By Erin Laverty RDN, HAES Dietitian w/ENW
If you’re just starting (or contemplating starting) your intuitive eating journey, you may feel a little confused, worried, or completely overwhelmed. One of the most wonderful things about intuitive eating also makes it the trickiest to navigate— intuitive eating is free of rigid food rules.
The Core Principles of Intuitive Eating may sound great on paper, but applying them to your food choices can feel challenging! It’s completely normal during this process to have lots of questions or even doubts about your food decisions and relationship with food.
Let’s break down three common thoughts you may have as you work towards regaining trust with your body and eating intuitively.
Intuitive eating recognizes that a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, & lean proteins is important. Yet, it also provides choices about food, like enjoying “fun” foods. This type of lifestyle removes food restrictions, encourages you to manage stress and sleep levels, and add joyful movement into your daily routines. Practicing gentle nutrition is equally important as the types of food.
Intuitive eating means nourishing yourself in a way that feels good for your body and recognizing your physical hunger. Sometimes that means a hearty salad with lots of veggies. Other times, it means enjoying fresh-baked cookies out of the oven.
When you eat intuitively, you honor your hunger cues and fullness cues. You recognize that your hunger signals may fluctuate based on the day, activity levels, and even the time of the month.
Current research shows that intuitive eaters have higher self-esteem and better quality of life, reduced depression, and improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure and cardiorespiratory fitness. Intuitive eating is absolutely healthy!
Unfortunately, we live in a society that focuses on weight management as the golden truth to health. Diet culture emphasizes thinness and small bodies.
It’s completely valid to feel worried about how your body may change as you begin intuitive eating. Check out our recent blog post on how to reframe your thinking surrounding weight changes that may occur on this journey!
Key takeaway: if your body weight changes or if you gain weight when feeding it adequately and intuitively, it was meant to do so!
One principle of intuitive eating is giving yourself full permission to eat. Restrictive diet plans have labeled certain foods as “bad”, “unhealthy”, or as something you “can’t have in the house”. This gives food unnecessary power.
Instead, trust your body and allow yourself to enjoy ALL foods without guilt. You’ll see you’ve removed power away from certain foods. This won’t happen overnight.
If you have been depriving your body of specific foods you enjoy, you’ll likely eat more than usual as you reintroduce them. This is normal. It doesn’t mean you are a failure or doing intuitive eating wrong! It’s the body’s natural response to restriction.
As you continue with the non-diet approach, your food intake will change as you nourish your body adequately, regain and trust your hunger levels, and incorporate fun, pleasurable foods more often.
Intuitive eating can be messy! There will probably be difficulties on your journey. But there are also wonderful things to come.
If you continue onward, you will eventually:
Remember to give yourself grace in this process. Reach out to your support systems, whether it is your therapist, dietitian, or best friend. You got this!
For more support on your intuitive eating journey, check out our one of a kind 3 month group, The Wellness Revolution Book Club. Our next round starts October 1 and our goal is to help you create a healthier relationship with food just in time for the holidays! Don’t miss out…doors close September 30th. You can learn more and sign up HERE.