Welcome back to the Intuitive Eating Fundamentals series! In this 3-part series, I'm introducing you to the principles of Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive Eating teaches you to listen to your own body when it comes to food. It's a system of ten principles designed to help you trust yourself to make eating decisions instead of following arbitrary, one-size-fits-all diet rules.
Today, we're covering three more principles of Intuitive Eating. If you're just tuning in, you might have missed the three principles we started with: Reject Diet Mentality, Honor Your Hunger, and Make Peace With Food. Don't worry! You can catch up quickly before reading today's post:
How to Make Peace With Food
Not sure why you might want to give Intuitive Eating a try? Let's talk about that before we dive in!
Why Intuitive Eating?
If you've been dieting for a long time, you've been putting decisions about your health and lifestyle in the hands of other people, maybe an Instagram celebrity or a diet guru of sorts. Why do this when you can get help from the only expert that knows what you truly need to thrive physically and emotionally? That's you, my friend.
Only you feel your hunger. Only you go through your life and face your day-to-day challenges. Only you feel your feelings and think your thoughts. Only you know the flavors you love and the flavors you hate. Only you know what makes you energized and ready to rock the day.
The problem is, with the years of delegating your eating decisions, your ability to listen to your body's cues and signals is a bit rusty. Intuitive Eating is a powerful tool to help you repair your relationship your body and with food.
Honestly, everyone can benefit from Intuitive Eating. Research has shown that intuitive eaters are at a lower risk of developing eating disorders and experience improved health and well-being. Still, this practice is especially helpful if you're perhaps struggling with cravings, emotional eating, binge eating, body image issues, and any other troubles related to your eating habits.
How does that sound? I know you're now eager to give this a shot and trust yourself around food again. Let's get to business and talk about today's principles.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Plot twist: the Food Police, my friend, lives in your own head. It's that nagging (and often mean) internal voice that monitors what you're eating and makes sure you're complying with dieting behavior.
The Food Police mirror thoughts and ideas we've internalized through the years of dieting and dealing with society's often-messed-up ideas about weight, food and women's bodies. The Food Police turn eating into a moral matter. It maybe praises you for skipping the bread with your soup and gives you a hard time when you go for a second slice of cake.
What the Food Police doesn't get is that eating isn't about good or bad. It can't be. We're all so different in what we do, how we feel, the things we think. There's no way we can simplify eating to a handful of black-and-white, uninformed statements.
Dare to challenge the Food Police. Demand that it proves the claims it makes about your eating habits. If the police say you shouldn't eat bread, ask yourself why is that. Does your experience back that up? Try to reframe your policing thoughts, so it reflects facts and your own knowledge about how you react to different foods.
You're not good or bad when you eat bread, friend. But you maybe do feel joyful and satisfied when you savor your mother's traditional chocolate cake or feel a little sluggish in the morning when you eat a big plate of pasta before bed. The Food Police don't see those nuances.
5. Feel Your Fullness
In the same way that you honor your hunger, you should also honor your fullness. That can be hard to do if you're unable to listen to your body when she tells you she's satisfied.
There are different reasons why you're missing your fullness cues. I bet you can guess the first one. Yep, that's right. Dieting. When you rely on diet plans to tell you when and how much to eat, you train your brain to think your body's signals don't matter. You become unable to notice your body's language. You only hear her when she's super hungry or super full.
Another reason why you grew desensitized to your fullness is mindless eating. You know, eating in a hurry, in front of the TV or worrying about the number of calories you're consuming. All of that takes your attention away from the sensations that help you notice when you're comfortably full and satisfied.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
One of the cruelest things about dieting is how it turns the pleasure that comes from eating into guilt and shame. Eating isn't only about fullness. It's also about satisfaction, and satisfaction only happens when we're able to enjoy our meals genuinely.
Perhaps this will sound familiar to you. It's lunchtime, and you have a big pile of greens and a piece of chicken breast waiting for you. You clean the plate, and you do feel kinda full, but something is off. You're no longer hungry, but you're still thinking about food. You're thinking about food so bad. Has this ever happened to you?
That's likely because you're physically full, but you're not satisfied. You might think that's all nonsense, but studies have shown that eating for satisfaction is correlated with smaller portions and higher well-being.
Try cooking your chicken in butter. Add some salty croutons or pieces of crunchy bacon to your salad. Have some chocolate for dessert. These details will make your meals a lot more satisfying and help you take your mind off food. When you allow yourself to enjoy food, you'll find that you suddenly spend a lot less time and energy thinking about it.
Trusting yourself around food
The principles we covered today will help you remove doubt, fear and second-guessing when you're eating. You know now that you're the only one who can decide what feels good or bad to eat. You know it is possible to stop eating when you're comfortably full. You know enjoying food is damn necessary.
You can be trusted around food. In fact, you're the only one to be trusted with your eating decisions. And remember: don't turn trust into a pursuit of perfection. This will result in more guilt and shame, and I'm sure you already had enough of that with the years of dieting. Self-trust isn't about getting it right all the time. It's about learning from your decisions and making better-informed ones tomorrow.
Over to you!
Let the things we talked about sink in, and experiment with them over the next few days. Tell me:
What has the Food Police been telling you, and what's the flaw in their logic? What changes can you make to allow you to listen in to your fullness? How can you make your meals a bit more satisfying?
And if you're ready to become a more intuitive eater, make sure to get your copy of the jump-start guide. It's packed with simple ideas to help you get started, in case you're a little unsure how to put this all to practice!
Join the Conversation
One more thing, if you want to hang out with me and other smart women determined to feel and do their best, make sure to join the Food Freedom Tribe, our free Facebook group.
>> Ready for more? Catch the final part of series here: How to Be Your Best Self