Updated: Apr 24, 2020
There’s a false belief that Intuitive Eating is only for those with or recovered from eating disorders. I’m here to set the record straight and tell you how & why YOU can benefit from intuitive eating. This approach goes so much deeper than stopping counting calories or eating when you’re hungry. Intuitive Eating can and will change your life and your mindset for the better to create a healthier, more sustainable relationship between you, your body, & food. So let’s dive in...
1. Diet culture affects us all and the way we view and think about ourselves
Whether we realize it or not, diet culture has shaped our view of the world and of ourselves. This may manifest in distrust of self around food, extreme shame and guilt about food and body shape, or small negative thoughts. Diet culture teaches us that we are only as good as our food and exercise regime through associating foods and rest days with "bad" and salads and cardio with "good."
In addition to judging our morality based on our intake, diet culture conditions us to have one, unachievable goal: thinness. No matter what your body looks like, we are taught to constantly aim to shrink. This point could be a WHOLE series of blog posts of it's self. Weight does not equate to health.
Once you become aware of diet culture and make a point of recognizing it in everyday life, it's truly astounding how prevalent it is. Having the skills and knowledge to recognize and dismiss diet culture allows you to positively think of your body and health choices in terms of wellness, not thinness.
2. Allows to fuel and train optimally for your body
Many athletes and active individuals look to research to optimally fuel their bodies. While this is a great general reference point, what fueled "optimally" for a group of 12 healthy, white, twenty year old males isn't necessarily what is optimal for you. Everybody is different (I love that pun.) Your body isn't a math equation and it's needs are going to vary daily.
Through intuitive eating, you'll learn to tune into your body's cues and needs to give it the fuel and the movement it desires and requires. This allows you to fuel in a way that will make you feel your best pre, during, and post exercise. This process takes time and can be complicated (which is where having support and guidance from a dietitian can be so beneficial.)
3. Frees up time in your mind to not think about food, diets, & weight, or not looking in the mirror
One of my clients told me a couple weeks into working together, "It is insane how much free time I have when I'm not worrying about food or my body." Tying back into point one, diet culture is so instilled in us in ways we usually don't realize. Whether you have small thoughts before eating such as "well I ate X before so I really shouldn't have Y now" or when you glance in the mirror such as "ugh I really need to lose X pounds", your energy is being consumed by these negative thoughts. These small thoughts add up throughout the day and the more we think them, the more we believe them to be true.
Letting go of these false beliefs, your inner critic, and your food police, frees up an unbelievable amount of time and energy to focus on the things that you truly enjoy and enrich your life. This again takes hard work and practice but it is so worth it. Spend your life focusing on things that matter instead of nitpicking yourself in the mirror.
4. Increase self-confidence
When you think of times you've struggled, was it physical or mental? We hold ourselves back more than we'd like to admit. Can you guess what I'm going to say? It's all about mindset. That inner critic I talked about above telling you you're "bad" for making certain choices and your body is always going to be wrong? That voice diminishes your self-confidence and creates self-imposed obstacles to your goals. What's really holding you back from sending that next grade in climbing isn't your hangboard routine, it's your mindset. Truly believing you are capable of something is the first step towards doing it.
5. Improve coping mechanism for healthier and better emotional processing
It's quite common in our culture to use food as a coping mechanism. While this is an entirely valid tool, it is often not the healthiest or more useful method of coping with life's emotional stressors.
In the intuitive eating journey, we dive into what is driving our cravings and emotional eating, or other unhelpful coping methods, to fully understand what we need in the moment. Bringing curiosity into our emotional processing allows us to analyze what emotions feel like in our bodies and pick-and-choose what tools will best serve us in different situations.
This allows us to actually process our emotions in a beneficial manner to improve our emotional and mental health and well-being.
6. Feel good in your body all the time
When you know what makes your body feel good and you do that thing, you’ll feel good. It’s that simple. When we’re out of tune with our bodies, we simply lack the knowledge to give it what it needs most. We’ll have days or months or years where we feel sluggish, tired, off, etc with no idea what it is we truly need. Being the expert in your own body allows you to eat and train in a way that makes you feel fantastic as long as you listen to it.
7. Intuitive eating transcends into intuitive living
Finally and maybe most importantly, these benefits translate to the rest of your life. Learning to choose your food in a manner that honors and respects your body's need and wants, provides the skills to live a more intuitive life.
What does that even mean? You'll make decisions and choices in your day-to-day life based not only on what you want to do but what you need to do and what will make you feel the best.
This may come in the form of your relationships, clothing choices, professional decisions, or smaller choices like what color pillow you'll buy. Living a life that is true to who you are and what you truly desire will allow you to find happiness is everyday life.
Intuitive Eating can make all of our lives better, if we're open to letting go of diet culture and embracing the learning experience.
Are you interested in learning more about intuitive eating? Are you ready to ditch diet culture and start on your intuitive eating journey? Schedule your free 30 minute call with me to talk about your health journey, your goals, and see if my personalized one-on-one counseling program is a good fit.