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How Intuitive Eating Can Change Your Life

How Intuitive Eating Can Change Your Life

Guest Post by: Meghan O'Hara

Creating a healthy relationship with our bodies and food is a radical concept in a culture that benefits from us hating ourselves. Women have been sold the idea that our bodies should look small, neat and pretty. And if our bodies differ in any way, we believe there is something that needs to be fixed. This programing is so deeply embedded in our consciousness that in 2019, the diet industry market reached a record $78 billion in sales.

Meanwhile, there has been a powerful movement in the last 30 years (currently gaining more popularity) known as “health at every size” that takes the emphasis off the size and shape of our bodies and onto creating healthy habits. One of the most powerful tools in these efforts is a way of thinking about and engaging with food known as “Intuitive Eating.”

All of these tenets are based on the foundation of one being able to tap into and feel/hear their own intuition. The following ten tenets were developed by Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Take full ownership of your mental space by letting go of all notions that there will be a diet or food plan to transform your body to one that will make you feel confident and at home in your skin. The way that we feel about our bodies is not tied to what they look like.

2. Honor Your Hunger

Learn to notice the intricate ways your body communicates to you. Your hunger cues will be

subtle at first, and if we miss them, they can start to scream. If we ignore our hunger for long

enough, you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Honoring your hunger is essential to build

trust in yourself and in food.

3. Make Peace with Food

Give yourself full permission to eat. If shame or guilt is involved in eating decisions, this can

lead to restriction then eventually binging.

4. Challenge the Food Police

Notice when you’re engaging in a “right” and “wrong” approach to eating. The food police carry constant judgement about what you “should” be eating. Learning to recognize this voice gives you the freedom to choose another approach to making food decisions.

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Giving ourselves permission to eat in a way that nourishes and satisfies us is a deeply healing path. This includes eating what you really want and in an environment that is enjoyable to give yourself an experience of pleasure.

6. Feel Your Fullness

This is a skill that we often need to re-learn. It can be challenging to be in touch with our fullness cues if our nervous systems are feeling overwhelmed (we’re stressed) or when we’re in an environment where we don’t feel fully comfortable (loud spaces, being around triggering family members, etc). Feeling our fullness is a skill that we practice to re-establish a loving and kind relationship with our bodies.

7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Build your “comfort” tool belt to include many different tools. This is also a practice that takes time to learn how to be with difficult emotions (anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, etc). Food can be an incredibly quick and easy way to add pleasure into our experience, but food won’t fix any of these feelings. It’s not wrong or bad to engage in emotional eating, but it’s important to distinguish when we’re craving a food because our emotions need comforting and when we’re experiencing hunger.