Have you heard the term intuitive eating but you are wondering what is intuitive eating? Intuitive eating means you make peace with all types of foods. It’s the stop all or nothing thinking that can be harmful. Eat when hungry, and pay attention to your body and the feelings of fullness.
All or nothing thinking is a type of cognitive distortion where you live with one extreme or another. You feel that either you do something perfectly, or not at all. This can lead to issues throughout your life, including when it comes to the way you eat and living a healthy lifestyle.
What to Know Before You Start Intuitive Eating
If you have been looking into intuitive eating that is great! It has wonderful benefits from healing your relationship with food to saying goodbye to diets forever. But there are some things to understand before you get started.
Many dieters struggle with all or nothing thinking, which causes you either to be very strict with your food or give it all up and go on a major binge session. But what you will find in the middle of this, is balance, health, and eating intuitively.
You Can’t Focus on Intuitive Eating and Weight Loss at the Same Time
This is one of the most important things to understand about intuitive eating. It is NOT a diet, nor is it a way to learn how to control your portions to help you lose weight. If you have a goal of weight loss, intuitive eating will not work for you.
You have to come to a place of body acceptance, where you fully accept that your body may not get smaller and might even get a little bigger before everything balances out. If you can’t do that, you won’t be able to fully embrace eating intuitively.
How Intuitive Eating Works
People are often under this misconception that intuitive eating is just perpetuating obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, and just causing people to eat nothing but Oreo cookies and McDonald’s. While it is true that many people eat foods they previously thought of as off-limits, they also eat a lot of nourishing food as well.
Intuitive eating is not a free-for-all where you eat whatever you want, in whatever quantity, regardless of how it makes you feel. It is all about honoring your hunger, trusting your body, and eating to fuel and nourish your body.
When a person is mindful of what they are doing, they also become accountable for their actions. Eating when one isn’t hungry or eating what one knows isn’t healthy is not being mindful of your body’s needs.
Intuitive Eating Relieves Stress About Food and Diets
To start with, you are able to relieve a lot of stress and frustration in your life when you begin intuitive eating. Think about how much time you spend thinking about food, researching diets, trying to plan your life around healthy meals, and the stress that comes from fear of hunger, binge and restrict cycles, and an obsession with how you look.
SO much of this is alleviated when you begin eating intuitively. All you have to do is follow your body’s cues, whether it means you are craving a juicy steak, or you are feeling like eating a big salad.
There will be days or weeks you do great, and then there will be days or weeks you struggle. That is because life happens, and when it does you pick yourself up and go at it again.
This is Not a Linear Process
Intuitive is not linear, like most things in life. There are ebbs and flows, good days and bad days. One day, you might feel like you have a handle on it and your appetite is getting back to normal, and the next day you feel ravenous and out of control with food. This is all normal and part of the process.
Don’t give up! Just keep going and learning. Trust your body, follow your cravings, and understand that it will all lead you toward a life free of diets.
Nobody is Perfect All of the Time
If you keep getting caught up in the all-or-nothing thinking, something to remember is that being perfect all the time isn’t something anyone can achieve. You are a human being, and that comes with having a lot of good days, and some bad days. Nothing is black and white, so if you have this thinking, it is only going to lead to feelings of negativity, guilt, shame, and frustration.
There will be days you do great and feel great. Then there will be days that are just off, you may be overeating or over-exercise and just feel not so great. Do you know what that is? That is called life, and you are not alone. Everyone around the world struggles so don’t be hard on yourself for having good and bad days. Use a little self care instead of beating yourself up will help.
Keep in mind that life is crazy and sometimes you don’t have control of certain aspects of your day. However, with a little thought put into it you can manage to keep up with intuitive eating.
This Leads to Yo-Yo Dieting and Disordered Eating
The all or nothing is not only damaging to your mental health but your physical health as well. If you have trouble with dieting and binging, or any type of disordered eating, it might be partially from this black and white way you live your life.
