Yes, Intuitive Eating is For You
If you've been following me for any length of time, you'll know that I support and encourage intuitive eating. In a nutshell, intuitive eating is a way of eating that allows us to tune back into our body's natural hunger and fullness signals. It gives us full permission to eat all foods, without fear or judgement. However, there seems to be some misunderstanding about who can (or should) become an intuitive eater. Today, I'm hoping to clear up some of the confusion and set the record straight.
Intuitive eating is for everyone.
No matter what body size, financial status, social class or diet history you come from, intuitive eating is for you. The benefits of becoming an intuitive eater apply to all people. The research behind these principles support it. If we let go of the diet mentality, and do the work of "unlearning" food rules, we are better able to take care of ourselves and in the end, become healthier people.
While intuitive eating is FOR everyone, it doesn't mean that everyone can simply jump right in to listening to their hunger and fullness cues right away. In the case of eating disorders for example, intuitive eating is contraindicated as a first mode of treatment. Those who are battling an eating disorder need to start with more structure before they can start to trust their body's cue's again. Becoming an intuitive eater is the end goal. But there's work to be done before getting there.
I think a misconception about intuitive eating is that it will look the same for everyone. We may hear the term intuitive eating and think it's just about sitting down for a long drawn out meal every day and listening to our body's cues while eating the exact thing that sounds good to us at that moment. But unfortunately, that's not always real life.
Sometimes we don't get it right and overshoot our fullness. Sometimes we can't sit down and really savor every bite of our meals without distraction. We may not have the ability to eat exactly what our body is craving at that meal, and that is okay.
Intuitive eating is about getting rid of food rules, not instituting a new set. Flexibility is part of learning to eat this way.
That's not to say we should just continue the way we've been going and try to fit intuitive eating into our current lifestyle and mindset. If our health is a priority, we may need to make some adjustments. Sometimes we need to be intentional about setting boundaries, making a little extra time for meals and adjusting how we spend our money.
If we want to take better care of ourselves we can't keep doing the same things over and over, expecting something to change. If we're constantly stressed out and running from one thing to the next at 100 miles an hour, we're not taking care of ourselves well.
The goal isn't perfection, it's learning how our bodies work better, and feeling better. No matter where we've been in our relationship to food, we can get to a place of self care, and eating in a way that makes us feel our best.
If you want to learn more about the research behind intuitive eating check out some of these articles:
Let me know your thoughts on any of the studies I listed above. I'd love to get a conversation going about these principles!
I'm also thinking of doing a blog series on how to get started with intuitive eating, so let me know if that would be something you'd be interested in reading!