What is Intuitive Eating Anyways!? And How do I let Go of Dieting and Move to Intuitive Eating?

Are you tired of counting calories, obsessing over what foods are healthy and what foods are unhealthy? Do you label foods as “good” or “bad”? Do you judge yourself based on what or how much you have eaten? Do you spend way too much time thinking about food? Are you ready to embrace ALL food and change your perspective? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Intuitive Eating may just be the path for you! 

Intuitive Eating is an approach to eating and your relationship with food, your body, and your overall health and wellbeing that is becoming increasingly researched as well as embraced by many who are fed up with dieting and obsessive food rules. Here at Omni, we have found in our own personal experience, as well as in our work with clients that it is the best approach when desiring more peace and freedom in your relationship with food and your body. Intuitive Eating is not a new trendy diet. It is LIFE. It allows us to let go of rules, obsessions, labels, and morality and embrace peace and freedom. Who doesn’t want more of that in their life?! 

Intuitive Eating is an eating philosophy that was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It consists of ten principles that guide you on the path to becoming an intuitive eater. I am going to attempt to concisely explain it to you here. 

Intuitive eating is rooted in you. It is all about connecting to yourself and learning to trust that your body is full of inherent wisdom that will guide you on this journey. 

The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar machine that wants to convince (or maybe already has convinced) you that you are imperfect and need to change your body in order to be worthy. I am here to tell you, that the diet industry and their gimmicks are a massive bunch of BS! Don’t believe me? Read on! 

The first step in becoming an intuitive eater is to let go of any diet(ing) philosophy that is aiming to tell you that you need to lose weight or change your body. It is accepting that no diet – no matter what it is called, or how fancy the marketing around it is, is going to work. I’m talking about paleo, keto, low carb, intermittent fasting, weight watchers, or whatever trendy diet rebrand comes out next. 

As you begin to let go of diets and dieting you can also start to pay attention to the thoughts and beliefs you have, as well as the labels you place on food. Do you notice yourself casting judgment when you eat a specific food? Do you limit or deprive yourself of foods that you love? Do you believe that certain foods will lead to unwanted outcomes with your body? Those are just a few examples of food rules and beliefs to pay attention to. 

Once you have developed a good awareness of the ways that you relate to food, you can then start to take action steps towards giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. I know that phrase sounds scary. Unconditional!? This may feel uneasy at first, and you may find yourself overeating at times. Not to worry, the whole point of unconditional permission to eat is to allow yourself to begin to trust your body, as well as removing the power from foods that you have deprived yourself of or not allowed yourself to eat in the past. Over time you will begin to notice that foods become more neutral in how you relate to them, and that no food has the ability to change anything overnight. 

It is through unconditional permission to eat that you will begin to attune more to your internal regulators – your hunger and fullness cues. You will start to notice that your body will let you know when it is time to eat, as well as how much to eat. You will also begin to notice more subtle nuances such as emotions that lead you to eat or not eat. Ask yourself, what do hunger, fullness, satiety feel like? 

Have you lost sight of what it feels like to be satisfied from food? Through intuitive eating, satisfaction will start to become more noticeable. You may see that a smaller amount of food fills you up more quickly than it has before, or that there are certain foods you thought you liked but do not have a taste for anymore. You may also begin to expand your eating horizons, trying new foods at restaurants and getting more creative in the kitchen. 

Your emotions play a big role in the way you relate to food. If you think about it, most gatherings that people engage in typically involve food and eating. We use food to celebrate, to mourn, to express gratitude and praise, to nurture, and to connect, among countless other things. Human beings relate to food with every emotion. Emotional eating has a bad rap in our society. In intuitive eating the aim is to recognize how your emotions may lead you to eat or not eat. With that awareness you can then learn ways to interact and cope with your emotions in ways that do not involve food, all the time. 

Learning to respect your body, as it is in this moment is probably one of the more challenging parts of becoming an intuitive eater, especially in our society that is obsessed with a specific standard of beauty. Through self-compassion you can learn to accept your body just as it is. What is one thing you appreciate (I didn’t say like or love) about your body? Does it get you from point A to point B? Is it strong? Is your heart beating? Gratitude can be helpful as you begin to practice body acceptance. Remember, intuitive eating is rooted in trusting your body and it’s inherent wisdom. Stay tuned – we will have a blog related to body acceptance out soon! 

Do you punish yourself through exercise? Do you compensate for what you eat by hitting the gym? Moving your body in ways that feel nourishing to you while also allowing yourself time to rest and rejuvenate are part of becoming an intuitive eater. When is the last time you engaged in movement that was fun and joyful? Trusting your body’s internal wisdom will guide you to the rest and movement that feel best for you. 

Gentle nutrition is the final part of becoming an intuitive eater. I like to point out that nutrition is not even mentioned until the very end of this process. And even then, it is gentle. That means that of course what we eat has a bearing on overall health and wellbeing, but what is even more important is that we engage with food in a peaceful, nonjudgmental, and curious way. How do certain foods feel in your body? Do you eat in a calm and relaxed environment? When you bring all of these ideas together - acceptance, peace, freedom, non-judgment, connection, trust, and curiosity – you have laid the foundation for becoming an intuitive eater.

Is your curiosity peaked? Are you ready to begin your journey to becoming an intuitive eater? Let us know your questions or reflections in the comments! 

Stay tuned for more on the blog on common myths associated with Intuitive Eating, and for more about the founders of Intuitive Eating and the 10 Principles follow this link.