Take a minute to think of one occasion, holiday, or gathering that does not involve food. You’re probably having trouble thinking of one, right? Food is such a big part of our lives and without it, none of us would be here. Food brings people together, fuels our bodies, and gives us pleasure.
Despite the necessity and joys of eating, we constantly receive messages that demonize food. We live in a society that is obsessed with weight loss and thinness, and are reminded of this daily by social media posts, magazines, and even the advice of some health professionals. How do they promote weight loss? By promising quick fixes in the form of fad diets. As a result, we go from one diet to another, thinking the next diet will be different, but the cycle never ends. We might see a couple pounds drop on the scale and start to feel excited and empowered, but this is only temporary. Soon we regain the weight we lost, and maybe even additional weight beyond that. When we don’t see promising results as expected, we believe it’s our fault and feel guilty, weak, and ashamed. It seems like everyone else got it right, and we are the only ones who have failed.
You may be surprised to learn that being unable to lose weight or sustain weight loss from a diet has nothing to do with your willpower! The bottom line is, diets don’t work. Additionally, they are destructive to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Dieting slows our metabolisms and makes food the enemy. It encourages us to restrict foods we love, which causes intense cravings and sometimes bingeing, and most definitely diminishes our happiness. Who would want to feel this way?! It is also known that repeated dieting can lead to the development of eating disorders, which have many additional health consequences. Dieting simply causes more harm than good. So, what is the best alternative to dieting? Let me introduce you to Intuitive Eating.
First, a little background on Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an approach to health and food that has nothing to do with dieting, meal plans, control, or strictness. It teaches you how to get in touch with your body’s cues for hunger, fullness, and satisfaction, while learning to trust yourself around food again. We are all born as natural intuitive eaters. However, as we get older, we are continuously exposed to diet culture, receiving false messages about food and our bodies, which suppresses our natural intuitive eating ability. But there is hope! Fortunately, we can all reawaken the intuitive eaters within us.
There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating that help normalize our relationship with food and our bodies:
Reject the Diet Mentality
Honor Your Hunger
Make Peace with Food
Challenge the Food Police
Feel Your Fullness
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
Respect Your Body
Exercise-Feel the Difference
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Throughout the next several weeks I will be writing about each principle and how we can implement these principles in daily life. I will be referencing the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
As you begin to work on and heal your relationship with food and your body, remember to be compassionate towards yourself and trust that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Here at Restore Family Therapy, we have dietitians and therapists who specialize in Intuitive Eating and can help you awaken your natural intuitive eating ability. If you are interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating or the eating disorder treatment we provide, please reach out for a free consultation at restoreft.com.