Trusting yourself with intuitive eating is a big part of making the shift in your mindset. Especially since at the heart of each and every diet is a list of rules and restrictions telling you that you can’t be trusted with your own body. And for some of you, dieting may have started early and been forced upon you by a well-meaning parent creating even less trust in yourself. But with time and implementing the principles of Intuitive Eating, it is possible to rediscover trust in yourself with regards to food, eating and your body.
The face of distrust and food
There are many ways that trust around food and eating may have been broken between you and your body. This distrust develops from all the messages you’ve received over the years. Messages telling you how to eat rather than allowing you to listen to your body and feed it what it wants and needs.
For me, I see distrust in my own habits in many ways, but one in particular stands out. I don’t trust myself with sweet food or “junk” food in the house, so I almost never buy it. The reason why? Because if I buy a package of cookies, I won’t just eat a few and be done for a while, but will likely demolish the whole box in one sitting. So for years my practice has been to only buy products such as cookies or chips in single serving packages when possible thus making I only eat one serving.
At this point in my intuitive eating journey, I have to be honest, this habit and area of trust is one that I am still working on. While my ability to curb binges has improved greatly, it’s still a challenge having certain foods in the house. But I know that through the application of various intuitive eating activities and working through the issue, I will eventually get there.
What trust looks like for you may be different…
You may not trust that you will be able to stop eating
This is my number one issue as demonstrated in my story above. But what I do know is that intuitive eating isn’t black and white and when overeating happens, rather than feeling guilty or beating ourselves up, it’s important to take the time to think about the behavior and experience so maybe the next time, it will be different.
You may not trust the signals from your body
This one may be huge especially if you have been dieting for a long time. When following a diet, you are likely eating by the clock or according to a list of rules, making you completely desensitized to the sensations in your body.
You may not trust your food decisions
One of the questions, I get asked most often is if there no rules and I can eat whatever I want, maybe I will always choose foods that aren’t all that good for me. The fact is that nutrition is a part of Intuitive Eating. By tuning into your body you will begin to notice which foods provide you with the most energy and make you feel the most satisfied leading you to choosing these foods.
You may fear that you will gain weight
Intuitive eating requires a full rejection of the diet mentality. This rejection also includes accepting whatever happens with your weight. No one can guarantee with intuitive eating that you will lose weight, it may happen or it may not. But what I can guarantee you is that with time, you will feel better mentally which will also translate into feeling better physically. And at best, your weight will likely stabilize where it is meant to be.
You may worry that others will judge you because they won’t understand your new lifestyle.
Diet culture permeates every aspect of our culture in ways that you may not even notice. It is everywhere. I feel like every conversation with my girlfriends eventually leads to a conversation about dieting or weight loss.
And you can’t look at social media, regular media, the television, movies…you get the idea…without diet culture being forced down your throat in the form of thinness as the ultimate goal, bodies shown before and after, diets promising they will work for you and such.
And as you begin your intuitive eating journey, you will see the evidence of diet culture more and more.
It’s tough to break away from diet culture and diet talk and not engage in the conversation when it comes up as a topic. It’s also difficult to set boundaries with certain people to ask that it’s not a conversation you want to have.
For me at this point, even though I am practicing and even coaching others with intuitive eating, I often just get super silent with the topic of dieting or weight loss comes up or I gently try to turn the conversation in another direction.
Intuitive eating at the heart is a process of relearning to trust yourself.
But how do you do that?
Focus on the principles one at a time.
Work through them at your own pace. Some will be more challenging for you than others. For me the most challenging principle to date is learning to honor my own hunger. I am so used to eating at least three meals a day according to a certain schedule. I find breaking away from that mindset and allowing my body to guide my actions is hard.
Some days if I’ve had a big lunch later in the day, I may not be hungry for dinner, but my mind still wants to eat. I am using various techniques and awareness activities to help tune in better on my hunger level throughout the day in order to make sure that most of the time I am honoring my own hunger when I decide to eat.
But your struggle may be different than mine. Once you have gone through the principles you can go back and focus on those that are more challenging and devote more time to digging into why you struggle with certain principles so much.
Understand that there are no rules and the path is not linear.
Dieting is so black and white. Most diets are very specific about what, how and when to eat. Learning to let go of that way of looking at how you eat may be a struggle. But with Intuitive Eating there aren’t any rules.
Yes there are principles on which it is based, but they are simply there to guide you!!
And part of the process of trusting yourself with intuitive eating is learning that when you veer off course, it is best to treat yourself kindly and be judgment free and use it as a chance to investigate your behavior and learn from it.
You must practice non-judgment.
Learning to trust yourself means that when you have an instance where you aren’t following the principles of Intuitive Eating, you recognize it and acknowledge the behavior, but don’t judge it. We are so hard on ourselves thinking that perfection is necessary all the time. At least I know I am.
That reaction stems from many things, but it is also inherent in diet culture. And how many times, have you screwed up a diet only to think you are failure and then proceed to clear out all the food in the cabinet?
It’s important to accept that…
no one is perfect
it’s not your fault
you aren’t a failure
it’s not a lack of willpower
…in order to fully embrace intuitive eating.
Be willing to accept that making this drastic shift towards this new way of thinking may take time.
This has been huge for me. I’ve had to fully embrace that some parts of the negative dieting mindset are so ingrained in me…like for over 20 years…that some bad habits may take a lifetime of work. It may be the same for you, but with each step you make towards healing your relationship with food, the better.
Recognize that you need help and support.
Intuitive eating doesn’t happen overnight, and in many cases, you may need some professional help to work through some of the more difficult parts or even just to get started. There are definitely ways to get started on your own and discover where you may need some support.
How can you start your Intuitive Eating journey today?
Read the book
This is the perfect place to start if you are totally new to the idea of Intuitive Eating and simply want to understand more about how it works.
I suggest starting here if you are still on the fence about Intuitive Eating because to really get started practicing it you must be able to fully embrace the first principle which is “Reject the Diet Mentality”. This means you need to stop dieting and engaging in diet behaviors and thoughts. At the same time, this means you need to set aside the idea of losing weight as well and be open to your weight settling where it does.
Join my FB group
Another great place to start if you are still undecided and simply want to learn more about Intuitive Eating. The group, Journey to Health with Intuitive Eating is a forum where, I share about my experience with Intuitive Eating, provide you with some guidance and tips and also share recipes from the blog because it’s still about eating good food. But it’s also a place where you can post questions and find support as well.
Work with me
If you are ready to make the plunge and think Intuitive Eating sounds like the answer to your yo-yo dieting cycle or your diet fatigue, then consider working with me in my group program, “Building Healthy Habits with Intuitive Eating for a Healthier Happier Life”. It’s a 5 week group program that meets for an hour each week and gets you started on your Intuitive Eating journey.
If you don’t really want to work in a group, I also offer one-on-one coaching options as well. This format is much more personalized to your specific needs. And allows us to work through the principles at your own pace, in the order that meets YOU where you are at.
I am so thankful for discovering Intuitive Eating and I am especially thankful for the pioneers of this idea, E. Tribole and A. Resch for discovering an answer that allow me and you to find freedom from dieting. And also thanks to all the researchers and other folks out there helping to support and promote this lifestyle.
For me, I am so passionate about this lifestyle that I can’t wait to share it with women all over the world so that they will be able to discover freedom from dieting and finally make peace with food.
Implementing intuitive eating into your life may be a process. But it is possible to to begin trusting yourself with intuitive eating and with time find freedom from dieting and release your obsessions with food and diet restriction.
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