Pretty much everyone who is interested in intuitive eating holds some desire for weight loss, because otherwise they’d already be a pretty intuitive eater. We live in a culture that is obsessed with dieting and thinness. So of course the question of can I diet to lose weight before starting intuitive eating is a common one. In this post, I dive into why you don’t have to lose weight before starting intuitive eating, and why you can start eating more intuitively today!Read More
Years of yo-yo dieting and disordered eating can get you out of touch with internal cues, like your body's hunger and fullness signals. Learn how to use the hunger fullness scale in intuitive eating, a tool that can help you can back in touch with when and how much to eat.Read More
We all grow up steeped in diet culture, so of course we’re constantly battling diet mentality. Dealing with these thoughts can make eating really stressful! Read this post to learn tools for how to reframe diet mentality thoughts in intuitive eating.Read More
In intuitive eating, you hear a lot about hunger. But did you know there are more ways to experience hunger than just physical hunger? This post explores the four types of hunger in intuitive eating - physical, emotional, taste and practical - and how to respond to each.Read More
Feeling guilty for emotional eating? Stop. Even though one principle of intuitive eating is coping with emotions without food, it’s still totally OK to emotionally eat. Learn why emotional eating isn’t bad for you, and can be a perfectly acceptable way to cope with strong emotions.Read More
Diet advice is all about restriction and willpower. It tells you to “just say no” to all the foods you love and enjoy - no wonder so many people are trapped in a cycle or restriction and binging! If you’re wondering how to make peace with food and become a more intuitive eater, it starts with giving yourself permission to eat the foods you love.Read More
When you look at eating practices and traditions around the world, one thing is clear: human beings were designed to be flexible around food. We have survived by being able to adapt our diet to whatever food is available in a wide variety of environments. Read this post to learn how you can debunk common diet myths and rules by looking at different cultures eating patterns and practices.Read More
Working with people who have spent a huge chunk of their life dieting, many of them come to me feeling like huge Failures, capital F intended. They’ve spent their life on-and-off diets, shaming themselves for “lack of willpower” in between each round. Of course, it’s the flawed system of dieting that’s the failure, not the person, but that’s not how they feel.
So it’s no surprise that when I bring up intuitive eating, this novel approach to eating, their first response is often fear of failure. I mean, if you can't manage eating with clear defined rules, how on earth are you supposed to manage it without all that structure?
The thing is, it's impossible to fail at intuitive eating. Unless you’re going into it with a diet mindset, failure simply isn't a possible outcome. And even if you are going into it with a diet mindset initially (hey, it's hard to break up with diet mentality!), you're still much more likely to become a more competent eater in the long run than if you were to start yet another diet plan.
Food, eating, and dieting is often viewed with this binary lens. There’s good foods and bad foods, healthy foods and unhealthy foods. You’re on a diet or you’re off a diet. You’ve succeeded or failed. Moving towards intuitive eating, your eyes will be opened to many shades of grey. Rather than relying on black and white rules, intuitive eating is based on 10 principles, guidelines really, that you can adapt and incorporate on your own timeline, in your own way. There’s no right or wrong. Some other things to know about intuitive eating:
It's not a test. No one is grading you. Intuitive eating is a tool for better understanding your body and it's needs, and eating in a way that responds to those needs. It's not a set of standards with pass/fail criteria.
The goal is learning. There is no outcome that defines a successful intuitive eater. If you tune into your body, or attempt to do something differently, you’ll learn, and even if the outcome isn't what you expected or desired, you'll still gain valuable knowledge. And that's a win!
Setbacks are opportunities for growth. Working with clients on intuitive eating, I welcome slips and struggles as learning opportunity! Think about something you do well - did you not fail dozens (hundreds, thousands!) of times before feeling competent in it? It’s a cliche, but failure is not opposite of success, it's part of it.
It’s helpful to notice when that success/failure mentality is coming up for you in intuitive eating, so that you can challenge it. Diet mentality can derail intuitive eating, and turn this life saving changing approach into a diet. When you notice black-and-white thinking, lean in and get curious, not judgmental, about where that might be coming from.
