What intuitive eating is and how it can change your life
It’s no secret that I suffered from an eating disorder; in fact, I’d consider myself to still be in recovery. While I’ve been in therapy for a few years now to work on the mental health aspects of coming to terms with all the fun and juicy parts of my anxiety (shout out to Talkspace!), there still comes a time to actually do the doing of it.
(Do the doing? you ask yourself. Has Sami…lost it?)
What I mean is: you can go a lot of time just thinking about things, but at a certain point, you have to do something about them.
Some of my old food fears:
Eating food out at a restaurant would make me sick because of how it was prepared.
Eating with friends or any kind of company, because what if I got sick in the middle of our meal?
Eating food in the middle of the day, because it would ruin my appetite to eat a larger/nutritious meal at night.
Woof. It was exhausting trying to handle my arbitrary and difficult food rules on top of the restrictions my orthorexia had laid out for me.
Gradually, I became more comfortable with eating around people and trying new foods. (I even went back to eating meat after more than a decade of being a pescatarian, but more on that in another post.)
But it wasn’t until I discovered a new way of thinking about food that I really started to make bigger strides in my progress. Have you heard of Intuitive Eating?
In a book first published in 1995, dietitians/nutrition therapists Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole wrote about a new process they’d been testing on their patients after years of being uncomfortable with the advice they were giving people.
Essentially, there are 10 principles to Intuitive Eating, and all of them are integral to understanding the whole concept. However, Intuitive Eating is not diet. It is not a set of food rules or restrictions. It’s a way for people to break out of the diet culture mentality and start making peace with food.
A quick note before I go on: Intuitive Eating is not for people who are still struggling with their eating disorder or who have recently gone into recovery. Seek out treatment and doctors who will help you get back on track. When you feel ready, Intuitive Eating can be there for you as a way to become comfortable with food and your body again.
In learning more about the principles of Intuitive Eating, I found myself feeling more experimental with not only the foods I was eating, but also the amount and timing of what/when I was eating. The concepts of gentle nutrition and joyful movement were new to me, but they made so much sense.
I’m now eating three times a day almost every day. And if I don’t, 9 out of 10 times I don’t have a total meltdown over it like I used to. Previously, I held myself to such high standards and would freak out every time I felt like I was failing. In reality, I was making so much positive progress, that my “bad” days started to feel worse than they actually were. Through Intuitive Eating, however, I know that I’m given constant opportunities to keep trying.
Here are the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating so you can see if something here speaks to you and your journey:
Reject the diet mentality.
Honor your hunger.
Make peace with food.
Challenge the food police.
Respect your fullness.
Discover the satisfaction factor.
Honor your feelings without using food.
Respect your body.
Exercise—feel the difference.
Honor your health.
There is so much more to Intuitive Eating, and I’ll explore some of those topics in future blog posts. I highly recommend getting the book or finding it at your local library if you’re interested in reclaiming your food-related thoughts.
If you’re interested in learning more about it right this second, read this piece in The Atlantic.