Intuitive Eating – Part 4

Check out the introduction, rejecting the dieting mentality, and honoring your hunger for the first posts of this series on Intuitive Eating!
Today we will look at Principle #3 – Make Peace with Food.
I think this principle is one that I feel most strongly about. And it fits in perfectly with my earlier post about “Can’t” and an email I got from a reader today. I could not agree more with our need to make peace with food. I truly think this is the basis that will help make all the other facets easier to incorporate into how you view food and relate to it. However, I also think it is the hardest.
Many of us, especially the fit bloggin’ community, have spent numerous hours researching the “best” way to eat for health. Learning what foods are optimal or hindering for our goals. Figuring out all sorts of rules, tips, and guidelines about how to eat. But, do we really need all of that? At some point, the information stops being helpful and becomes hindering. It can lead to restrictions and guilt and stress.

I know I have faced my fair share of food guidelines that ended in very negative actions on my part. Namely binging and a very horrible self image. Why did I do these things? Because I “shouldn’t” eat food A. Because food B would make me gain weight fast. Because food C is only meant to be consumed around tough workouts. This food is good. That food is bad. I am bad. I did good today. I was awful and I must make up for it tomorrow. Tomorrow…..tomorrow….tomorrow….binged again….tomorrow.
You know when this all stopped? Sadly, it took me getting pregnant with Makenzie and waking up to realize there was more to my body than myself. I wanted to take care of her, but also, I knew I should be eating more and I allowed things that were always “off limits” before to be part of my regular diet. The negativity surrounding certain things stopped. I didn’t feel guilty for having some icecream. Or for eating a piece of fruit more than once in a day. Or for having starchier veggies instead of solely green beans and asparagus (which I STILL cannot eat since my first comp prep 3 years ago). The cravings died down. Knowing that if I truly wanted something I could have it made it not have to be a “last supper” type of feast when I “allowed” myself to eat certain things.

I also learned that my body craved balance. I wouldn’t want to just eat and eat tons of sugar because I recognized how it made me feel. And that is what kept me from binging again. I could have a cookie and not feel bad. I could have pizza and move on with life. I could eat an amount of things I wanted that left me feeling satisfied, instead of uncomfortably full. And after eating something heavier, I would always go back to eating fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, etc because it was what my body wanted. Removing labels from food freed me in a way I could not have imagined. I no longer had to face the “what the hell, I’ll just eat everything in sight today” moments after having a “bad diet day”. I could eat in a balanced way, enjoy it, and not be focused on food.
In the book Intuitive Eating, they discuss a seesaw affect. When we have our good & bad food lists, the more deprived we are the less guilt we have. However, the seesaw can only go so high. Our deprivation (or “good” eating) can only go so far before we cave. Then the seesaw swings to the opposite with guilt high and deprivation low. [Source]

However, if we reject the diet mentality and make peace with food, our lives can be in equilibrium. We can have NO deprivation and NO guilt. It doesn’t have to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. It can be a smooth ride instead. What are some steps we can take to truly allowing ourselves to not only honor our hunger by eating enough, but also to choose what we really want at a meal?

  • Accept the fact that no one food has the power to make you fat or fit. Throw out the good and bad food lists.
  • Eat what you want without feeling the need to earn it or pay penance for it.
  • Try foods and see if they really appeal to you. If they do, enjoy them. Sometimes we simply lust after certain foods for the fact we “can’t” have them.
  • Take things one step at a time. You don’t have to open yourself to eating everything you previously wouldn’t allow yourself to eat. Try incorporating one trigger food at a time. Eventually, simply knowing the food is available if you want it takes the focus off of it and reduces the cravings and desires to eat so much of it.
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14 Responses to Intuitive Eating – Part 4

  1. Love the advice! I definitely have my fair share with food guilt.

  2. sophia says:

    AWESOME post, Tina. I want to print it out and just frame it or something….Very wisely, eloquently, and well said! I totally agree, 100% with what you’re saying.
    A lot of these extreme health obsession that I see constantly in the blogosphere really worries me. At some point, it definitely becomes a huge stumbling block in your life. It happened to me once, so I recognize it when I see it in others.

    Also, God made a miraculous body. Come on, give it more credit. The body knows what is good for it. Just listen to it.

  3. Vicky says:

    Great post Tina!
    I think this is the hardest part of intuitive eating. Even though i do have the occasional treat and i KNOW it’s not bad and even good for sanity. Somewhere underlying i’ll be thinking i’m doing something wrong.

    TGIF! 😉

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m enjoying this series. I do think that Intuitive Eating is the way to go. I have a history of stress-eating, and focusing on eating intuitively is helping with that tendency, as well!

  5. Oh this one is so true. I have really enjoyed reading these posts by the way. I think they’re spot on.

  6. balancingbrianne says:

    great post, tina. i started being *less* mindful about my eating these past couple of months, and it’s done wonders for my “bad and/or good” food philosophy. i simply eat when i’m hungry, which shocks my peers because sometimes i skip breakfast (the HORRORS) or lunch, even, because i’m NOT hungry. and then when i’m hungry, i eat what sounds good – and only real food. it feels…free.

  7. What a great post! I need to learn to listen to my hunger cues more and realize when I’m satisfied versus stuff, hungry versus bored, etc.

  8. lisaou11 says:

    I’ve noticed that since Im allowing all foods many foods that I thought I really wanted or enjoyed, I dont even enjoy that much! It’s so true, when you say you can’t have something, you immediately want it and before you know it you scarfed it down without even really tasting it! Once you really allow yourself to enjoy and taste it, half the time you realize you dont even enjoy it that much!

  9. Salah says:

    this is a great post, I’m usually good at intuitive eating, but once I get around a buffet (really only pizza buffets) I don’t have any self control whatsoever.

  10. Kelly says:

    Awesome Tina…I love this!! You are such an inspiration…I hope you know that!

  11. I loved this, Tina. I hope and pray I can get to the point one day where I can say I fully trust myself around certain foods. I’ve been “all or nothing” for so long about so many foods, it’d be nice to have a “normal” relationship with them again! This was very inspiring and I thank you – I will be referring back to this often. 🙂

  12. homecookedem says:

    I’ve definitely had my all or nothing times in my life. This was another fabulous post that I know will inspire women to heal their relationship with food. Thanks for such insight and sharing your experiences. I’m doing better, but I hope one day to completely be an intuitive eater. It’s hard work getting there.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Tina, I am so glad that you have done this series of posts on intuitive eating. You have brought up so many factors that I can and have related to at some point in me life. Factors such as, the last supper, or labeling food, or having a “good day” or a “Bad day” and then decide to eat everything in sight. When you talk of pregnancy helping you overcome your problems, I can actually say the same for my new braces. My teeth have been sore since Wednesday and the only thing I can eat is soft foods, and even that can be painful. But it has taught me to truly listen to when my body is hungry and also one major important thing, eat my food slower! I always ate my food fast. Now, I don’t have a choice unless I want to be in pain. So these braces have been a blessing in disguise. Thanks for this informative post.

  14. Sweet and Fit says:

    this was another amazing post – thanks so much for your insight. I agree with everything you said, but would never be able to put it into words, this part really makes sense to me “my body craved balance”. I naturally eat less on days I go out to a big dinner the night before

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