Updated: Jul 27, 2020
I have been dieting since I was sixteen years old, so the thought of not dieting was extremely foreign to me. I actually can’t think of a time in my life where I wasn’t eating on some kind of meal plan. Just thinking of that makes me sad. There are people in their sixties and seventies that are still dieting to this day. That’s crazy! I used to tell people that when I turned sixty I was going to eat cake for breakfast every day. That’s twenty-six years away!
I am thankful that I don’t think that way anymore and nowadays when I feel like eating cake, I eat cake.
I can’t remember how I found Intuitive Eating, but it was probably in the middle of the night during my late night searches for help that I stumbled upon it. You know those nights, where you lie in bed scrolling in the dark in search of answers only to end up on Amazon looking at things you will never buy.
When I heard about Intuitive Eating I thought that it was just going to be another diet plan and boy was I wrong. Intuitive Eating was founded by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. Evelyn Tribole said “Essentially, Intuitive Eating is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.” What is Intuitive Eating? | Evelyn Tribole If you would like to hear straight from the founders then head on over via the link, but I will do my best to explain what Intuitive Eating is here and in a less formal way.
Firstly I would like to tell you what Intuitive Eating means to me. Intuitive Eating to me is the freedom to eat without guilt or shame. Intuitive Eating is the ability to honor my hunger and cravings without deprivation or restriction. Intuitive Eating to me is removing any body shame that I used to hold on to. I don’t look at food and think how it will affect my body in terms of its size. Food has become just food.
With all that said I will now go over the ten principles.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Reject diet mentality
2. Honor your hunger
3. Make peace with food
4. Challenge the food police
5. Discover the satisfaction factor
6. Feel your fullness
7. Cope with your emotions with kindness
8. Respect your body
9. Movement- Feel the difference
10. Honor your health- Gentle nutrition
I know this is a lot but I promise you that these ten steps will set you free. Once I accepted all of these principles into my life it was like putting glasses on for the first time. Everything became clear and I realized how the diet industry had been lying to me this entire time. Every year Americans spend more than $60 billion dollars on diet and weight loss products. I have contributed at least $480 dollars a year for my gym membership and that doesn’t include the annual membership fee of $39 dollars. If I had to estimate I would say I have spent upwards of $7,000 a year for close to 10 years on supplements, energy drinks and diet like foods. That’s a lot of money I could have been saving and putting towards something of value for my family and I.
What does it mean to Reject Diet Mentality? For me it was going through my house and throwing out all my diet books. I have never been a person that throws away books but there is no way I was going to donate books that have caused me so much pain over the years, so in the dumpster they went! In the grocery store check-out line I ignore the slew of magazine covers that promise me I will drop 25lbs in 25 days or eat this not that, and if no one is looking...I turn them around. If you think Intuitive Eating will help you lose weight you still have not rejected the diet mentality and thinking this way will prevent you from the true freedom that comes with Intuitive Eating.
What does it mean to Honor Your Hunger? We need to keep our bodies well fed so that we can perform normal functions throughout the day. When you feel hunger, allow yourself to sit with it for a moment. Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes, if you still feel hungry then have a meal. Sometimes hunger is actually your body needing water but by learning your body ques you will be able to decipher between the two. It's important that you don’t skip meals because this can lead to overeating at your next meal. Honoring your hunger is eating when you are hungry, stopping when you are full and feeling satisfied with the food you are eating.
What is Challenging The Food Police? This is all about challenging the thoughts that you have in your head. You know the ones...I shouldn’t eat that or if I eat that I will have to do extra cardio tomorrow. That's your eternal food police trying to make you feel bad for your food choices. You have to shut them up and turn them off! These thoughts stem from what mainstream media has been shoving down our throats for years. The food police are telling us certain foods are bad, off limits and will make us fat. We have been brainwashed into thinking there is only one type of beautiful and we must eat a certain way to attain that beauty. News flash...That’s Bull****! Your body is just that, YOUR BODY. Get rid of the negative thoughts and tune out the people that push you to eat a certain way.
