A common misconception with Intuitive Eating is that nutrition doesn’t really matter. That is absolutely not true, but there is a reason that Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the authors of Intuitive Eating, saved this for the last principle.
Before a person can tackle their nutrition, they really need to heal their relationship with food first.
That’s why there are nine principles prior to discussing what should be on your plate.
This is “backwards” from diet culture that starts with what should be on your plate and then adds in other areas to focus on. What happens though is most people stay so focused on the “program” that they lose their sense of intuition that they need to properly care and listen to their bodies.
As a recap here are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with your food
- Challenge the food police
- Feel your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Cope with your emotions without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise- feel the difference
- Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Every single one of these principles plays a key role in healing your relationship with food and your body.
I believe that the process of honoring your health with gentle nutrition shouldn’t even be looked at until you have addressed the other principles. Otherwise, it’s going to feel like a diet… and remember, principle #1 to reject the diet mentality!
There is no “perfect way to eat”.
The way I honor my body WILL look different than the way you honor yours. No one is put on a pedestal for doing intuitive eating better than someone else. It’s a process that is always evolving as you age and grow and life changes around you.
Here are some of the most helpful statements in this particular chapter of the Intuitive Eating book
- Unless you have a lethal food allergy or medical condition, such as celiac disease- one bite of food, one meal, or one day of eating will not make or break your health or waistline.
- Our experience has shown that the more a person focuses on a number, the more it interferes with the process of listening to the body.
- If a healthy relationship with food is not in place, it’s difficult to truly pursue healthy eating.
- Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior based on your eating choices. Eating selection is not a reflection of your character.
- Balance is intended to be achieved over a period of time- it does not have to be at each and every meal.
How to Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
I want to repeat myself, please do not start with this principle. Take the time and energy to really explore the other 9 principles before beginning to pay closer attention to what is on your plate. If you aren’t truly ready for this step it’s going to feel like a diet, and instead, I want you to feel excited about how you can feel your best.
- Eat enough fruits and vegetables- make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Eat enough fish
- Drink enough fluids- primarily water
- Include nutrient dense foods, protein rich foods, quality fats and whole foods.
Does this mean I can never eat “junk food”?
Absolutely not. What I think you will find though is when you fill your body with foods that make it FEEL good, the desire to eat foods high in sugar and fat, etc. aren’t nearly as appealing as they once were.
I have a great example for this. When I was losing weight on a diet program not long ago, I would save a lot of calories for a high protein ice cream every night. Most nights I’d try to only have a serving or two, but I had a really hard time stopping myself and usually ended up eating the entire pint.
Today, I might have ice cream 1-2 nights a week, if that. Ice cream lost it’s appeal when I told myself I could have it every day if I wanted to and started listening to my body and not having it every night “just because”. When I have it now, I really enjoy it. I’m also no longer buying only high protein ice cream, instead I buy my favorite flavor I really enjoy and just have a moderate serving.
You are the expert in your body.
Only YOU know how you feel when you eat certain foods.
Only YOU know if you are honoring your hunger.
A program or a list of foods cannot replace your natural intuition.
It may take you a long time to learn your body again if you’ve been relying on a diet program for a long time.
My advice is take as much time as necessary to heal your relationship with food and your body and you will get to live the rest of your life having peace with yourself and the food on your plate.
Thank you for allowing me to share my own personal journey in regards to the intuitive eating principles.
This is still a journey I am personally working through and I learn more every single day. I’ll never again claim that I have it all figured out, because I now know that life changes, and so do I. It’s an ever-changing process of learning how to listen to our bodies needs as we age and go through life.
It’s been a blessing to learn what my body needs, and actually listen to it for the first time I can remember.
It’s never too late to heal your relationship with food and your body.
You do not have to spend your life hating your body.
You can find happiness.
It takes some work and it takes some time… but there is freedom if you are willing to work towards it!