Unconditional permission to eat what you desire, no more emotional eating, and trusting your body to tell you when and how much to eat?! Upon introduction to Intuitive Eating, it might sound too good to be true – impossible, in fact. It’s a completely different paradigm from what you were taught from diet culture. Your whole life you’ve been sold the message that dieting=thinness=health, and yet Intuitive Eating is associated with:
…all of which sound pretty healthy, no?
I know what you’re thinking: ‘How can all of this be possible if I don’t know how my body is going to respond to the pendulum swing from restriction to food freedom?’ The truth is, some bodies gain weight once adopting Intuitive Eating, some stay the same, and some lose weight. If you’re new to considering IE and you’re hoping to be in the latter category, that is completely normal.
After all, we live in a culture that:
Dieting gives us the promise of confidence, social acceptance, and a sense of control. But it only serves those purposes until it doesn’t anymore. One powerful turning point for many of my clients is the realization that each time you intentionally lose weight your body perceives a famine and consequently raises its set point weight to higher than before to prepare for the next one. In other words, the number one way to guarantee weight gain is to diet.
If that’s not reason enough for you to reject the diet mentality, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of Intuitive Eating.
When our primary concern is weight loss, we view our body through a hypercritical lens. We inspect it for perceived flaws and feel disappointed when it doesn’t live up to our standards. Intuitive Eaters, on the other hand, have a completely different relationship with their bodies. They view them as the vehicle through which they experience their rich, fulfilling lives. Because they don’t let the way their body looks inhibit them from participating in activities that bring them joy, they spend less time in self-objectification and more time in embodiment.
Dieters are experts at living from the neck up since they’ve learned that their body is not a ‘safe’ place to be. As a result, they’re very disconnected from their body’s physical cues of not only hunger and fullness, but also the spectrum of human emotions. The first sign of discomfort sends a dieter straight to the refrigerator because food is a quick and effective, although temporary solution to uncomfortable feelings like loneliness or shame. A fundamental part of Intuitive Eating is learning to reconnect with those bodily sensations so you can get your psychological and biological needs met. Intuitive Eaters expand their capacity for uncomfortable emotions because their willingness to sit with them proves they’re nothing more than energy moving through the body.
Weight Loss is an extremely expensive pursuit. It leaves very little time, money, and energy for the things in life that are truly important. Intuitive Eating gives you the freedom to accept spontaneous invitations from friends, honor your fatigue and take a rest without guilt, and indulge in cake for breakfast because it was leftover from last night and just pairs so well with your morning coffee. Your bank account will also thank you for not wasting another dime on the latest diet trend and yo-yo sized wardrobes since your weight finally stabilizes!
The most effective way to express to yourself that you are not acceptable as you are is to relentlessly attempt to fight your own biology. Dieting keeps us hustling for something we were born with and already possess – our innate self-worth. Intuitive Eating helps us realize we deserve pleasure and satisfaction no matter what we look like. We stop prioritizing other people’s opinions of us because we develop a stronger sense of self. It’s a much more grounded way to show up in the world.
A subtle consequence of dieting is a deep sense of self-doubt. Every choice from, ‘Am I hungry or would an apple suffice?’ to ‘Should I apply to that job or am I underqualified?’ has us seeking the answer from outside of ourselves. Dieting robs us of our autonomy and convinces us that we need experts and gurus to guide our every decision. Through the progression of beginning to honor our hunger and prioritize our satisfaction we learn to trust ourselves to make bigger and bigger decisions. Things we previously defaulted to, ‘I don’t know’ we confidently reclaim our authority over because we know that no matter the outcome we’ll have our own back.
If you knew your current exercise routine wouldn’t change the aesthetic of your body, would you still do it? Or maybe you don’t have a current exercise routine because you associate it with pain and punishment. In the middle of these two extremes is a happy medium where joyful movement lives. Diet culture promotes that exercise has to look a certain way to ‘count’. The easiest way to debunk that misconception is to ask yourself, ‘How did I play when I was a kid?’. It removes all the pressure that goes with counting calories, steps, and reps so you can have FUN.
Once you begin to experience all of these benefits firsthand, the numbers lose their significance and there’s no going back. You begin to source the confidence, acceptance, and control you thought dieting would give you through alternative methods. The freedom you feel around eating and the peace you feel in your body outweigh the old programming that used to dictate your life. However, like any change, the process is not linear, and getting started is often the most challenging part. This is exactly why I created the free guide, How to Think About Food Less. I also I help my clients through the process within our 1:1 counseling sessions. We’ll dig into your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings around food and your body so you can deeply heal your relationship with them and start living a bigger, bolder, fuller life!