Intuitive eating (IE) is a nutrition philosophy developed by two RDs, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – they coined the term and put out a book outlining the principles. There are 10 principles in total:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise – Feel the difference
- Honor your health
How I describe IE is getting back to the roots of how we were supposed to interact with food. Think of a baby, nursing or even taking a bottle, babies cry when they’re hungry, when they’re offered their milk, they drink, when they’re full they stop, turn their head and decline any further offers. We are born to be intuitive eaters.
So you might be asking yourself “if we’re meant to be intuitive eaters what gets in the way?”. (Refer to principle #1) The diet mentality. Diet culture, which is the environment that exists that promotes dieting as a fix it to whatever your “issue” is. That ‘perceived’ issue may be your weight, your size, your body type, your energy, your anything really. It’s the idea that “health” is a certain size or shape. It’s the idea that we need someone outside ourselves to tell us what to do, when to do it and why.
It’s the thousands of messages we are bombarded with daily through marketing and sales saying we aren’t enough… but we could be if we buy this meal plan, if we subscribe, if we eat this and not that, if we start this diet and follow it strictly, if we… and on and on and on.
This diet mentality ALWAYS leads to destruction. It pours doubt and shame on you until you give in and decide to “do something about your health” and that something is usually starting a restrictive diet that causes you to feel deprived and turns food into the enemy. This restriction can’t last, it just simply isn’t sustainable, and ultimately leads to a binge which causes the guilt and shame to pour right back in. This is what we refer to as the shame-diet-binge cycle that is ever present in most people’s lives. This cycle is not only detrimental for our physical health but also damages our relationship with food and our bodies causing more and more harm everytime we cycle through this loop. It can cause disordered eating patterns, negative self-talk, and eventually lead to a full blown eating disorder.
So taking the power away from food, re-learning your hunger and fullness cues, placing the emphasis on habits that serve you and your body, re-claiming your thoughts around food, trusting that your body knows best for you, and learning to be creative and take risks with food in order to learn what works best for you in a gentle way to nourish your body is the goal and all you will need for life.
IE doesn’t have rules or an exact process but if it did it would look like this: step back and audit your current relationship with food (without judgement), tune in and try your best to honor what your body is asking for, try something (anything), learn how your body responds, add that knowledge to your bank of information about YOUR body, repeat.
I promise you your relationship with food will grow exponentially. I promise you food freedom, mental peace and a giant leap towards actually loving your body and isn’t that what you really want anyways when you buy or follow that diet?
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