Updated: Sep 29, 2021
What You Can Expect To Gain From Reading This Post
1. The basic concepts of Intuitive Eating
2. Clarity about intuition in general
3. Increased awareness of your own relationship with food
What Brought You Here?
If you are interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating, it’s likely that you have reached a state of awareness that something is not working for you. That “something” could be years of chronic dieting, dissatisfaction with your body, preoccupation with food, or a general unsettled feeling surrounding your food life and/or your body. You may feel like you’ve tried everything and just can’t reach a state of symbiosis with yourself. If you are ready to stop doing all the things that don’t help and focus inward to heal your relationship with food and your body, you are in the right place. If you are ready to be present with yourself and your food story, let’s get started!
What’s A Food Story?
I call your food story all of your self-talk (helpful or not) related to your food life. Some you may be aware of, some may be so automatic you are not even aware of it yet. Your food story has been shaped by yourself and by input from others and your environment.
Here are some examples:
-I need to eat everything on my plate because children in other countries are starving.
-I never stop to eat lunch.
-I’m an open-minded eater and give new things a try.
-I can’t have that because I’m too…...fat, skinny, ugly, etc.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is the framework I use to help you heal your food story. It is designed to help you heal your relationship with food and your body by exploring and deepening your awareness around these 10 principles:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honor Your Hunger
3. Make Peace With Food
4. Challenge the Food Police
5. Respect Your Fullness
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7. Cope With Your Feelings Without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise--Feel The Difference
10. Honor Your Health--Gentle Nutrition
Intuitive Eating is also…
A PHILOSOPHY that all of us have the potential to be self-experts if we learn to trust our bodies and their signals.
A PROCESS that will assist you in ridding the “shackles” of dieting.
A PRACTICE of boundary setting that has the potential to influence other areas of your life.
What Intuitive Eating Is NOT!
A DIET, although it can be made into one if used in a harmful way.
FAST, these concepts take practice and patience.
EASY, if you are dealing with a long and painful food story it can be challenging to change your approach.
FINITE, it does not have a clear endpoint but rather embodies a lifelong commitment to self-care.
Intuitive Eating Can Help You If…
You are willing to put weight loss on the back burner and prioritize healing your relationship with food and your body.
You are completely burned out from a history of dieting.
You would like to reconnect with a more genuine side of yourself.
You want to gain clarity in your food life.
How Does Your Intuitive Eating Self Get Lost?
Your intuitive eating self can get lost when you choose to replace your internal food compass for external sets of rules following in the hope that you will lose weight or “feel more in control” of your food life. You likely become consumed by black and white/all or nothing thinking in your food life. Perhaps it starts as a mental decision or practice but over time there can be physical consequences such as losing touch with your ability to notice when you are hungry or full.
How Do You Reconnect With Your Intuitive Eating Self?
Reconnecting with your intuitive eating self starts with awareness. How long your journey takes depends on how entrenched your diet thinking is, how long you’ve been using food to cope with life, how willing you are to trust yourself, and how willing you are to make weight loss secondary and reconnecting with your intuitive eater primary. If you have ever recovered from a physical injury, you may be familiar with the normal twists and turns involved in the healing process. There is a gentle direction towards improvement, but the trajectory is not linear.
Your journey may also involve these steps:
1. Readiness: You are ready to give up external rule following.
2. Exploration: You are willing to experiment and explore with curiosity and without judgement.
3. Crystallization: The concepts you explore start to take more form.
4. Awaken: You notice more consistency in your eating experiences.
5. Trust & Repeat: You trust your body's ability to look after its food needs and enjoy your eating experiences.
Let’s Talk About Intuition
I describe intuition as the part of you that always has your back, is aligned with good self-care, and keeps the bigger picture in mind. Your intuition also includes that part of you that is able to hold space for yourself while you experiment, link new experiences like puzzle pieces, and integrate these pieces into a new system that serves you better than something previous.
Intuition is kind but firm. It respects when it’s time to STOP, but also knows when it’s time to START. I think of it as an internal traffic light.
Your intuition is able to listen without judgement and accept painful experiences without struggle.
Your intuition might say...
“This does not feel right”
“I’m not sure why, but I need to stop”
“I don’t trust…”
It typically starts with a feeling or sensation in your body, that your brain may not yet have words for. Ultimately, your intuition is aligned with a deep respect for the realities of life and all the nuances that make you and your situation 100% unique. Aligning with intuition not only in your food life, but in all areas of your life is far more grounded than taking advice, following rules, or making decisions without intuition in charge. Listening to your intuition is a whole body experience. It requires every cell of you to be present.
Intuition is the driving force that is able to identify the foundational elements of something you are good at and generalize these elements so they can be applied to something you find challenging. It’s your process that will define your outcome not only with eating intuitively, but with anything you do with full-body presence.
I recently had a chat with a close friend and former Intuitive Eating student of mine where we discuss this idea of process defining outcome. She is a professor at a university in the teacher education department and is a great example of someone who is very skilled at something, in this case her job, and still at times feels challenged by her history of external rule following in her food life. She serves as a great reminder that ANYONE can feel challenged in this area of their life and sometimes success in another area of life simply amplifies the shame and self-expectation one feels in their food story.
What’s Your Eating Style?
One way to spark awareness and begin your intuitive eating journey is to start noticing your current eating style. Take a moment to identify which eating style below you most identify with.
10 Questions To Spark Awareness In Your Food Story
After identifying your eating style, you may also find it helpful to take the time to explore your level of awareness a but further. I’ve put together a handout of 10 questions to spark awareness for you. You can download the handout from my free resource library.
Hopefully this information helps you begin a new and rewarding journey in your food life.
Yours In Health,
E. Tribole & E. Resch. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. New York. 2003.