What does it mean to Discover The Satisfaction Factor? I want you to think about Thanksgiving dinner. You and your family are gathered around the table, in the middle is a beautiful spread of roasted turkey, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, stuffing and all the other wonderful fixings that make it an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. You fill your plate with all your favorite foods and when you are done eating you feel satiated and satisfied. Everything about the meal was pleasing in so many ways. Now think about having to eat while you are driving between jobs. You are trying to open the wrapping to a sandwich with one hand while simultaneously trying to drive and not crash. Nothing about this experience is satisfying, even if the sandwich you were eating was your favorite. I know that it's impossible to have a sit down meal every time but it's important to try to eat in an environment that is pleasing. You will find that even a simple sandwich and your favorite chips eaten in place that you love becomes a very satisfying experience. Eating in environments that are pleasing offer some unique benefits. You tend to eat slower, you are able to enjoy each bite and you may find that you feel full before you hit the bottom of your chip bag. If you are rushing around trying to eat you end up cramming everything down as quickly as possible and a few minutes after you're done eating you feel that familiar uncomfortable fullness. Had you taken the time to sit down and enjoy your meal you would feel the ques your body is sending you. Slow down and enjoy your food. It will make a world of difference.
What does it mean to Feel Your Fullness? This was hard for me in the beginning. Ever since I was little I was always told to finish my plate. When I was into my eating disorder I felt compelled to eat everything even if I was full, for fear that I wouldn’t be able to eat that food again. When learning to feel your fullness it helps to pause every few bites to allow your body to feel the food in your stomach. In the beginning it also helps to remove any distractions at meal time. Turn off the tv and put away your phone. Enjoy your meal and listen to your body. You will begin to notice when you are feeling full and when this happens I want you to put your food in the fridge. If you feel hungry still in 15 minutes eat some more but know that it’s ok to not finish everything on your plate. You will be able to eat that food again, whenever you like.
What does it mean to Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness? If you are anything like I was then you use food to cope with a variety of emotions; like sadness, anger, frustration and even happiness or excitement. But, after eating something that fed my emotion I would feel bad and then get angry for eating whatever it was. The torment I would put myself through could last for hours and sometimes even days. When we have a hard day at work or we get in a fight with our spouse it’s a good idea to have a few moments to ourselves and take a few deep breaths. It’s vital to feel our emotions and to acknowledge them, but don’t dwell on them. Give yourself permission to feel that particular emotion for no more than 2 minutes. Once the time is up move on. There are other emotions that can contribute to either food restriction or bingeing and the biggest one I see plaguing people is BOREDOM. Right now we are going through some pretty intense times. A lot of people are out of work and quarantined in their homes and while some people have made a choice to take advantage of the great outdoors, many of us have made the choice to get most of our exercise walking to the fridge. When you find yourself blindly walking to the fridge stop and drink a glass of water or put on a YouTube video. Wait a few minutes and if you find that you are truly hungry then by all means eat that PB&J. What I am trying to convey to you is allow yourself to feel your emotions but don’t use food as your coping mechanism. You have to find a way to deal with whatever is going on because food is a short term fix and just like I mentioned earlier you could end up feeling worse. You can make a list of activities that are paired with a certain emotion to help you start learning how to deal with your emotions. One of my favorite ways to combat anger or sadness is music! Dancing takes all the anger and sadness away. Turn up the toons and dance like nobody’s watching.
