Heyo! How was everyone's weekend? Do anything especially fun? I'm guessing a few of you kicked back, had fun with friends and family, and ate a little more than you normally do throughout the week. And I bet a few you told yourself over the weekend or last night that you would "get back on your diet" or "start eating healthy" again today. Well, I'm here to say that you shouldn't get back on your diet and instead you should start incorporating some of the principles of intuitive eating.
It's well documented that diets don't work in the long run. They leave us frustrated, ashamed, crazy around food, and heavier than before. It's actually been shown that dieters are more likely to gain weight than non-dieters, independent of genetic factors. It's also been linked to a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. So why do we continue to encourage dieting (ie. restricting food or caloric intake for the purpose of losing weight/changing our body) when it is only harming us in the long run? Why do we allow diet talk to infiltrate our conversations and the way we see food?
I did a post on intuitive eating awhile back and mentioned how it dramatically changed the way that I viewed food and my eating behaviors. I shared with you all the basic premise behind intuitive eating--that our bodies have a certain weight range they want to be at and are very adept at maintaining if we allow them to--and some points on what intuitive eating is and what it is not. Today I wanted to share with you the 10 principles of intuitive eating as defined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.*
1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Quit believing the lies that the next greatest diet or weight loss tip is going to be what finally works for you. Let go of the idea that health is all about weight and that focusing on weight loss is the answer to health and happiness. Reject any promises of the false hope of losing weight quickly.
2. Honor Your Hunger. Your body will let you know when it needs more fuel. Learn to listen to this and honor it. If you allow yourself to get too hungry, you will overcompensate by overeating. Learn to trust your body's cues and let your body learn to trust that you will feed it when it tells you to.
3. Make Peace with Food. Let go of all of the fears associated with eating food that has been deemed "bad" or "unhealthy." Begin to give your permission to eat any and all foods. As you allow yourself to eat whatever you truly want, your cravings and binges will subside because you are no longer depriving yourself. Deprivation/restriction always leads to overeating/bingeing, whereas liberalizing food allows it to lose its power!
4. Challenge the Food Police. Tell that inner critic to shut up when it comes to food. You no longer have to live according to food and exercise rules. Your worth and value aren't found in your "disciple," "willpower," or "control," so don't be deceived into thinking they are. Learn to recognize those thoughts and change them into statements that are true.
5. Respect Your Fullness. Learn to listen to what fullness and satisfaction feel like for you. Check-in with your hunger and fullness throughout your meal and stop eating when you've reached your physical fullness.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Satisfaction is not only about what you eat or how much, but also the environment in which you each. Food was made to be savored and enjoyed. When you find yourself eating the food you really want in a pleasant environment, satisfaction and contentment will increase and your need for more food will decrease.
7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food. Emotional eating is part of being a normal and competent eater. We cannot eat in an emotional vacuum! However, it is when we use food on a regular basis as a way to fill an emotional void or resolve our problems that we are using food in a way that it wasn't intended. Food cannot give you emotional intimacy, change your circumstances, or heal your pain. Learn to address those feelings or situations in a way that will actually resolve them.
8. Respect Your Body. Respecting your body is different from loving your body. You don't have to love it, but recognizing all that it does for you and then taking care of it is super important. We were not all created to be the same shape or size. My size 8.5 foot is no better or worse than my friend's size 6.5 foot. We're just different. Disrespecting your body and wishing it were different (despite it being how you were MADE) will not allow you to reject the diet mentality and eat all foods without fear or restriction.
9. Exercise--Feel the Difference. Moving your body is super important. However, just as weight does not equal health, exercise does not equal health either. Both are one of many factors in the health equation. Learn to move your body for the mental, emotional, and physical benefits rather than the calorie-burning effect. Exercise is not about punishing yourself, changing your body, or earning your food. It is about respecting your body and making it feel good.
10. Honor Your Health. "Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don't have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating." Also remember than sometimes honoring your health means doing things that don't appear "healthy." When exercise starts to control you or food becomes more restrictive, taking a day off (or maybe even a week or two!) at the gym or eating a less nutritious meal can actually be very healthy for you mentally and emotionally.
I know that was a lot of information to take in, but I hope there were points that really resonated with you! What is one principle you can begin to work on today??
*Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.