I distinctly remember the first time I heard the term “Intuitive Eating.” I came across it during one of my desperate attempts to find a diet that would actually work. It caught my attention because it seemed like a permanent positive change, but I was immediately disappointed that it was going to take so long and didn’t have a definite end point. I abandoned it at the time, but came back to it when I was ready -- finally at diet “rock bottom.”
The transformation into an intuitive eater is a process, and it does take some time. In the land of “quick-fix” dieting, it may seem like an impossible waste of time with no guaranteed success.
So what’s the point? Why should you spend your time and energy learning a completely new way of thinking about food and your body, when you might not even lose weight?
Measure of Success
In the realm of health improvement, we really only have one measure of success. High blood pressure? Lose weight. Joint pain? Lose weight. Diabetes? Cancer? Sleep apnea? Just go on a diet and lose some weight.
It’s compelling, because it seems so straightforward and simple, doesn’t it? Just do these things, and your life will be better. Just eat less and exercise more, and you’ll have a different body. Just don’t eat carbs or eat after 6pm, and you’ll be happy. Just count your calories and exercise 30 minutes each day, and you’ll have control over your life again.
When you put it that way, I kind of want to try it now, too! The problem is, I’ve been there and done that, and probably so have you. How many times have you started a new diet, maybe on Monday morning, full of all the motivation and determination in the world, only to fail miserably a few weeks, days, or even hours later? And you may have also noticed that each attempt gets harder, your motivation doesn’t last as long, and the backlash bingeing and weight-gain gets worse each time.
There are scientific reasons that diets fail. It’s not because you’re weak, or don’t have enough will-power, or are gluttonous. It’s not because your body is betraying you, or you have terrible genes, or God doesn’t want you to be happy. It’s because we evolved to survive famine, and your body thinks diets mean that food is scarce. So it kicks into overdrive to keep you safe, store reserves, and conserve energy. It’s actually a wonderful, reliable, helpful process, and the people with the most energy reserves are the genetic winners! Congratulations on your survival skills!
Also, and I know this may come as a shock, but being thin does not solve all your problems. It doesn’t automatically make you healthier or more confident. It doesn’t make people like you more or get you more money. It won’t help your marriage or catapult your career into the next dimension. Your body is not the problem, and it’s dangerous to assume that changing it will improve your life.
Getting What You Actually Want
What do you really want? If you said “to lose weight,” take it a step further than that. How do you want to feel? What do you think losing weight will do for you?
I’ve asked myself and my clients these questions countless times, and the answers always have a lot to do with freedom, confidence, and happiness. When you think you can’t get those things until you lose weight, you put a giant roadblock on your path to success. The fact of the matter is that freedom, confidence, and happiness come from self-respect and thorough self-acceptance.
Intuitive eating is a primary way to reconnect with your body, learn to respect yourself again, and honor your individual needs. Learning how to effectively and lovingly nourish yourself and take care of yourself is the foundation for every other successful venture of your life.
Supporting your physical health, enhancing your emotional well-being, and giving you peace and freedom are the goals of intuitive eating. I’m here to tell you that putting food back in its proper place in your life gives you joy that no diet could possibly ever give you. It’s authentic happiness, that comes from a place of love and confidence rather than self-loathing and insecurity.
What Does Freedom Really Feel Like?
Can you imagine how it would feel to sit down to a meal, EVERY meal, with excitement and confidence? Picture yourself happily perusing the entire menu, thinking about what sounds good and what your body is asking for at that moment. Or, imagine driving home from work and thinking about what sounds good for dinner, and stopping at the grocery store to get exactly what you want. Picture getting up from the table fully satisfied, sated, happy, and comfortable. And best of all, think about being able to eat and move on -- not thinking about food again until it’s time for the next meal or your body lets you know it’s ready for more.
Is it possible for you to spend your evening reading, interacting with family, cleaning, watching TV, or working, without wandering through the kitchen repeatedly to graze on more chocolate? Can you really eat whatever sounds good at every meal, and not gain weight out-of-control? Can you move through your life, focusing on your hopes and dreams and aspirations, without being obsessed with getting your hands on another snack or trying to avoid stopping at the donut shop as you drive by? Can you improve your health, letting the way you feel (rather than the number on the scale) determine whether you’re successful?
Yes, yes, and yes! Intuitive eating makes this ALL possible, even probable! I’ve experienced the whole process myself, and I’ve witnessed countless other women find freedom from the obsession with food and dieting. Eating confidently and feeling wonderful in my body is fabulous, but the best part is seeing how my life actually opened up when I could take my focus off of food and figure out why God put me on this earth. Intuitive eating is about so much more than peace with food, but food is a necessary and exciting starting point.
Yes, it’s worth it. To know in your heart that you’re worthy of having everything you want, no matter what your body looks like. To be able to pursue your dreams and have limitless self-confidence. To do what you want, without a thought to how you look or what people will think. To be unapologetically, authentically, and perfectly YOU.
Commit to doing things differently, and watch the transformation!
For more information on the health aspects of Intuitive Eating, check out “Body Respect,” by Drs. Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramore.
To get started on your Intuitive Eating journey, read “Intuitive Eating,” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
You can also schedule a free 15-minute call with me, to discuss your specific challenges and figure out the next best step for you.
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