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 much. Eating intuitive is already 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:
- Just eat. A lot. And feel how you feel
- Pay attention to how your body feels ALL THE TIME, not just when eating
- Once your food fears are gone, you will start to eat intuitively. No hunger scales involved
- Intuitive Eating isn’t all or nothing, every day is different. Some day’s you’ll be more in tune than others
- 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