No calorie counting. No “bad” or “good” foods. No more shame. No more guilt. No more judgement.
Eating when you’re hungry. Stopping when you’re satisfied. Complete food freedom.
My journey with Intuitive Eating began a little over a year ago when my recovery from an eating disorder began. It was scary to let go of the stigma that society places on food, our bodies, and what “health” should be, but was necessary for me to find food freedom. Intuitive Eating (IE) is based on unconditional permission to eat, which seems scary since everywhere we turn we receive messages that that’s exactly what we shouldn’t do. The founder of IE is Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, who started this mentality to combat toxic diet culture.
The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating are:
- Reject the diet mentality
Throw out anything that promises you a quick fix. Allow yourself to be angry at the lies that told you that you weren’t doing enough. Get angry at diet culture.
- Honor your hunger
Listen to your hunger cues and eat when you feel them. Ignoring these cues lead to overeating.
- Make peace with food
Allow unconditional permission to eat all foods. Get rid of your list of forbidden foods. Allowing yourself to have the cookie if you want it. No room for guilt or judgement.
- Challenge the food police
Turn away from the voice that tells you that you are “bad” for eating cookies and “good” for eating a salad. This places unnecessary emotional weight on the food and then develops into “I am good” or “I am bad.” Food is food. No labeling.
- Respect your fullness
Respect your body’s signals that say you’re comfortably full. Take note during the meal where you are on the hunger scale.
- Discover the satisfaction factor
Remember that food can be pleasurable and satisfying! When we are eating what we really want in a supportive environment, it doesn’t take much to feel satisfied.
- Honor your feelings without using food
Honor when you feel angry, sad, overwhelmed, anxious, lonely, bored etc. without using food for comfort. It won’t solve the problem and may even bring about physical discomfort from overeating.
- Respect your body
Everyone’s body is different. Accept your body’s genetics. It’s hard to adopt Intuitive Eating while still being overly critical about your body.
- Exercise-feel the difference
No more grueling workouts for the sake of strictly big calorie burns. Focus on what type of movement will make your body feel good, which might be a walk with your dog, swimming laps, yoga before bed etc.
- Honor your health
Choose foods that satisfy your tastebuds and honor your health. One meal will not suddenly make you gain weight Strive for progress, not perfection.
The first step I took when I began to respect my body- ditch the scale. That’s right. Weight is only a number and that number gave me intense anxiety. Therefore, it had no place in my home. Many intuitive eaters take this step by either simply throwing the scale away or having a bit more fun. Smash it on the ground outside! It might be cathartic while setting a new intention of respect for your body.
Intuitive Eating was not designed with the intention of weight loss. Intuitive eaters are more likely to be at a set point weight, give or take a couple of pounds. This set point varies person to person, but it may mean that your weight either goes up, down, or stays the same. It’s important to accept that this journey is not about changing your body. Your main question might be, “if I allow myself to eat whatever I want, I’d only be eating [insert food that is off-limits to you here].” This may be the case once you begin intuitively eating. In fact, it’s very normal to have a period of time where all you want to eat are your forbidden foods. I promise, this chaotic phase will pass. Your body knows what it needs, and you’ll begin to notice you need some other foods, whether that be a piece of fruit or a protein.
With Intuitive Eating it’s important to recognize that this is not a set of rules that you must follow or else you fail. It’s not a diet and you might not eat intuitively with every meal. This is ok! Intuitive Eating boils down to body respect, which also includes not making any more space for self-loathing. Understand that your relationship with food, your body, and exercise will change. When you begin your journey to body respect, you might begin to move in a way that doesn’t feel like work. A workout that I was dreading slowly changed into movement based on how I was feeling that day. You’ll also begin to really get to know your hunger and fullness cues. It’s important to embrace the gray area when you begin this journey. Nutritionally, all foods are different, but emotionally, all foods are the same. There is no one right way to be on this Intuitive Eating journey.