The Clean & Dirty On Intuitive Eating
What if your body just instinctively knew what to eat and in what amounts to keep you healthy and satisfied? How about if you never had to worry about your weight again, restrict foods, or had to diet?
What if you gave yourself permission to eat whatever you wanted and remain at a healthy weight? Take a moment and think about what that would feel like.
Does it sound too good to be true?! Well, those things I listed are basically the intention behind intuitive eating. The subject of intuitive eating is a semi-controversial subject in the health world, and one that I’m, admittedly, torn on.
THE CLEAN & DIRTY ON INTUITIVE EATING
Intuitive eating was developed by a duo of dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995 after years of working with patients with eating disorders.
It is part of the Anti-Diet movement and is made up of 10 Principles that revolve around giving yourself full permission to eat.
Basically, it’s calling out the diet culture and the impossible body standards that have been shoved down our throats.
It’s saying sayonara to the guilt, shame, and restrictions that we’ve placed on eating most, if not all, of our lives.
It is trusting in your body’s ability to let you know when you’re actually hungry and when you’re full, what you’re really hungry for, and is all about letting yourself feel satisfied from food instead of feeling deprived or guilty.
Intuitive eating is essentially bringing pleasure back to eating.
WHEN IT DOESN’T WORK
Let’s get one thing straight, intuitive eating is not a diet. You cannot succeed at intuitive eating or fail at it. Instead, it is a journey to rediscovering the connection between your mind and body.
It is also not an excuse to go eat whatever you want.
The idea is that when you stop restricting and depriving yourself of certain foods, your body will naturally lead you towards the foods that are the healthiest and most nourishing options because it’s what your body intuitively needs.
After years of conflicting and misinformation (thanks to the health industry), people are more disconnected than ever with their bodies and food. We have no idea what to eat anymore! (Raise your hand if you agree!)
The idea of intuitive eating is about getting rid of the “good” and “bad’ labels surrounding food and the shame and guilt associated with it.
CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT WITH INTUITIVE EATING?
According to the creators of intuitive eating, you may lose weight, gain weight, or remain the same on your journey to food freedom. The point of this lifestyle is to completely give up the desire to control your weight.
They even say that if anyone tries to consult you on losing weight through intuitive eating that you should “run, fast!”
They say that your body will naturally align and keep you at a weight that is healthy for your body without any effort.
That weight may be higher than what you think it should be, but they remain strong in the idea that your body knows what’s best.
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE TO INTUITIVE EATING
I want to 100% love and support this idea, and I do think it’s great for those suffering from eating disorders or those with very disordered behaviors around food and body image.
However, I think for most of us who want to live a healthy lifestyle and get in better shape, that a personalized nutrition and health education approach is ultimately the way to go.
I feel it can be slightly destructive to promote this lifestyle to anyone and everyone no matter where they are in their health journey.
Without proper education on what our food is (more food-like substance than real food), eating solely for pleasure can lead to some serious health issues.
Processed foods are designed to be uber-palatable, and they hijack your body’s inner knowledge to control hunger and cravings.
THE HEALTH CLAIM CIRCUS
Deceiving health claims and gimmicky slogans for foods such as “All Natural”, “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”, and “Heart Healthy” lead consumers to believe that these processed, nutrient-poor foods are healthy.
Things like insulin and leptin resistance cause your body to be unable to sense its hunger and fullness cues.
Blood sugar imbalance leads you to crave sugary, carb-heavy foods that your body may not respond well to.
This is exactly why you can eat a large meal for lunch and then be exhausted and starving for something sweet twenty minutes later.
SHOULD WE STOP DIETING?
Absolutely! “Dieting” in the traditional sense of the word, where you restrict calories and certain foods, should definitely be ditched. Diets don’t work, and they can actually make you gain weight in the long run. (#sorrynotsorry)
I am a firm believer in the fact that you need to love yourself no matter what!
If you don’t learn to connect with your body where you are currently, then no amount of weight loss will ever fill that void.
I also think that once you’ve reached that level of self-love and connection, that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pursue bigger goals when it comes to losing unhealthy fat and changing your body composition. (As long as you have a healthy mindset around it!)
The idea of losing weight is not always negative. Currently, in America, 70% of adults are overweight with almost 40% of those being obese, and one out of every two adults also has a preventable, chronic illness.
The health crisis that we’re suffering from needs to be addressed just as much as the impossible body standards and diet culture. As with everything in health and life, balance is what we’re truly striving for.
HEALTH COACH SUGGESTIONS
There are some great foundations to intuitive eating that you can start implementing right away!
I highly recommend working with a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTNC) to start your journey back to health.
Take some time to answer these questions…
Start to reconnect with your body! Pay attention to when you eat and how much. Are you tired or over-stressed?
Pay attention to how you feel after you eat. Are you hungry 30 minutes after you eat, uncomfortably full, or did you break out the next day?
Learn to love your body, as is. Right now — just the way you are!
My biggest concern with Intuitive Eating is the enormous amount of self-awareness that it takes. I consider myself a pretty “woke” person with a lot of self-awareness (stop laughing at that!), but throughout the whole process of researching this topic, I found that I kept scratching my head and asking “but what about this?” and “how can you do that?”
Intuitive eating requires extensive education, guidance, coaching, and support. As a certified Health Coach, I genuinely feel it is not for a beginner who is just starting out on their journey to health.
In my eyes, a balance between intuitive eating and food education will truly help address our health epidemic.
Let me know your thoughts on Intuitive Eating in the comments!