When you start thinking in all or nothing as it related to food and dieting, it often means you are either on a restrictive diet, or you are overeating/binging to the point of being sick. If this sounds like you, it is this very attitude that is holding you back. You feel like if you eat a cookie for a snack, you just blew your diet, so you might as well eat the rest of the dozen. (we have all done this). Then you experience shame and guilt, followed by more binging, for days or weeks until you start restricting again.
Maybe your day started good, then you met a friend for lunch and she ordered dessert and so you couldn’t watch her eat cheesecake alone, so you ordered as well. Bam, now you are mad at yourself so when you get home you finish off that bag of chips or leftover pie in the fridge.
Avoid Binge Cycles
This is a big deal for chronic dieters, people with disordered eating and eating disorders, and anyone who feels out of control around food. If you fear food, are afraid of sugar and fat, and think carbs are coming for you, then intuitive eating is the best option for you. In the beginning, it can be scary, but if you follow through with it, you will start to notice when you stop binging and are able to just eat and not worry about it.
Beating yourself up over “living life” can turn into an eating disorder very quickly. More people have an eating disorder than one might realize. There are many levels of yo-yo dieting and eating disorders that many think isn’t a problem, when in fact they are.
Intuitive Eating Helps to Get Rid of This Mentality
Intuitive eating is a great way to start to think about balance and moderation, as opposed to all or nothing. It promotes just living your life and striving for fulfillment and satisfaction. Through eating intuitively, you don’t follow a diet, you don’t count calories, and you don’t wear a fitness tracker. It’s learning how to break free of the diet world.
Dieting is seen as a quick way of losing weight, when in fact the word “diet” has many meanings depending on who you ask. Some people hear the word diet and think that only overweight people are on diets. Or, one might think a diet is just for someone with a goal in mind fitness-wise. I just say, get rid of the word “diet” and just live a life of intuitive eating and intuitive fitness.
Instead, you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, focus more on mindfulness and how you feel, and don’t limit anything from your diet. This means some days, your lunch is pizza, while other days it is a delicious salad. There is no right or wrong, it’s all just food.
Go out for dinner and drinks with friends, and don’t be mad the next day because you had breadsticks with your meal. Be happy, you are living life intuitively. Get up, take a walk, or do some kind of fitness activity and go about your day.
Here are some ways that intuitive eating works, and can help you be the healthiest you have ever been.
You Won’t Feel Out of Control Forever
That feeling of being out of control around certain types of food if you aren’t tracking, won’t last forever. It can cause a lot of fear and anxiety in the beginning, especially if you feel like you have a history of food addiction and overeating. If you are used to restricting food and writing down every single calorie and carb, it feels scary to suddenly let all that go.
But the feeling of being out of control doesn’t last forever. You just must learn how to follow your body’s cues and trust them to guide you in the right direction.
Finding a Good Support System is Crucial
From the very beginning of your intuitive eating journey, you need to have people who will support you. You don’t have to tell everyone what you are doing but find at least one person you trust who you can talk to about it. Someone who won’t judge you, who won’t throw diet talk in your face, and who isn’t going to trigger you in any way. On the opposite end, you may need to distance yourself from people who are deep in diet culture.
Facebook has many different support groups depending on what you are looking for. Do a search, find ones you feel you fit in with, and get the support you need.
Final Thoughts about Intuitive Eating
Before you find yourself with an eating disorder of some kind due to an unrealistic way of thinking, take a look at Intuitive Eating and how it can help you live a long, healthy life.
Check out a journal, or a workbook to help you figure out how to break free of unhealthy choices. Break free from fad diets and unhealthy life choices. Learn to love the body you have, respect it, and treat it kindly. Listen to your gut, and use self-love.
Reject diet mentality, honor your hunger, make peace with food, feel your fullness, respect your body, and honor your health.
Books on Intuitive Eating
When you are looking into intuitive eating, the internet can be a wonderful resource. You will find tons of websites, blogs, and social media accounts dedicated to educating their audience on the wonderful benefits of eating intuitively. However, books are a resource everyone should be using in addition to what the internet can provide you.
Enjoy these books, and enjoy the Intuitive Living help found here on Making it All Work.