In regards to Intuitive Eating, which encompasses a non-diet approach to food, I hear a misconception lingering around social media. My urge to address this stems from my hope to stop the fear mongering that is lurking around this non-diet approach to living.
To skeptics or to those unfamiliar, the process of Intuitive Eating can sound a bit counterproductive to the years or decades of hard work that so many abide to when striving for health- or weight- related goals . This is because a large aspect of learning how to eat intuitively involves breaking the very food rules that we rely on.
Food rules encompass any definitive, authoritarian ban that you or someone else (maybe even a health professional) has placed upon a specific type of food, food group, or eating behavior. A few common examples that I often hear from new clients include:
- I will not eat after 7PM
- I will not eat white bread.
- White potatoes are unhealthy, I can only eat sweet potatoes.
- I will not keep peanut butter in the house because I have no control and will eat the whole jar!
- Dark chocolate is the only type of chocolate I can eat because it’s healthy.
Contrary to this, food freedom allows for the unconditional permission to eat all foods that we enjoy and all foods that make us feel good. However, the idea of eating “all the foods” seems out of reach for many who are drenched in years (or even months!) of dieting. Throughout this time, a severe level of distrust develops between us and our bodies. The idea of opening the flood gates to all those foods that we have “no willpower over” is often too much to handle.
But here’s the thing… learning how to eat intuitively doesn’t simply open the gates and let “all the foods” flood in. That can be overwhelming and scary! Furthermore, this approach does not dictate a one-size-fits-all “framework” simply because individual health is not one-size-fits-all. While some might be ready to rebuild trust with many foods, others are not yet ready to tackle this.
And that is okay! The process of Intuitive Eating works with you no matter how long it takes to rebuild that trust. If you’re ready to test the waters without diving head first, I’m walking your through one simple approach that you can try on your own.
#1: Identify and Write Down Your Food Rules
Take a moment to consider any food-related rules that you follow. Perhaps you read online that white bread is “bad” or perhaps you swore to never touch processed sugar again. Can you identify a specific food that you avoid? Do you only eat cauliflower pizza as a means to dodge the real deal? Consider foods that you would love to eat, but feel that “once I start, I’ll never stop!”
#2: Pick One Rule From Your List
Here’s where we challenge the misconception that I spoke about earlier. Instead of diving into this head first, let’s take it one step at a time. Choose just 1 food. Perhaps it’s a a bag of chips that you cannot trust yourself it. Perhaps it’s a slice of pizza from your local pizzeria.
#3: Challenge Yourself
Now for the fun (and scary!) part. I want you to eat this food. Though it sounds simple… I have a caveat. I want you to eat this food without distraction. No phone, no computer, no TV. Just you, the table, and the food. Portion an amount that you feel might satisfy you (try not measuring the food precisely… this too takes some time to get accustomed too, BTW!) Consider the tastes, the aromas, and the textures. Does each bite live up to your expectation? If so, then continue eating and tune into your fullness cues. If not, then consider if this version of your food is worth the experience. Assessing your experience helps to reconnect you with your intention to eat the food until fullness and satisfaction.
Now that we’ve dismantled the process to begin breaking your food rules, I want to you to continue challenging yourself with new foods from your list. Remember, nothing happens over time. Rebuilding your relationship with food is an endless journey. Share your experience below!