I hope your 2017 is off to a great start and that you were able to enjoy the holidays with those you love. Today I’m picking up where I left off with my intuitive eating overview. Part 1 can be found here. I wasn’t sure if I would get this post up today, then within 20 minutes of a morning TV show, Bob Harper told me to weigh myself every day and weigh everything I eat. Then, a dietitian came on and PROMISED me I’ll lose weight if I use the hunger and fullness scale. So, I wanted to do my part and put a more positive message out there-one that encourages you to tune external messages out and listen to yourself as the expert of your own body.
Satisfaction is the driving factor of the intuitive eating process. You might be afraid you won’t stop eating if food is pleasurable, but remember that deprivation is a key contributor to backlash eating. If your order a salad when you really want steak (or vice versa), you won’t be satisfied by that meal. I know when I do this, I find myself on a food chase later in the day, trying to find a food that will truly satisfy me.
One quote I loved from this chapter is, “If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” Again, this is not a rule! Sometimes I eat food I don’t love-whether that’s because I don’t have better options or I can’t pinpoint what I really want. Sometimes I turn down food because I’m full or I really don’t like that food. You have the right to do what’s best for you.
Food is meant to be enjoyable, fun, and is a way to bring people together and celebrate big events. It can be comforting at times, but you don’t want food to be the only way you cope with pain and loneliness. Sometimes food might be the only way you know to deal with a tough situation. Give yourself grace and acknowledge that food can help you at times, but also seek out other ways to work through your emotions.
Accept your genetic blueprint. The authors write, “Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation about body size.” This doesn’t mean you should disregard your health; it means the complete opposite! Take care of yourself and the body you have right now through gentle nutrition and movement from a place of self-compassion, rather than self-control. Let your weight settle where it may (hello, Health at Every Size!).
I’ve discussed my journey to body respect on here before, so I know this step is easier said than done. I still have days I struggle with this-body acceptance requires work throughout life. Respect is the beginning of making peace with your body. You don’t have to like or love every part of your body to treat it with respect.
Exercise because of how moving your body makes you feel-not to burn calories or as penance for eating. Regular movement is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age or weight. Among other benefits, exercise is energizing, reduces stress, and improves fitness and quality of life. If you feel the difference when you exercise regularly, why would you stop?
The key here is to find movement you enjoy. So often exercise is viewed as a chore and people think you have to crank out hours in the gym to reap benefits. That’s not true! Activities as simple as walking and gardening benefit your mental and physical health. If you do enjoy cranking out hours in the gym, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work out more to feel good, but don’t let it consume you and interfere with your life.
I absolutely love the concept of gentle nutrition. Nutrition is an important part of health and plays a role in preventing chronic disease. Hello, I’m in school for this for a reason! However, I don’t believe it’s necessary for us to be so obsessed over food. There’s a lot of fear about food in our country and insane amount of conflicting advice. This is partially due to the fact that nutrition science is relatively new and not set in stone. It’s regularly evolving and there’s no “perfect” way to eat! In addition, food preference and access to food is highly individual.
The authors suggest balancing your body’s cues and nutrition guidelines with the pleasure of eating. They discuss the following nutrition recommendations:
I really like that these guidelines are simple and grounded in solid evidence. I also wanted to share this quote from Elyse Resch: “Much of what I eat considers my health, and sometimes I eat things just for pleasure.” I am considering getting this tattooed on my forehead. Eating foods with low nutritional value does not make you an unhealthy eater. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Sometimes a cookie or slice of cheesecake is just what you need, and I think it’s pretty healthy to have a good relationship with food and be able to honor that craving.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part series on Intuitive Eating. I read the fifth edition, which included two extra chapters: one on raising an intuitive eater, and another on the science behind Intuitive Eating. There are a lot of misconceptions about this approach, so I really enjoyed the chapter on the evidence and the positive health outcomes associated with intuitive eating. Even though I was not a chronic dieter, I have found this book and approach extremely helpful and empowering.
Let me know if you read the book! I think it would make a fabulous New Year’s gift to yourself. If you’ve already read it, did you enjoy it as much as I did?