It’s week 3 of my 10 week series diving into the principles of Intuitive Eating. To receive weekly emails about this series please sign up here.
I think it’s a perfect time to talk about the 3rd principle of Intuitive Eating; Make Peace with Food. We have just had Thanksgiving and Christmas is upon us in just a few weeks.
Holidays can be really triggering for people who are dieting, or think they “should” diet.
They are also very triggering for people with disordered eating. I can’t tell you how many holidays I’ve spent overly consumed thinking about the food I was going to be surrounded by and how I was going to handle it.
I used to put a lot of pressure on myself that I needed to try to lose weight before seeing family or friends because I didn’t want anyone to think I’d gotten fat.
Can I tell you how hard that is for me to share with you? Can I also tell you how vain I feel saying it? The reason I am saying it though is because I know, without a doubt, that I am not alone in that thinking. What I can tell you though is if you want to relieve yourself of the pressure of always having to measure up to everyone else’s expectation of you, there is a way to do it.
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?
“Intuitive eating is a dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion and rational thought. It is a personal process of honoring your health by paying attention to the messages of your body and meeting your physical and emotional needs. It is an inner journey of discovery that puts you front and center; you are the expert of your own body. After all, only you know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Only you know how hungry you are and what food or meal will satisfy you.”
This definition is from the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and each one helps heal your relationship with food and your body.
10 PRINCIPLES OF INTUITIVE EATING
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor your Hunger
- Make Peace with 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- Gentle Nutrition
When they talk about making peace with food in the Intuitive eating book, they spend a lot of time talking about how when we restrict foods, it actually makes us crave it even more.
“When you rigidly limit the amount of food you are allowed to eat, it usually sets you up to crave larger quantities of that very food” Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
I have a lot of experience with restricting food, therefore causing me to crave it even more.
One food that I always really struggled with was peanut butter.
When I was dieting, I used to become so frustrated at how quickly my daily allotment of food would decrease when I incorporated peanut butter. I still had it, but there were many times I overindulged because I’d subconsciously created scarcity surrounding it.
I went as far as making my husband hide the peanut butter in our house (multiple times actually) because once I started having it I couldn’t stop eating it. I thought I was being “good” by having him hide it or not even buying it at the store. What I realize now after learning more about intuitive eating is that I had actually made it a forbidden food. Therefore, I created a food that I wanted in excess simply because I didn’t give myself unconditional permission to have it.
Want to know how tempting peanut butter is to me now that I’ve embraced intuitive eating?
Not at all.
Some days I have it.
Some days I don’t.
But, I never binge on it anymore or feel anxious about how much I’ve had, because I know I can have however much I want.
I’ve learned that spoonful after spoonful simply makes me feel terrible. Now, I put some on a slice of bread and that’s enough for me. It leaves me satisfied and ironically, I don’t usually need any more than that. Imagine my surprise after years of this food having control over me.
The process of making peace with food can take time depending on how many foods you have had on your “forbidden list”. They recommend taking one food at a time and making peace with it.
How do you make peace with food?
The following steps are directly out of the Intuitive Eating Book and I highly recommend reading it if you want more information on these principles and the steps you can take towards peace with food and your body.
- Pay attention to the foods that are appealing to you and make a list of them.
- Put a check by the foods you actually do eat, then circle remaining foods that you’ve been restricting.
- Give yourself permission to eat one forbidden food from your list, then go to the store and buy this food, or order it at a restaurant.
- Check in with yourself to see if the food tastes as good as you imagined. If you find that you really like it, continue to give yourself permission to buy or order it.
- Make sure that you keep enough of the food in your kitchen so that you know that it will be there if you want it. Or if that seems too scary, go to a restaurant and order the particular food as often as you like.*Once you make peace with one food, continue on with your list until all the foods are tried, evaluated and freed.
This process will take the desire away from the foods you have been restricting. The first few times you do it you may overindulge or binge on them… you are NOT a failure if you do this. But, if you continue to allow yourself to have it, I think what you will find is that particular food will lose it’s power over you.
Dieting is not sustainable and neither is binge eating.
After a while our bodies say NO MORE. In the beginning of Intuitive Eating many people give up because they are feeling like they are eating too much… this feeling passes. It may take weeks, or several months, but it should pass if you are really tuning into your hunger and fullness cues.
To become successful at Intuitive Eating you must also become attuned to your body’s satiety cues.
You can trust yourself to become an Intuitive Eater. Once you strip away the layers of diet culture and rules, your body truly knows what it wants. It may take time to get there, but you can absolutely regain trust with your body and with food. Your body is so smart and it can tell you exactly what it needs if you allow it to.