How to Start Intuitive Eating-Part 3
This is the final post in the series on 'getting started with intuitive eating'! If you're just joining us, check out the first two posts to catch up: How to Start Intuitive Eating-Part 1
Today we're wrapping up our discussion on how to start intuitive eating. While we haven't covered all of the principles, hopefully this series has helped you start to think differently about your relationship with food, and to begin taking steps toward becoming an intuitive eater!
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
We all deal with negative emotions from time to time, it's part of being a human. We begin to learn coping skills for those feelings from a young age. Certain ways of coping may be more constructive than others. Turning to food for comfort, or to temporarily numb our feelings, can definitely serve a purpose in that moment. However, it's not going to resolve the underlying issue, so it's not the most helpful coping strategy.
The first step to finding a more helpful way to cope can be to bring awareness to the negative feelings. Sometimes we don't even realize we're turning to food out of a desire for comfort or distraction. If we can learn to identify the negative feelings, we're one step closer to dealing with them in a more constructive way. Once we can figure out how we're feeling, we can give ourselves a chance to pause and ask what we really need in the moment. Sometimes, we turn to food to help us deal with loneliness or anxiety, but that doesn't ultimately help us resolve those feelings. Taking a pause lets us decide whether choosing food will be helpful in the moment or not. This is not to say that we can never do any kind of emotional eating ever again.
Part of food's purpose is to be an experience that we enjoy and makes us feel good. But we don't want food to be our only way of coping with certain feelings. As you start working through this principle, you may find that there is more going on that feels too big to handle alone. I would recommend reaching out to a therapist to help you work through some of those feelings.
Ultimately we want food to be neutral, but still enjoyable. As intuitive eaters, we want to be in the driver's seat- not the food. Bringing some further awareness to what's going on under the surface, with our emotional and mental state, can help us move forward in the process.
Respect Your Body
The final principle that we're reviewing in this series is about respecting your body. This is one that you'll likely continue to work on throughout your journey to intuitive eating. I wanted to include it in the "getting started" series because I think it's important to start thinking about our bodies in a different way. Body image work can be a long process. But the first steps are simply letting yourself accept and respect your body. It may be helpful to also dive into some of the research and ideas behind Health at Every Size.
It's important to accept our bodies as they were created. We are not all meant to look alike-this includes the size of our bodies. When we accept our "genetic blue print" we are better able to let go of the diet mentality. If we're no longer chasing the thin ideal then we won't have a need for diets. We're free to become intuitive eaters and let our bodies settle in the weight that it's most comfortable and healthy.
A simple first step could be to list all the things you're grateful about for your body. Is it that you were able to carry and grow a baby, that you can walk to the store nearby or simply that your body allows you to move through the world, and gives you the ability to enjoy your favorite things. Whatever it may be, list them out and remind yourself regularly of what you're grateful for.
That's it for this series! I hope you found it beneficial and if you're interested in really digging in and starting this work for yourself, I'd love to partner with you! I'm accepting new clients for intuitive eating work so please reach out if this is something you're interested in!