This month is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Last year I had my awesome sister-in-law write up a contribution for me. She's worked at an Eating Disorder Clinic so she knows her stuff. Go HERE if you missed out last year. She was GREAT and agreed to write up another one; this time on Intuitive Eating. YAY! So without further adieu... welcome Jen...
Intuitive eating is best described as being a quick and ready insight into what you eat. Being intuitive…having intuition…direct knowledge without inference. How many times have you stopped to actually think what your body may want you to eat instead of just gorging on whatever is in front of your face??
I have had much interaction and influence with this topic. Spending 2 years trying to teach those with eating disorders how to make peace with food was a battle. Intuitive eating is a lifestyle…something that takes much practice. While trying to teach others to be intuitive eaters, I learned myself how to be one and I can attest that it works.
Why do you think that we become obsessed with food and have unhealthy relationships with it? I have one word for you-DIETS!! When we begin to have obsessive thoughts about being thin and eating only certain foods and restricting others we can hit what is called, “diet bottom”. Dieting can make us more preoccupied with food, it can make us feel guilty about eating non diet foods, it slows our metabolism and it makes food an enemy. Not convinced?? According to “Intuitive Eating” by Tribole and Resch:
· The mere contemplation of going on a diet brings on urges and cravings for “sinful” foods and “Fatty favorites”.
· Upon ending a diet, you end up going on a food binge and feeling guilty.
· Diets teach you not to trust your body or the food you put into it.
· Gives you feelings that you don’t deserve to eat because you’re over weight.
· The lifespan of a diet gets shorter and shorter. Slim Fast…”give us a week…and we’ll…”
· Every diet is preceded by consuming foods you won’t eat again.
· It’s hard to stay on a diet and go out to eat. It’s easier to have a social withdrawl.Each diet teaches your body to adapt better for the next self imposed famine (another diet).
· Metabolism slows.
· Eating Disorders.
Diets do not work! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that…
Only when you vow to discard dieting and replace it with a commitment to intuitive eating will you be released from the prison of yo yo weight fluctuations and food obsessions. By learning to intuitively eat, you will see a healthier, happier you. You will begin to find that your weight will be a healthy, realistic one that will be best for you body. You’ll be surprised to see that it will often be less than what your “ideal weight” is.
Principles to becoming an intuitive eater:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality-throw out the diet books. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being able to discover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honor Your Hunger-Keep your body fed biologically with enough energy and carbs. Learn to honor the signals for rebuilding trust with food.
3. Make Peace With Food-Call a truce; stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build unto uncontrollable cravings and, often, binging.
4. Challenge the Food Police- Scream a loud “No” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1,000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. This step is critical!
5. Feel Your Fullness-Listen to the body signals that tell you you are no longer hungry. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current fullness level is.
6. Discover The Satisfaction Factor- We often overlook one of the basic gifts of existence-the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough.”
7. Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food-We all deal with emotions such as anxiety, loneliness, boredom and anger. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body- Accept the genetic blueprint! When you accept yourself, you feel better about yourself.
9. Exercise-Feel The Difference-Forget militant exercise! Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. If you focus more on how it feels to exercise instead of losing weight-it’s usually more motivating to get up and do it.
10. Honor Your Health-Gentle Nutrition-Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.
While I don’t intend on telling anyone what to do (people don’t usually like that ;) I can tell you that this intuitive eating process has changed my life. I am by no means a perfect intuitive eater. I find myself having to go back to some of the steps again and again. The key is to have a healthy mindset. It also requires a highly conscious decision and commitment.
This book, “Intuitive Eating”, is well worth your time and money. If you are feeling unhappy in any way with your relationship with food or your body, READ IT!
While it is National Eating Disorders Awareness month, I will put a plug in for all those struggling with eating disorders: “Eating Disorders are not just a fad or a phase. They are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health”-NEDA
Eating Disorders are one of the most selfish, self consumed things I have ever witnessed. They not only affect you, but everyone around you. Your family and friends will be affected greatly if you choose to take this path and not receive help. They are dangerous, serious and I have personally seen lives taken. They create a deadly path that only spirals downward. There are many resources out there where you can receive help.
Me again. Isn't she AWESOME?!! This stuff is legit. It's real. Intuitive eating works; I am still working on it but it's a process and I'm moving in the right direction. Thanks again Ms. Jen for writing this up. As my own side note, if you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder and you don't know what to do... let me know and I'll have Jen get some information for you.