Intuitive Eating: Find Freedom from Food
Have you gone from diet to diet, only to find that after every diet cycle you’ve put on even MORE weight than you’ve lost?
Is your self-esteem connected to how much food you’ve eaten, how much you weigh, and/or how much weight you’ve lost?
Do you battle constantly with what you’d like to eat vs. what you are “allowing” yourself to eat?
So many people in our nation today are engaged in an emotionally draining and physically ineffective battle with food. They’re left feeling disheartened and frustrated, wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”
When Control Becomes Out-of-Control
If you are one of the 95% of people who have gone on diet after diet, only to find that whatever weight you have temporarily lost has been put right back on, you are not alone…and there’s nothing wrong with you! The very nature of dieting actually sets you up for more overeating, and it is this repetitive cycle of overeating and undereating that has been found to predict future struggles with weight.
It is human nature to want something that we are told we cannot have. The more we are restricted from something that is desirable, the more we want it. And, when we do allow ourself to have it, we tend to go overboard!
This is how a diet-overeat-diet-overeat cycle of problematic eating is created. People innocently go on the latest diet, restricting themselves from certain “bad” or “unhealthy” foods for a certain period of time, until they can no longer maintain it. Often in a moment of emotional vulnerability – exhaustion, stress, loneliness – the forbidden food now becomes the very thing you want to feel better. But after feeling deprived of this tasty treat, you don’t just want a little…you want a lot! This binge eating episode is, ironically, what then causes people to gain weight which then causes them to want to restrict their food intake once again through the next popular diet. This is the undereat-overeat cycle that traps so many well-intended people just trying to “be healthy.”
What is Intuitive Eating? Pure Freedom.
Intuitive eating is a peaceful and effective alternative to dieting behavior. It is a gentle, non-dieting approach to food that helps you to no longer feel deprived and/or restricted, which then stops the bingeing that happens when feeling deprived for too long. Intuitive Eating breaks the problematic diet-overeat-diet-overeat eating cycle!
Intuitive Eating embraces the following key principles:
- Diets are never the answer. They only set you up for eventual failure and frustration, and unwanted overeating.
- Eat when your body is hungry, just as you put on a sweater when your body is cold.
- Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. “Bad” foods do not exist in Intuitive Eating.
- Respect your body’s fullness. When you are nourished and satisfied, take a break from eating. You can always have more later.
- When hungry commit to eating what sounds good, not what you think you “should” have or what is “healthy.”
- Respect and embrace your body, no matter its size or shape.
- Move your body when and how you want. Move because it feels good, not to burn or earn calories.
- Define “health” as a satisfying and balanced combination of caring for your physical, nutritional, emotional, and spiritual needs.
From carrots to cupcakes, m & m’s to apples, intuitive eating is a healthy, moderate way of eating that creates space for all foods to exist in your life. As a result, intuitive eaters experience minimal overeating, do not feel deprived or as if they are “missing out” on the special treats they love, and feel peacefully in control of their relationship with food.
At TheHealthyWeighOut, it is our mission to support each client in breaking away from the dieting mentality and embracing the calm approach of Intuitive Eating. Learning to listen to and trust your body rather than some fad diet is a HUGE step towards sustainable recovery from emotional and binge eating.
But What About the Weight?
Most of the time, our participants come to us desperately seeking a no-diet solution to their weight concerns. For some, weight loss is a personal desire that they believe will help them to live a more satisfying life. Whether they have a goal of skydiving on their 50th birthday or being able to sit comfortably in an airplane seat, living in a somewhat smaller body feels like an answer to a happier, more fulfilling life.
But for many more, weight loss has become a necessary component of their recovery process as they face medical challenges, like fatty liver disease, that necessitate weight loss for the purposes of disease reversal.
In all of these examples, supporting weight loss becomes a delicate balance of eating in ways that respect your body today while working to change your body for tomorrow. So how does Intuitive Eating accomplish this goal?
While Intuitive Eating in its truest form is a weight-neutral approach that encourages people to focus on establishing a fulfilling and satisfying relationship with food and their bodies, and not focus on weight or pursue weight loss as the end goal, the principles remain hugely beneficial for people needing or wanting to facilitate a no-diet weight loss process that is secondary to other treatment goals. With this approach, stopping dieting, honoring your body’s nutritional needs, and resolving the underlying emotional reasons behind the overeating are the primary goals of treatment; weight loss will never be the focus. But in some cases, emotionally and physically healthy weight loss can be a natural outgrowth of this process as consistent and diverse eating nutritionally restores the body allowing for improved overall physical and metabolic functioning.
At TheHealthyWeighOut, we believe that weight and weight loss are very personal matters, unique to each person. While we fully believe in our hearts that each human who walks through our doors is beautiful and perfect just as they are – no weight loss needed! – we respect the individual goals someone may have for their body. Thus, our providers work to meet you where you’re at with respect to your personal goals, and find psychologically and physically healthy ways to help you achieve these goals.
How Can I Learn to Become an Intuitive Eater?
Thankfully, Intuitive Eating is a skill that you can absolutely learn! Our dynamite Registered Dietitians, Brandi Koch, MA, RD and Amy Reynolds, RD, CDE, are experts on Intuitive Eating and can help you incorporate this no-diet approach to eating into your day-to-day relationship with food. There are several options for learning this:
Attend our 2-day workshops. The nutritional portion of these workshops takes an in-depth look at the principles of intuitive eating and teaches you how exactly to apply these principles to every aspect of food – from stocking the kitchen to cooking to eating. The group also has the opportunity to practice these skills together alongside the dietitian.
Work one-on-one with our Registered Dietitian. Work alongside Brandi or Amy to learn how intuitive eating can be incorporated into your life. With customized support specific to your relationship with food and lifestyle, you can learn how this relaxed and pleasurable way of eating can be adopted into every meal of your life!
Ready to be liberated from chronic dieting? We are here to get you started!
Our Co-Founder, Dr. Ashley Southard, explains how to go from dieting to intuitive eating.