Intuitive Eating for the Holidays and for Life

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to dig into Intuitive Eating and removing “good” and “bad” labels from your food as well as removing the feeling of guilt by allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat. Each weekday, I’ll be going through a different principle and finishing just before Thanksgiving. Without Intuitive Eating, I would not have been able to make these beautiful croissants from scratch and enjoy them with my friends. The holidays are all about sharing and spending time with those you love and a big way we do that is through food. For today, we’ll start off with an introduction into Intuitive Eating.

Intuitive eating is a way of nourishing your body with what it is asking for. It was founded by two dietitians and is rooted in unconditional permission to eat and getting rid of any voice that puts you or your food choices down. We use food as so much more than fuel. It is such an important part to how we connect to our environment and the people around us. We use it to understand other cultures, to celebrate, and to be social. Food is central to how we connect with our world.

Intuitive Eating helps to take away the power food has over you. It helps teach you that some foods nourish your body while others nourish your soul. You can’t neglect your body or your soul without disrupting your overall health, so be sure to pay attention to both.

People can have a difficult time with Intuitive Eating because nothing is off limits. With diets, everything is regimented, and you know what you can and can’t eat. With Intuitive Eating, it is a major grey area – nothing is definite, everything can be changed to fit your lifestyle. This leads people to feeling like they will be out of control. If you have unconditional permission to eat cookies 24/7, why wouldn’t you? A lot of times, people are scared to try Intuitive Eating because they don’t trust themselves to not eat cookies 24/7. But sometimes this needs to happen to teach your body that cookies will always be available. When you’ve restricted foods for so long, your brain is wired to want more of them and eat more because they won’t always be available. When you start Intuitive Eating and listening to your body, you will understand that eating cookies 24/7 without guilt doesn’t make you feel great. You start to crave other foods that are more satisfying and contain more nutrients. You don’t get that rush of endorphins from doing something “bad”. Your body knows what it needs, and it will lead you down the right path if you listen and treat it right.

It is in our nature to be Intuitive Eaters. We were born as such! If you watch babies, they eat what they want, when they want, how much they want and stop when they’ve had enough.

Intuitive Eating has shown to help improve psychological health, self-esteem, body image, and overall quality of life. People become more satisfied and feel good!

Intuitive eating is rooted in 10 principles that work together to help you along your journey to food freedom. These include:

Reject the Diet Mentality

Honor Your Hunger

Make Peace with Food

Challenge the Food Police

Respect Your Fullness

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

Respect Your Body

Exercise – Feel the Difference

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

As you embark on this journey through Intuitive Eating, here are some key takeaways to keep in mind:

Intuitive eating is meant to not have rules, which is what can make it difficult, but it is worth it. We are all born intuitive eaters.  With some help, we can get back to being one. Respect yourself by giving your body food it likes that will positively influence your health.

It is easy to turn IE into the hunger and fullness diet but be careful to not go down that path. You are allowed to eat even if you aren’t hungry just because something sounds good. Of course, pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, but they are not the end all be all of when you can eat.

IE is not a diet, but a way to eat throughout your whole life. If you use it for intentional weight loss, you are not getting at the key ideas of respecting your body, rejecting the diet mentality, and likely not making peace with food nor rejecting the food police.

Intuitive Eating can be difficult and take time. There is a lot of self-discovery and rebuilding trust. Give yourself time. This can be very difficult work in order to improve your health and your relationship with food and to make your life easier, but it is absolutely worth it! No one wants to be constantly thinking about food. No one wants certain foods to have powers over you that you can’t control. Give yourself time and let this be a journey of discovery as you go through the principles.  And remember, be kind and compassionate to yourself throughout because you deserve it no matter what!

I hope you find this series helpful to your own eating practices! Have a great holiday season if you are reading this as it was published, and if not, have a great life-long journey!

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