Why I Don’t Teach Intuitive Eating

When people are learning not to diet, normally the first thing they try to learn is “intuitive eating”… which often backfires.

“Intuitive eating”, in it’s most essential meaning, is great. Eating intuitively is what we all can and should be doing. Eating should be effortless and stress-free. And it should be nearly thoughtless to figure our what you want to eat, how much, and when you stop eating.

Eating intuitively CAN be learned.

But when you start teaching an obsessive, disordered eater to “rate their hunger” and “make sure they are only eating when they are hungry” and to “stop at a certain number” on the “hunger-fullness scale”…. that is a recipe for DISASTER: more worry, obsession, and fears over “not doing it right”.

While I would never encourage anyone to not get in tune with their own hunger signals, I think people should do it on their own time, at their own pace, and generally not worry about it too. Eating intuitive is intuitive. Stop over-complicating it. Once diet thoughts, and restriction, and fear are out of the way …the body just eats intuitively. That is the definition.

Listening to your body is always a good thing, but don’t let silly rules get in your way.

Chronic dieters cling to intuitive eating rules because it makes them feel safe. It makes them feel like they still have control and a way to tell if they are “doing it right”.

Guess what? There IS NO “DOING IT RIGHT”.

This is eating, not math homework. Every single person and every single day is different. Every person has a different way of “normal eating”. You can’t eat normally like someone else, because their normal doesn’t mean it is right for you.

These are the kinds of things that intuitive eating can teach you if you listen long enough. If you had been doing this since you were a child and had never dieted, you’d do it without blinking. But since you learned some whacky habits and fears, you have to slowly get back there again.

REAL intuitive eating is not about “rules”. REAL intuitive eating does not involve a numbered hunger scale and perfect satiation. Because remember? Perfect satiation doesn’t exist.

So, in conclusion here are some actions I encourage:

  1. Just eat. A lot. And feel how you feel
  2. Pay attention to how your body feels ALL THE TIME, not just when eating
  3. Once your food fears are gone, you will start to eat intuitively. No hunger scales involved
  4. Intuitive Eating isn’t all or nothing, ever day is different. Some day’s you’ll be more in tune than others
  5. There is no “doing it right”, and once you are actually eating (and living) intuitively, your way of doing it right will be the only way to follow

(I post monthly on this site, but I release posts weekly only through emails!)

7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Teach Intuitive Eating

  1. I remember I had tried gaining control of my eating disorder and I had relied on ‘Intuitive Eating’ It was so stressful for me that I always ended up freaking out and over eating! Than, like you, I just said ‘Fuck it’ ate a lot for a while and now things are really chill and kinda awesome. So, I’m really glad I found your blog! You helped push me a long my path to recovery. Thank you.

  2. I think this is marvelous advice. Paying attention to how foods make you feel is really important. I was giving myself a lot of extra challenges like cutting out wheat or sugar or gluten, when those foods weren’t bothering me. What was bothering me, I think were super high fat foods, especially restaurant foods, but sometimes even home made, grass fed, etc. I gave myself all kinds of excuses (I’m detoxing) but the reality is that I feel better when I eat less fat.

    For me now, the challenge is to distinguish between a real craving that my body is having and a binge that is caused by feeling deprived. I think the key here again is to see how you feel. If you feel crappy physically after eating a bunch of something than it was probably a binge and if you feel better than it was a craving. It’s difficult to let go of the shame associated with binging and craving but I don’t think you can ever get past those things unless you do.

  3. I agree right with you sister! For disordered eaters ‘Intuitive eating’ can be pseudo-dieting. Anyway, it’s far too much effort and very distracting to actively think about hunger and fullness yah-da all the time. When I stopped dieting I wanted to be free from obsession not still with it. Go with the flow and everything will be okay :)

  4. Liberty says:

    Very well written! It’s time women stop trying to be so flesh-LESS and embrace existing and living. Good job and keep them coming!

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