Whenever I google for resources or inspiration for Intuitive Eating writing, a year-old article from the New York Post titled Intuitive Eating is for People Who Have Given Up, always comes up near the top. I'm not going to link it here, because a.) clearly it's got enough Search Engine Optimization juice going for it and b.) it's full of fat stigma c.) it's written by someone who clearly does not understand Intuitive Eating and d.) you can basically get the gist of it from the title. The author believes that Intuitive Eating is letting yourself go.
That said, he isn't alone in his thoughts about Intuitive Eating. It's a common fear I hear from new clients. They know from personal experience that diets don't work. Usually they blame it on a lack of willpower or self discipline, like the author of that article (can you tell I'm not a fan?). But these same clients are hugely accomplished men and women and have achieved many things that require tons of willpower and self-discipline - calling them lazy or undisciplined just wouldn't be accurate.
Intuitive eating and body acceptance are not giving up or letting go. These are two of the most powerful ways we can practice self care. As my friend Haley says, it's learning to work with your body instead of against it. When you look beyond diet's rigid rules and a scale that only measures your relationship with gravity at a single moment in time (more on why BMI/weight does not = health here and here), there's space to build sustainable changes to your health habits.
In a sense, Intuitive Eating and body acceptance are letting go - but letting go of things you can't control, like your weight/size. Studies show 95-97% of diets result in weight regain, so even if you are pursuing weight loss, the idea that you have control over your size is mostly an illusion. Letting go of the number of the scale frees up the energy to focus on the things you can control, like discovering enjoyable ways to move your body or finding tasty ways to eat more produce and whole grains.
When I look at the title of that article, what I really want to say is "Yes! Intuitive Eating is for people who have given up! People who have given up on dieting because DIETING DOES NOT WORK!!" The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Why as a society do we praise people for spending their lives dieting and trying to lose weight and weight cycling, and shame those who opt out of a system that clearly doesn't work?
If you're struggling with the nagging feeling that by ditching diets, you're letting yourself go, I'd encourage you to focus on some positive ways that acceptance is allowing you to take care of yourself. Maybe that means doing a fitness class for fun rather than calorie burning, or cooking a nutritious and satisfying meal for yourself. Or maybe that means going out shopping, picking up clothes or makeup or accessories that make you feel confident. Remember that accepting yourself for the body you are in today is not a bad thing because there is nothing wrong with the body you're in today.
HAVE YOU HIT DIET ROCK BOTTOM?
Are you done with diets and sick of feeling crazy around food? Ready to make peace with food and learn how to eat in a way that nourishes your body and soul? If so, I work with clients one-on-one, helping them rediscover the joy of eating, and I would love to help you too! Click here for more information.
More body acceptance inspiration: