Intuitive Eating: 5 Essential Mindset Shifts
Throughout high school and college, I always believed there was the perfect solution out there to solve all my food and body issues. I thought that if only I found it, then I'd lose weight, get super fit, and find all the happiness that comes along with it.
Yet, what I was looking for came in a completely different package. I discovered Intuitive Eating and brushed it off at first.
Listen to my body? Yeah, right.
Give up the weight loss goal? How is that going to help? I thought, even when I was already at my lowest adult weight.
Yet, the more I fought against food and my body, the more apparent it became that intuitive eating was my path.
The problem is that it wasn't a perfectly constructed plan like other diets or training plans. It's a path and journey, without a definite ending point. I was scared - like so many of my clients - to try because what if I failed at this too?
It took time, but I was able to give up the control around food and let my intuitive eating journey unfold on its own. I had to allow myself focus on progress rather than perfection, along with doing some serious mindset work.
I have no idea what your journey towards listening to your body will look like. Yet, here are my top tips for committing anyways.
1. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.
A lot of you have reached out to share that you're interested in intuitive eating...but don't want to give up calorie counting/the scale/other control tool.
I get it. You feel as if you give up control around food, you'll gain a ton of weight, eat all the food, or feel crazy around food. Yeah, your weight may change, you may eat a ton of chocolate, and you may feel crazy around food (at first). Yet, it's worth it to try anyways. Often, what actually happens is different from what you think may happen.
What I do know is if you're struggling with your relationship with food, you know what you are currently doing isn't working. That's why you're reading an article on intuitive eating here. So, recognize your fears, and choose to commit anyways.
2. You can't fail at intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating isn't a diet. It's choosing to live a lifestyle free of dieting.
You can't fail at listening to your body.
As you're working on intuitive eating, recognize that you're re-learning a new style of eating. It takes time to notice the whispers from your body and to get comfortable stopping your meal when you're satisfied - rather than stuffed or full. Or for some, it takes time to get comfortable eating until the point of fullness.
You aren't a failure for giving up on diets. The diet industry is the one that failed you. Research shows that dieting simply does not work, and that yo-yo dieting can actually be harmful to your health.
3. Process & integrate. Digest & metabolize.
Just as we digest and metabolize food and nutrients, we also need space to process and integrate new ideas and concepts.
When I read a powerful book, I often have to take a break after each chapter to process it. I often journal about how I want to integrate these ideas into my life - like practicing courage and vulnerability from Brene Brown's incredible books - or move my body to process emotions that came up.
You may need this space to process the ideas of intuitive eating and body acceptance, as well. Take your time. As much as you'd like to, you can't rush the process.
4. Play with the process.
It's so so so important to PLAY in your life. Of course, disordered eating can be a heavy topic and should be treated as so.
Yet, the journey can be treated as a playful process. We are all born intuitive eaters, so bring that childish playful attitude to your journey. Bring play and pleasure into the journey. My favorite ways are cooking with fun music on, sharing a meal with friends, and eating outside mindfully in the sunshine.
5. Work with someone for guidance.
Consider working with a dietitian that specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating, or intuitive eating, and/or a therapist.
It can be extremely therapeutic to simply talk to someone who won't judge you or brush your problems aside like they don't matter. Shame grows in silence, so talking brings those insecurities out into the open.
Working with someone can give you a new perspective, offer support, and help you explore yourself on a deeper level as a guide. If you're interested in coaching with me, you can learn more here. I work with women struggling with disordered eating (or those with a history of eating disorders) to find peace with food and their bodies.