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Update on my intuitive eating journey:
“Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior based on your eating choices.”
― Evelyn Tribole, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works
As discussed in the previous blog Don’t Hate the Dieter, Hate the Diet Culture I talked about how diet culture has made people especially women so afraid to eat and honor their true hunger. Diet culture has equated being thin to being healthy and promotes weight loss as its only priority rather than overall health and wellbeing. This is because diet culture wants to sell us their latest diet fad. If you ate normally without fearing food, managed your weight or felt great about yourself how could they sell you their “lose 40 pounds in 6 weeks” program? Thankfully I joined the body positive community to finally wake up from the brainwashing due to diet culture and found a new way of thinking about eating with intuitive eating.
What is Intuitive Eating? Intuitive eating (IE) is a non-diet approach where you honor your hunger, stop tying morality to food choices and respecting your stomach when it is full. Honestly, I feel like intuitive eating just means eat like you were made to do. When you think about it that’s all it is. IE says when you are hungry you eat and stop thinking about whether food is “good” or “bad”. I didn’t realize how much war I had with food because of diet culture. I was afraid to eat carbs, sweets, fats, well pretty much everything. Diet culture gives you so many rules when it comes to eating that results in some people hating food altogether and yourself if you did eat that “bad” food. When certain foods are labeled bad when you eat them you label yourself bad and feel so guilty.
For some people even just feeling hungry makes you feel guilty or stressed out because then its time to go to war with food and yourself. Dieting equals restricting. When you restrict certain foods your body naturally wants what you are depriving. In the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, they talk about how our body naturally sends us a hunger signal because it wants energy. Energy mostly comes from eating carbohydrates. You all know what diet culture stays about carbs basically to stay away. Rules like turning away the bread basket when you go to a restaurant or the diet that has you give up carbs altogether. Tell me how giving up carbs altogether is healthy if that is what our body needs for energy? The reason people drop weight on a no carb diet or low carb diet as said in the book is that our body starts to eat its own protein tissues.
Think about the times you’ve been on a diet. When you restricted didn’t you crave what you were restricting even more? Even when you are not dieting when you skip meals your body starts getting intense cravings and usually for carbs because it wants energy. I know for me since I tied morality with food choices I would skip eating because only “bad” food was around so I chose to go without eating because I didn’t want to eat the bad food. Later I would binge eat and still make a “bad” choice because I was so hungry and said screw it then I felt guilty. Now when I have situations like that where I can’t eat until later I eat it no matter what it is so I can honor my hunger. It is such a vicious cycle when you are on yo yo diets physically and mentally. Diet culture is not self-care at all it is only made for short-term satisfaction and weight loss, not long-lasting health which it makes you believe.
Benefits of Intuitive Eating. The #1 benefit, in my opinion, is that you get to eat! Yay! No restricting, no counting calories, no labeling food good or bad food. The label I put on food now is fuel. If my body says it wants fuel I will give it fuel. I’ve only been acquainted with intuitive eating for a little under a year, but I started practicing it for about a couple of months now. I feel so much more stress-free and less guilty and just see eating as a normal function. I also feel satisfied when I get to eat what I want. I know the fear a lot of people have is binging because if you eat what you want you to picture yourself eating like a glutton. When you finally let go of the guilt because you don’t label food good or bad you don’t’ feel like you need to binge. People usually binge when they deprive themselves of what they really want and what their body needs. This is not the case with intuitive eating you must learn to trust yourself and your body. Diet culture has told us what to eat and made sure to make us feel like we can’t trust our own damn body. With trusting your own body, you feel ok to eat more often which is better metabolically. It is best to not go without food for more than 5 hours. Snacking is not bad and keeps your body energized so you won’t binge later.
Then when you get to a place where you are finally are at peace with food you can clarify your emotions associated with eating. Women especially struggle with emotional eating because of hormones due to PMS or our menstrual cycle. Being at peace with eating you can become aware of your eating habits and realize a lot better if you are eating because you are sad, angry or bored. Again, this is a process of becoming aware of who you are what makes you emotionally eat but you can’t be at war with food to figure that out.
Learn &Trust the Process. It is so important that you read the book Intuitive Eating to really become knowledgeable about how dieting negatively affects you as well as learning about intuitive eating. With myself trying intuitive eating for a couple months has been tough because all my life I’ve listened to diet culture and others tell me how I should eat. The only people who really need to diet are those who have health issues or certain athletes. If your goal is to lose weight or manage your weight learning how to eat properly without restricting will give you those benefits because your eating habits will become better. As with anything I talk about this will be a journey. You will have to fight your diet police voice that is in your head making you feel shame about eating certain foods. You will feel like going back to dieting because it seems “easier” than getting to know your body and yourself. I know because I am going through that and it's especially hard when diet culture is all around you. You will feel like you just want to go back and join in because you feel like an outcast for wanting to eat food regardless if its labeled good or bad.
The goal of anything is to live life how you want it. Don’t give in to the propaganda that you are not good enough stay focused on what is important to you. If you are reading this something inside of you knows that dieting is not a way of life for you and that you want to learn how to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. You can make a truce with food and your body. It takes time and lots of self-care and compassion. Please follow our social media accounts @masterselflove for support there are many women like you who have had enough of diet culture and the fake beauty standards. Together we will be stronger and live our best lives!
What do you fear about trying intuitive eating?