Make Peace with Food: Intuitive Eating for the Holidays and Life
This is one of the hardest principles to work on. It starts with unconditional permission to eat:
-Throw out the idea that certain foods are “good” or “bad.” Don’t give any food the power to trick you into thinking they make your body larger or smaller – they don’t have that power.
-Eat the food you really want. That food that you REALLY want.
-Eat without telling yourself “you’ll be better tomorrow” There are no bargains, and no food deals when making peace with food.
Let’s try a little experiment: Don’t think of a black cat. Now what are you thinking about? Probably a black cat, even though you’re trying not to. But were you thinking of a black cat before I mentioned anything? Probably not. This is the same way our body works when we tell ourselves we can’t have certain foods. Even the thought of future deprivation can trigger your brain to build a strong craving of whatever food may be restricted in the future, which leads to overeating these foods, then often guilt. When you take away a toy from a little kid who wasn’t playing with that toy, they then only want that toy.
Making peace with food is giving all foods space to be in your life, with the exception of those that you may be allergic to or have an intolerance with. Please don’t include those foods. Otherwise, give every other food, the space to be in your life. Don’t let cakes make you feel any guiltier that eating spinach. Once you let yourself eat whatever you want whenever you want, the craving goes away. It may take some time for your body to trust you aren’t going to take it away again, so be patient as you rebuild trust with yourself. This only works if you truly give yourself UNCONDITIONAL PERMISSION. If you have a voice telling you “that is ‘bad’”, “this isn’t eating clean”, or any form of “shouldn’t”, that trust is not there and you are not giving unconditional permission. When this happens, override the voice in your head by telling yourself that this food will be available any time and earn your body’s trust that the statement is true, you CAN have the food whenever you want. Often times, people will eat a lot of the foods they are worried about, but it is ok, because we are retraining your brain. And then they learn that sometimes the food doesn’t taste as good and sometimes, they get sick of the food and don’t want it at the moment. Remember to pay attention to the previous principles. Why are you eating this food, is it out of true hunger, emotional hunger, are you eating the food to rebel or because society tells you it’s a “good” food. Listen to what your body is telling you.
At this point in the intuitive eating process, focusing too much on the nutrient content of a food can set you up for disordered eating behaviors. We’ll get to that section, but it is important you build up trust with your body.