On to the third principle of Intuitive Eating! I love this one - it was one of the more powerful principles for me personally. I can't describe the freedom that came from my own truce with food.
From intuitiveeating.org: Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
The idea of unconditional permission to eat is often met with defensiveness and fear. People believe (often because the diet industry has convinced them), that if they give themselves permission to eat all of their "forbidden/cheat/off limits foods," they will literally never stop eating. Here's the amazing thing about our body - if we remove the scarcity issue (related to dieting and restriction), all of those foods that seemingly hold A LOT of power over us just don't anymore. Foods that made you feel out of control will eventually sit there for months at a time; untouched and without angst. The compulsion to EAT ALL THE FOOD will slowly but surely subside.
When your brain and body start to trust that you will in fact feed it consistently and appropriately, you will be able to start to trust it to tell you when and what you are hungry for, how much to eat and how to feel satisfied. It's really a beautiful thing.
I answered some questions about how this principle can be applied to feeding kids and families. Check it out here:
Next up is principle #4: Challenge the Food Police........
After you've rejected the diet mentality and let go of the idea that the next diet will be "the one," it's time to start tuning into your bodies' signals.
The second principle of Intuitive Eating is to honor your hunger. From intuitiveeating.org: Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
Here's the thing - we are biologically designed to seek out and eat food. It keeps us alive. Our hunger is the signal that our body uses to let us know it's time to eat. Diets/eating plans/lifestyle changes tell us that either we can't in fact trust our hunger signals, or that we should simply ignore them.
Our hunger is well regulated if we respect it. Sometimes we will be more hungry, sometimes we will be less hungry. Our bodies are brilliant and can account for differing amounts of food and physical activity if we listen. Despite what the diet and fitness industry wants us to believe we CAN trust it.
If you've been a dieter or followed food rules for any period of time it may be difficult to tune back into your hunger signals, but it can be done. Try checking out the different signals your body uses to tell you it's time to eat.
Stay tuned for principle #3: make peace with food.......
The first principle of Intuitive Eating is "reject the diet mentality." It's first because if we can't identify all of the diet thoughts and food rules we will never be able to truly tune into our bodies' signals.
The diet mentality or "dieting mind" comes out of diet culture. Diet culture is all around us. We literally swim around in diet culture all day everyday, and we don't even know it!
There are so many aspects to diet culture that I find it difficult to explain them all here - but here is my take: let me start by saying that diet culture is harmful. There is no denying this. It encourages body dissatisfaction, increases risk and incidence of disordered eating and eating disorders and, keeps the multi billion dollar diet industry in business simply by telling us that we should hate ourselves.
Diet culture values weight and body shape (aesthetics) over actual health and well-being. Diet culture makes you believe that if you just "do it right," all will be right with you and the world. If you could just maintain your self-control and suppress your weight to societys' acceptable standard you will have health, happiness, wealth - generally everything wrong with your life will magically change and be perfect.
This is why it's so intoxicating - it's sold by people who fit "the beauty ideal," and makes us believe that we too can fit that same ideal if we just do what they do. This is like saying if we just train like LeBron, we'll magically play like LeBron.
This list is by no means complete, but if you can identify any of these thoughts or behaviors, it's very likely that you have some aspects of the diet mentality (of course you do - it's nearly impossible not to in our society). The key is to identify and dismantle these thoughts.
Reject the diet mentality to create a strong foundation for your intuitive eating practice . You must identify the dieting mind in order to be able to tune back in and finally be a .....
Next time in Intuitive Eating 101: principle 2 "honor your hunger."
Intuitive Eating was a term coined in the 90's by two brilliant women named Elyse Resch MS, RDN, CEDRD, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND and Evelyn Tribole MS,RD. They realized after working in the field of Nutrition for years that what they were doing just wasn't working. Their clients were frustrated, feeling guilty that "they weren't doing it right," and the interventions just simply weren't working LONG-TERM. All of these factors caused them to go in a different direction. They looked at the research and took their own experience as professionals and decided to write and develop Intuitive Eating.
Intuitive Eating is a way of relating to food and our bodies that relies on internal signals, self-care and compassion; combined with the rejection of the diet mentality and shame that typically comes along with the "diet, lifestyle, macro counting, meal-plan, clean-eating" that our culture typically subscribes to.
Here's the thing - there is no one right way to eat. There simply isn't. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something. That's the beauty of Intuitive Eating. Everyone has different internal signals, food likes and dislikes and feelings of satisfaction when it comes to eating. This way of relating to food uses all of that information.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
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. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
10. Honor Your Health
The principles are laid out in this order on purpose. It's nearly impossible to identify hunger and fullness cues or even what feels satisfying if you haven't worked on the diet mentality and food police.
Imagine a world where food took its rightful place in your life. Where it was something that brought you pleasure and satisfaction, rather than consumed your every waking moment with confusion and dread.
Stay tuned for more explanation on each principle....