Image: @elmundoderabbitlpBabies are an awesome example of intuitive eaters. They let you know when they’re hungry, and they stop when they’re full. We were all born this way. Sadly, diet culture and society tries to get us to stray from this at an early age.
Dieting has become such a large part of culture that the idea of intuitive eating seems kind of weird. How can we just trust ourselves to eat what we want when we want? That’s insane! That’s was pretty much my thought on intuitive eating when I heard about it for the first time about three years ago.
Other people can eat intuitively. But I can’t. I’m different. That would never work for me. I have to control it.
The thing is, I’m not different! I’m not that “special”. Intuitive eating can work for everyone. Finally getting my hands on the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch showed me that. There is so much awesome information in that book! It is truly life changing.
However, the book also explains how intuitive eating can work within the context of eating disorder recovery. For example, if you are just beginning to recovery from anorexia, your hunger and fullness signals may be off due to delayed stomach emptying. At this point, you probably shouldn’t begin intuitive eating yet. Intuitive eating can come into the picture later in the recovery process though.
While I really wish I could just read the entire book to all of you, here are eight of my biggest take-aways from reading the book.
Made me evaluate why I turn to food
It wasn’t news to me that I sometimes turn to food when I’m not physically hungry. However, I had never challenged myself to consider why I do this. I now know that I have a tendency to want to turn to food when I really just want to rest, when I feel flustered or overwhelmed, or when I’m tired.
Knowing this has helped me find ways to meet my real needs. For example, I’ve been building in times throughout my day to relax and read a book on the couch. I’ve realized that I’ve often used food as an excuse to relax, but that I can allow myself to relax without food when I’m not hungry.
Helped me recognize the ways I hold onto the diet mentality
The diet mentality is way sneakier than you think. You can hold onto the diet mentality without feeling like you’re actually on a diet. I’ve realized that I have a tendency to have a “last supper” mentality with certain foods.
Gave me a helpful tool to evaluate hunger and fullness
The hunger and fullness scale has been a super helpful tool for me! Evaluating your hunger level before and after eating is a great way to see patterns and learn to honor your hunger cues. For example, you might find yourself waiting to eat until you’re very hungry, and see that when you do this you eat until you are at the height of the fullness scale.
My favorite way to keep track of this is to use the Rise Up app and add my hunger level before and after eating to the notes section.
Helped me recognize the “food police”
The food police is all about the inner voice that you have around food. The book gives a ton of helpful tools to change the dialogue in your head and get rid of the food police for good.
Introduced me to the reasons why intuitive eating works
I really enjoyed reading the scientific aspects of why dieting doesn’t work and why intuitive eating does work. Knowing the why behind something is a powerful aspect. Trust me, intuitive eating is the way to go! It may take time and effort if you’ve strayed from it, but intuitive eating is worth the effort!
Reminded me to respect my body
The book reminded me that it’s important to respect my body. Bodies are smart. If you give them the chance, they’ll let you know what foods you need, when to eat, and when you’re full.
It doesn’t make sense to not listen to your body’s hunger cues for as long as possible and then overstuff it with food. I wouldn’t tell someone else to do that to their body! So, I shouldn’t do it to mine either. Part of intuitive eating is respecting your body and it’s natural cues.
Gave me tools to cope with emotions without using food
There is an entire chapter in the book dedicated to helping you evaluate how you may be using food as a coping mechanism as well as ways to meet these needs without food. I found the list of activities and ideas to be a great starting point to inspire me to create my own list of ways to deal with my emotions and needs without using food.
Some of my favorites have been listening to music, decorating my planner, reading, getting rest, and talking to friends. When you can figure out how you may be using food to cope, it becomes easier to recognize what you true needs are and to meet them in a more productive way.
Inspired me to have hope and faith
I’m getting there, but I don’t have it all figured out yet. This book gave me hope that restoring my body’s ability to truly eat intuitively is possible.
We were all born with the ability to eat intuitively. Somewhere along the way (some earlier than others) we turned away from our natural ability to listen to hunger and fullness cues and eat intuitively.
However, we can get it back!