Principles of Intuitive Eating- Getting Back to Being the Expert of You

Let Your Body Be the Guide

As mentioned in the article Intuitive Eating for IBS & GERD, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created Intuitive Eating and the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating in the 90’s as “a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought”.

It may seem counterintuitive that it takes books, workbooks, expert guidance, and countless studies to “teach” someone to do something instinctively, and it is.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where millions of Americans go on diets each year even though diets have over a 90% failure rate, and research has shown diets cause weight gain.  

This plus an inherent dissatisfaction with body size and a desire to achieve the western thin ideal/beauty standards have left many people confused and disconnected from their own bodies.  

In fact many find Intuitive Eating to be more difficult than a stringent diet full of rules and supplements, partly because of their resistance to accept principle one:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at diet culture that promotes weight loss and the lies that have led you to feel  as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet or food plan might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

Conquering principle one is challenging and takes many people the most time to master.  However, once you have committed to not use food to lose weight it is easier to tackle principle two

2. Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust in yourself and in food.

Principle Two may seem simple, but think about the number of ways people talk about “tricking” their body to eat less and not be hungry—chew gum, drink water before eating, fill up on vegetables, etc.

These behaviors actually create a distrust between the mind and body with food that must be unlearned so that you can move on to principle three-

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 into uncontrollable cravings and, often, binging.  When you finally “give in” to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt.

    This is where the pesky behaviors mentioned earlier that trick the body to eat less actually backfire. 

    The body is smart, once it feels deprived it initiates biological cues to get what it wants–often carbohydrates or fats.  Principle three and four go hand in hand, working through both at the same time is often helpful.

    4. Challenge the Food Police. Scream a loud “No!” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loudspeaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the food police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

      When learning to be an Intuitive Eater it is important to recognize that food is more than fuel.  Expecting pleasure from food goes against many diet tips but is a necessary step towards Intuitive Eating.  

      Stay tuned for Part 2 of Principles of Intuitive Eating- Savor It!

      Friendly foods to check out:

      Toasted Coconut Almonds (14 oz, Pack of 1)

      Organic Hulled Millet Grain (48 oz)

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