My journey into Intuitive Eating

Autumn pancakes on plate

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez via Unsplash

When I first heard about Intuitive Eating I was a little sceptical, doesn’t it just mean eating whatever you want all the time? Why does this need to be a ‘movement’? Surely there are some health implications for this?

After some serious sarcastic eye rolls and a lot of research later, I discovered Intuitive Eating was much more than that.

Intuitive Eating helps us to develop a happy and healthy relationship with food and teaches us to listen to what our body wants. It stops us from starving and restricting ourselves and helps us to quit binging and overeating for good.

Most importantly, Intuitive Eating sticks its middle finger up to diet culture and refuses to accept it as the norm; instead it encourages you make peace with food and find complete and utter pleasure in eating once again. Sounds great, right?

You can see why I was seduced by Intuitive Eating, but there’s more to it than just cracking open a pack of biscuits and chomping away. In fact, Intuitive Eating has its own set of core principles.

Here are a few of my favourites (because if I went into them all this blog would turn into a book):

Reject the diet mentality

Don’t you think it’s shocking how diet culture has become such a normal part of our society?

Just pick up any beauty magazine and count how many times it mentions weight loss or body transformations. Listen in on people’s conversations and hear how many people are scorning themselves for not ‘being good’ and restricting themselves.

The first step to Intuitive Eating is to reject diet culture by staying away from media that tells you that you need to lose weight to be worthwhile. Avoid diet chat, people that constantly talk about losing weight. I know this may be difficult, so instead of avoiding people you could try not engaging in the conversation when they bring it up.  

Make peace with food

Food is food; it’s not good and it’s not bad. It’s simply fuel that helps you survive.

Although some food is more beneficial to our bodies than others, think blueberries and walnuts, other foods are just enjoyable to eat, mac n cheese and doughnuts here’s looking at you, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. By following Intuitive Eating, you are giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and not restrict yourself. After all, restriction leads to bingeing and that fosters guilt. Aim to eat foods that make you feel good and offer yourself kind nutritional advice that helps instead of critiques your food choices.

Deal with your Feelings without using food

I’m an emotional eater, always have been. Whenever something happens in my life I turn to food. Whether its sadness, boredom, stress, anxiety, loneliness– I will find a food for that. But eating for an emotional hunger will only make us feel worse in the long run. Once you’ve finished eating, the source of the emotion will still be there, plus the the discomfort of overeating. Find ways to overcome your issues without using food.

Respect your body

Respect your body and embrace the person that you are. As I discussed in this post, it’s important to celebrate our differences and embrace different body shapes. It’s hard to completely reject diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body.

Exercise

You can be body positive and love exercise!

Focus on how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If your only motivation is to lose weight and you consistently put yourself through gruelling sessions, your enjoyment of exercise will quickly be exhausted and you’ll end up hating it.

As you can see, Intuitive Eating is a really positive way to think about food and I am trying to embrace it as much as I can. Since learning about body positivity, I have altered the way I think about eating and the effect diet culture has on my mental health. Although undoing a lifetime of diet culture won’t come easily, I am proud to say that I am making progress and being less critical of myself and my body.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to learn more about Intuitive Eating I found this site helpful when learning about the core principles of Initiative Eating (it includes all 10).

Hannah