It’s week 2 of my 10 week series diving into the principles of Intuitive Eating. To receive weekly emails about this series please sign up here.
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
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
The second principle of Intuitive Eating is Honor Your Hunger.
“Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself and food”
The paragraph above is taken right out of the book Intuitive Eating and I think it is so important. The most important part of that paragraph for my own journey is, “Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself and food”
I am rebuilding trust with myself and food.
Honoring our hunger means we are not only paying attention to when we are physically hungry, but also paying attention to when we are satisfied and have had an adequate amount of food.
When I dieted I left it up to a program to tell me how much I should eat in a day.
Now, I am learning to trust my body and listen to what it needs, and every day it needs something different. Some days I am ravenous and some days I don’t need much fuel. It all levels out.
This has been hard to get used to, especially because I am currently pregnant. Being pregnant means I am hungrier than I may otherwise be, but it’s so important that I am listening to my body and honoring my hunger. If I am hungry, I need to feed my body, not only for myself, but for my baby.
When we don’t honor our hunger and we try to “ignore” it or “trick” ourselves, what usually ends up happening is we deny what our body physically needs which can lead to
- the urge to binge
- obsessive thoughts about food
Our bodies need energy and we receive energy by eating food.
It is ok to be hungry.
It is ok to eat when our body tells us it is hungry.
We do not need to “just drink more water” or “just get out of the kitchen” (lies I used to tell myself). Sometimes we need FOOD. Sometimes we do just need water or a walk, but on the days that our hunger is real, it’s ok, and we should, give it what it’s asking for.
I used to celebrate ignoring my hunger. I remember reading once that if we went to bed hungry it was our body releasing fat. When I was dieting, especially many years ago before I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder, and I went to bed hungry, I used to be proud of myself. This was usually before I had a weigh in or when I was trying to get “down” to a certain weight or if I’d had a binge the day before and was punishing myself by not fueling my body as much the following day.
The last time I lost weight (2015-2018) I did not go to bed hungry every night, but probably once a week or so. I had learned that my body needed more fuel even if that meant I needed to go over “points”. What happened though is sometimes I would feel guilt for eating those additional points and felt like I wasn’t doing the program the best I could have been. While I wasn’t restricting as badly as I was in years prior, I still wasn’t listening to my body the way it deserved, and the guilt was exhausting sometimes.
Looking back, I’m sad for that girl. I was denying my body what it actually needed and telling myself that if I just made it to the morning I’d like the number I saw on the scale.
The number on the scale was more important than caring for my body. Not anymore.
Honoring my hunger today looks like this
- Eating when I am physically hungry, and stopping when I am satisfied.
- Eating foods I actually enjoy and not eating foods I don’t enjoy just because they are “healthy”. (Brussels sprouts will most likely never be a food I enjoy for example)
- Not eating when I am overfull or not ready for a meal yet. This also means just because it’s a typical meal time doesn’t mean I always eat, I wait until my body is asking for nourishment.
- Taking care of myself in other ways such as sleep, water and exercise. I am more in tune with my hunger cues when I am taking care of my body as a whole.
- Trusting that one day this will feel natural. It won’t feel like I’m overindulging if I eat only to be hungry an hour later. My body is still learning that I am not going to go back on a diet. In a sense, I am in a re-feeding period. I am trusting that over time, which could be years, it will find it’s happy place and it will learn to trust ME again and that I will continue to listen to it instead of restricting and leaving it hungry.
Intuitive Eating isn’t about weight loss. Intuitive eating is about reestablishing trust with your body and taking the best care of it I ever have.
This is a long, slow process.
Learning to trust myself and my body again after decades in diet culture is going to take time.
My hope is that I won’t become the girl again who had to restrict food and exercise excessively to maintain a body weight she thought made her more beautiful.
My hope is that when I look in the mirror I see a woman who treats her body with kindness, compassion and nourishment that leaves her feeling her best which allows her to live her best life.
Peace with our bodies and food is possible. One step at a time.