You know what to expect with diets. Intuitive eating is unknown, so it makes sense that it would feel scary. That’s why it’s so important to have a support system, whether it’s a friend, partner, family member, facebook group, or an intuitive eating coach who can guide you. My goal in working with clients on intuitive eating is to help break down the principles and individualize them to you and your needs, and normalize what you’re going through on this journey. If you’re interested in working together, here’s more about my practice philosophy and nutrition services.
What's scariest to you about intuitive eating?
This post was originally published in March 2016. It has been updated to give you the best content possible.
You might also like:
Intuitive eating sometimes gets translated into eat whatever you want, when you want it. It’s an inaccurate and oversimplified translation, and creates a perceived barrier for people with financial difficulties in adopting intuitive eating. If you’re on a budget and interested in learning more about intuitive eating, read this post to see how different principles of intuitive eating can be translated for financial barriers.Read More
Honor your hunger is the second principle of intuitive eating, so as you can imagine, it’s a pretty important one. Wonky hunger cues are a common side effect of dieting, and when you’re first getting back in touch with your cues, it might feel really uncomfortable noticing hunger more frequently. On average, a human needs food every 3-4ish hours. If you’re consistently feeling hungry more often than this, here’s some reasons why you might feel hungry all the time.Read More
Curious about intuitive eating and not sure where to start? I’ve got ya! This post covers intuitive eating basics including the 10 principles of intuitive eating, myths and misconceptions, and how to get started with intuitive eating. It also has links to my most helpful intuitive eating blog posts, plus resources for where to learn more.Read More
Do you wish you could go back and re do vacations without diet mentality chipping away at the fun? Since time travel isn’t an option yet, let’s vow to stop inviting diet mentality to tag along on our future vacations! Give yourself the gift of of food freedom on your next trip and learn four tips for letting go of diet rules on vacation in this post.Read More
As a non-diet, private practice dietitian, there’s a lot of misconceptions about what we do, and I think a lot of those misconceptions can make people afraid to reach out for help. Will you be told what you can and can’t eat? Will you be judged for your weight or eating choices? Will you be lectured about nutrition the whole time? Learn what to expect working with a non-diet dietitian in this article.Read More
With less structure, more going out to eat and travel, and sometimes, more alcohol, navigating eating on the weekends can be a challenge. It’s not unusual to get trapped in a cycle of eating “perfectly” during the week, then binging on the weekend. Learn 9 tips for how to stop binging on the weekend in this post.Read More
I’m back with part 4 of my IBS and Intuitive Eating series. Today is a personal story from my part time dietitian Kate, of how she learned what’s best for her IBS symptoms was not more fiber, water and exercise, like EVERY doctor told her, but rather less of those things! Learn how intuitive eating helped Kate make peace with food, and soothe her stomach symptoms.Read More
Turns out, understanding intuitive eating conceptually is very different from actively applying the principles to your thoughts and behaviors around food. Who knew? Practicing intuitive eating takes consistently challenging old thought patterns rooted in diet mentality. Learn how to break those old thought patterns in this post.Read More
In this crazy mixed up diet culture we live in, sometimes it’s hard to know what a “normal” day of eating looks like. WHY I ate Wednesday post is to give you an inside look at intuitive eating in action, looking at what guides my eating decisions and how that plays out throughout the day. In this edition, I talk about eating when traveling, flexible eating, and eating unsatisfying food.Read More
Google “how to stop food cravings” and you’ll find over 46 million results. I haven’t read all of them, but I can pretty much guarantee they’re filled with bad advice. That’s because the best thing you can do to make a food craving go away is to satisfy it.Read More
Thanksgiving is supposed to be about food, but with all the mixed messages about overabundance and restriction coming from diet culture, it can be a stressful day of eating. Learn strategies for not freaking out about food on Thanksgiving so you can fully enjoy yourself and celebrate the holiday without feeling guilty about eating.Read More
It's the million dollar question for anyone struggling to make peace with food - how long does it take to become an intuitive eater? The truth is, as cliche as it sounds, intuitive eating is a journey, not a destination, and that journey may be different lengths for different people.Read More