Intuitive Eating: Make Peace With Food
Learning intuitive eating is a journey, and one that takes practice. To help you out, we’re going to go through the principles of Intuitive Eating one by one. If this is the first blog you’re reading, pause here and go back to our earlier blogs in the series, which will help you learn how to say goodbye to dieting and become attuned to your biological hunger.
If you’ve read our earlier blogs, you’ll understand that external cues pull us further away from an awareness of what our body wants and needs, and the goal of intuitive eating is to listen in to our bodies cues in order to guide decision making about what, when, and how much we eat. A big part of this process is giving yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods, free of judgement, justification, or shame. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with intensity and overwhelming guilt.
When I was stuck in my disordered eating, I used to really struggle with potato chips. I’d feel a sense of dread when I knew there was an open bag in the pantry, and it would take enormous amounts of headspace and energy to keep myself away. Potato chips have always been a favourite of mine, but in my mind, they were a ‘bad food’, and I was bad if I ate them or wanted them. Inevitably, after a day of restriction, I’d often find myself standing at the pantry late at night, desperately and mindlessly stuffing potato chips in my mouth. This was always followed up with crushing guilt and the promise that I’d never eat potato chips again. Now that I’ve embraced intuitive eating, I can keep open bags of potato chips in the pantry. I can have a couple and then feel satisfied. Some days I have them, some days I don’t. I never binge on them anymore, because I know I can have however much I want.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the creators of intuitive eating, like to describe making peace with food as the ‘paradox principle’ of Intuitive Eating, because when you finally give yourself unconditional permission to eat, it removes the urgency & excitement of ‘fear foods’. For example, when I gave myself permission to eat the potato chips, I found that they were actually less desirable. In this way, making peace with food means that we are less likely to binge eat, emotionally eat, and eat without paying attention to our internal cues. It’s important to remember that making peace with food is more than “eating whatever you want, whenever you want”, and like anything else, needs to be done with a solid foundation of mindful eating, self-care and self-compassion (good sleep, regular meals and snacks, adequate water, mindful movement). Check out the infographic above, and practice the process for yourself!
If you want to read more about this process, we’d suggest picking up Laura Thomas’ book, ‘Just Eat It’, which can be found here.
This blog is not a substitute for medical, psychological, or dietetic advice, and is for informational and educational purposes only. If you or somebody you love is struggling, contact your GP, or call/text 1737 to speak to a licensed therapist.