neighbor’s, your sibling’s, your friend’s, or that model’s. It’s YOUR set point and what YOUR genes have deemed the weight that your body is happy at. More on that in another post.
Research shows that dieting DOESN’T work. The weight always comes back, plus more! Because of this, diets result in a terrible cycle...you diet and lose weight, but the diet you went on is not sustainable so you fall back into your normal eating habits. The weight you lost comes back with a vengeance (there are physiological reasons for this!), you feel bad again, so you go back on the diet. When people decide to finally break the cycle and stop dieting, they’re usually at a higher weight than they’ve ever been before! It. Doesn’t. Work.
I knew this. Most dietitians know this. But the problem in the nutrition/health and wellness industry is that most dietitians and health professionals then thought that the solution to this dieting problem was “it needs to be a lifestyle, not a diet.” Cue the eyerolls.
I mean, it’s partially right. The way you choose to eat is most healthy, in my opinion, when it’s a way of eating you can continue the rest of your life. What I’m saying in this instance is that the diet industry is sneaky. This multi-million dollar industry figured out that people were getting too smart to fall for diet pills, juices, and teas, and instead re-branded diets as lifestyles.
This is where diets like Whole 30, Paleo, 21 day fix, and others come in. I’m sorry to burst your bubble but these are not sustainable lifestyles, nor is there significant research to suggest these diets are healthy ways of eating. If the way you eat is dictated by rules, you are on a diet.
The concern here? You’re still listening to external cues to tell you when to eat and what to eat. It makes me so mad when I see someone finally break free of traditional dieting, only to fall into the “lifestyle” trap. This is still not sustainable. This is still riddled with guilt. There are still foods that are considered “bad”, and you are still sold that you will lose weight. Diet diet diet diet diet.
Enter intuitive eating.
Welcome to the land of freedom. The place where you eat when you are hungry, you eat what sounds good, and you stop eating when you are full. Where every single food is guilt-free because food does not have moral value to it. Where your life is full and rich because all of the mental energy you invested into trying to change your body size and “control yourself around food” is now invested into making memories, living out your values, and engaging in what’s important to you.
You CAN enjoy food again. You CAN find peace with your body’s natural size. And you CAN live a life where you take back your intuition and get to a place where you’re so busy enjoying life that your weight and what you eat rarely crosses your mind.