What does it mean to Respect Your Body? This will probably be the hardest thing for you to do. For years we have been told that our bodies need to look a certain way in order to be seen as beautiful. I am here to tell you that is a load of BS. Your body is beautiful and perfect exactly how it is and at this very moment. God doesn’t make mistakes and when you say hurtful things about your body you're hurting God. How can you learn to reject diet mentality if you are still unsatisfied with your body? You can’t and it’s just that simple. I want you to think about all your body has done for you. Maybe you are a mom who is unhappy with how your belly is shaped. I want you to place your hands on your belly, close your eyes and remember that your belly carried your precious child for 9 months. It was those 9 months that you were able to grow, protect and nurture a child you were going to bring into this world. Your body was strong then and your body is strong now. When you think your thighs are too big I want you to remember that your legs have been carrying you across this life for however many years you’ve been on earth. My legs have been carrying me for nearly thirty-five years and I am so grateful that they have been capable of doing so. Begin to see how beautiful your body is but also remember your body does not equal your worth.
What is Movement- Feel The Difference? Exercise has also been shoved on us by mainstream media. You are no longer allowed to go into a gym just to workout because you like it. I left the gym for almost a year so I could heal my relationship to exercise and in early January 2020 I decided it was time to go back because I missed the way exercise made me feel. It wasn’t even a week after joining that I got a phone call from a trainer asking me what my goals were. I told her that I didn’t have any and that I just liked working out...she didn’t like that answer and our phone call ended abruptly. Don’t ever allow a trainer to force personal training on you or have you convinced that you need to set a goal of weight loss. That is unethical and your reason for going to the gym is your business. When you take weight loss out of the picture and just start moving in ways that make you feel good and energized exercise becomes enjoyable. If you never liked going to the gym...then stop going. Find something you enjoy doing whether that's playing tennis, swimming, golfing, yoga or the hundreds of other activities you can do to get your body moving. Doing something that you enjoy will keep you coming back. I believe strongly in movement and that it’s crucial in keeping our bodies healthy. Taking a 30 min walk a day strengthens bones, increases cardiovascular fitness, increases muscle power and endurance and also lowers your risk of heart disease. To learn more about the benefits of walking go to, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health.com
What does it mean to Honor Your Health- Gentle Nutrition? There are foods out there that when eaten make us feel really good; they provide amazing energy to keep us going throughout the day, and then there are foods that when eaten could put you straight to sleep. Honoring your health means eating foods that make you feel good on the inside and on the outside. We all want to eat foods that taste good and “healthy” foods don’t have to taste bland or bad. Learning how to cook meals that light up your tastebuds is key. No more eating plain steamed vegetables! Add some butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and toss all together and BOOM! You’ve got veggies your kids will love too. No more skipping dessert weeks on end because you have to be “good.” What does good even mean? There are no bad foods or good foods. It’s all just FOOD. Don’t restrict any food from your diet. Eat with confidence and eat out of nourishment for your body. It’s ok to have dessert, I promise.
I hope after reading this you feel inspired to start your journey to healing and recovering from whatever food or body judgments you may have. Don’t waste another day obsessing over your body or your next meal. Life is way too precious to let it slip by. It’s time to start taking control of your life and to start living it fully. I highly recommend you pick up the newest addition of Intuitive Eating. I will provide a link to amazon (not an affiliate link) to purchase the newest addition. www.amazon.com/dp/1250255198/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_i_D31hFbQQyTESQ.com
I have not restricted my food or been on a diet since reading this book nearly 2 years ago. I love sweets way too much to ever let them go again. Living in a diet free world is beautiful but it’s not always easy when your friends or family members are constantly following a new diet trend. They may try to tell you all about it and the best way to gracefully let them know you don’t want to hear about their new diet is to simply tell them you prefer to not talk about diets and you would rather spend time with them talking about other things. You may be nervous to tell them for fear their feelings might get hurt, but it’s time to start protecting your mental health and who knows they may even start asking you questions when they see you turning your life around. We can only hope!
You don’t have to diet another day in your life. Let go of the guilt and shame over the foods you eat. Begin to move your body in ways that feel nourishing and loving. Intuitive Eating saved my life and I know that sounds a little dramatic but that’s how serious I am. I will forever be grateful to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, my only regret is not finding this book sooner.
Dare to dream big and shine bright!