INTUITIVE EATING: LEARN HOW TO TRUST FOOD & YOUR BODY AGAIN
BY INTUITIVE EATING, BODY POSITIVE COACH, SAIRAH PETTES, OF TURN UP THE LOVE
It’s as simple as noticing that you’re hungry, putting some food into your mouth, and then swallowing.
If only that were the case!
What should be one of the most effortless actions that we take in our day-to-day lives has instead become one of the most complicated.
My guess is that your relationship with food actually looks a little more like this…
You eat "good" Monday-Friday… but the weekend is a whole other story
You’re constantly thinking about food-- what you should/ shouldn’t eat, and what you’ll eat next
You’re eating food you don’t like because you know you’re ‘supposed’ to
You’re skipping out on social events because you can’t handle the anxiety of what to order and the fear of being centred out.
You’re forcing yourself to do another excruciating workout so you can ‘earn’ that piece of brownie cheesecake you’ve been drooling over.
The truth is, we’re feeling even more disconnected from our plates than ever before.
But with the rise of nutritional information being shared en masse from the health and wellness industry you’d think our relationships with food would improve, and we’d have this all figured out by now… right?
The average woman is still spending an alarming $40,000 on her health/wellness in her lifetime, and as a collective we’re dealing with a massive disordered eating epidemic that continues to be on the rise.
So what gives?
We know we should be eating more leafy greens, drinking smoothies, and getting in daily movement -- yet we’re still getting caught up in diet behaviour, eating emotionally, and fearing food.
And I want to help you to fill the gap!
So let me introduce you to the life-altering world of intuitive eating.
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?
In a nutshell? It’s the anti-diet.
Intuitive eating is an approach that’s centred around YOU being the expert of YOUR body, and trusting in the guidance of your own hunger and fullness signals.
Ultimately, it’s about getting into a place where you can be a "normal eater" and focus on having a healthy relationship with food vs. one that’s centred around control, restriction, and rules.
And just in case you’ve been caught up in the world of dieting for yyy-ears on end and you’ve completely forgotten what being a ‘normal eater’ even looks like anymore...
Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full
Eating what you want to eat, not what you think you should eat
Enjoying the pleasure of eating… without the guilt
If you think about it, as children we had no problem with being intuitive eaters!
We knew what it meant to be hungry, and when we were full.
Eating really was just eating, and food was just food!
It’s something we’re born with, but unfortunately diet culture has stripped us from this natural inherent gift.
HOW DO WE GET BACK TO BEING INTUITIVE EATERS?
Before we get to the "how," I first want to share where this idea of intuitive eating even came from.
Because it’s definitely not something I came up with. (I wish!)
The term "Intuitive Eating" was first introduced in the 1990’s by Evelyn Tribole, RD, and Elyse Resch, RDN. Since then, they’ve written several books and participated in numerous research studies on their method.
And in their book Intuitive Eating, they share 10 core principles that will help you to get back to being an intuitive eater.
Forewarning: they are completely liberating and will likely blow your mind that this could even be an option for you! Side effects may include leaving diets behind in the dust!
10 Must Know Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
The diet mentality is the idea that there's a diet out there somewhere that will work for you. But the truth is, diets just don’t work and they aren’t sustainable. To reject the diet mentality is to throw away diet books and magazine articles (or unfollow social media accounts) that promise fast weight loss, and to reject any meal plans that dictate what or how much you can eat.
2. Honour Your Hunger
Hunger is not the enemy! One reason dieting doesn’t work is because it can leave you feeling deprived and physically hungry, which can trigger binging and overeating. So instead of counting calories, tracking your macros, or managing your portions, simply pay attention to your body’s hunger cues.
Once you learn to recognize how these signals feel within your own body, it becomes much easier to communicate with your body and helps to trust your instincts.
3. Make Peace with Food
Call a truce on the war with food. Get rid of ideas and labels about what you "should" or "shouldn't" eat, and give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want!
4. Challenge the Food Police
The "Food Police" is described as the voice in your head that tells you that salad is good and pizza is bad. Food is not "good" or "bad" and you are not good or bad for what you eat or don't eat. Challenge the thoughts and opinions of yourself and others that tell you otherwise.
5. Respect Your Fullness
This goes back to principle #2. Just as your body tells you when it is hungry, it also tells you when it is full. Listen for the signals of comfortable fullness, and pay attention to when your body tells you that you've had enough. As you're eating, check in with yourself to see how you feel. Are you still eating to feed your hunger, or are you eating out of distraction, boredom, or stress?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Get back to a place where your eating experience is an enjoyable one! This is about getting mindful by appreciating the taste and texture of your foods and the environment you’re eating in. Give yourself permission to have foods that taste good to you. When you make eating a pleasurable experience you might find it takes less food to satisfy you.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
Disconnected eating often stems from anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, or stress. This is why getting to the root of these problems is so important! Find other ways that are not related to food to deal with your feelings: take a walk, meditate, journal, call a friend. Become aware of the times when a feeling that you might call hunger is actually based on a triggered emotion.
8. Respect Your Body
This is one of body acceptance. Rather than criticizing your body for how it looks and striving for unrealistic expectations, recognize all that is has done and continues to do for you each and everyday!
9. Exercise — Feel the Difference
You don’t have to spend countless hours grueling it out at the gym. Find ways to move your body that you enjoy! Shift the focus from losing weight to feeling energized, strong, alive, and free in your body.
10. Honour Your Health — Gentle Nutrition
The food you eat should taste good and feel good. Remember that it's your overall food patterns that shape your health. Eating “intuitively” should still involve more fruits and veggies than ice cream. But at the same time, your food choices don’t have to be perfect to be healthy. One meal or snack isn't going to make or break your health.
Although this should be an intuitive process, for many people it's not.
By trusting and relying on diet books and health professionals about what to eat, when to eat, and how much we’ve started to fear food, we discredit our own inner wisdom.
As I said before, no one knows your body better than you do! And after working with several women in this way of all shapes, colours, and sizes, I’ve come to realize that we truly can move from a place of dieting to one of intuitive eating.
But it all starts and ends with you.
If you’re willing to get honest with yourself about where you’re at, what’s working, and what's not, you can absolutely get to a place of food freedom, and trust in food and your body again.
Sairah Pettes is a Body Positive, Intuitive Eating Coach, Certified Energy Healer and the founder of TurnuptheLove.ca. She helps women to stop the diet-cycle by teaching them to throw out their scales, eat intuitively, reconnect with their bodies and let go of "perfectionitis."
Simply put: she’s passionate about introducing women to a world without dieting.
After several years of working as a health coach for Canada’s largest weight loss company, she quickly grew tired of following the corporate road map that presented obesity and low self-esteem as a dollar sign. Since leaving her 9-5 job, she has traveled across the eastern coast of Australia where she learned how to surrender to her body and make peace with food without a rulebook.
Through the power of self-acceptance, Sairah now coaches women worldwide on how to eat with intention, without obsessive restriction and calorie counting, where they learn to love their bodies from the inside out.