Rose Mattson, RD

Is intuitive eating right for you?

Hi everyone and happy new start of the week! This weekend was glorious and sunny, so we kept the windows open and spent some time outside. Next weekend we are finally planning a hike, which I am SO excited about! Plan is to hike on Antelope Island where there are lots of buffalo. Anyone who knows the protocol for encountering buffalo can let me know! Other than that, this past week was a nice change from my normal extremely busy schedule so that was really great too!

This week, I wanted to do a short recap of all things intuitive eating.

The goal of intuitive eating is for you to develop a healthy relationship with food and your body.

Intuitive eating is not centered around weight. While some people may lose weight when practicing intuitive eating, others may gain weight or stay at the same weight. This can be scary, which I totally understand.

If you are considering working to improve your relationship with food and your body, weight needs to be put on a back-burner. That doesn’t mean we would never talk about weight, but that weight loss/gain cannot be your main priority, and manipulation and/or restriction of foods will not allow you to fully engage in intuitive eating. Basically it’s like, hey let’s just take weight out the equation for a second because beating ourselves up has never helped us reach our health goals. But please know that any concerns you have about weight are valid and worthy of conversation.

Sunday breakfast – toast + sunny-side up eggs + strawberries + bacon

Here is a short quiz to see if intuitive eating may be right for you! Answer yes or no to the following questions:

Unconditional permission to eat.

  1. I try to avoid certain foods high in fat, carbs, or calories.
  2. If I am craving a certain food, I don’t allow myself to have it.
  3. I follow eating rules of diet plans that dictate what, when and/or how to eat.
  4. I get mad at myself for eating something unhealthy.
  5. I have forbidden foods that I don’t allow myself to eat.

Eating for emotional rather than physical reasons.

  1. I find myself eating when I’m feeling emotional (anxious, sad, depressed), even when  I am not physically hungry.
  2. I find myself eating when I am bored, even when I am not physically hungry.
  3. I cannot stop eating when I feel full.
  4. I find myself eating when I am lonely, even when I am not physically hungry.
  5. I use food to help soothe my negative emotions.
  6. I find myself eating when I am stressed, even when I am not physically hungry.

Reliance on internal hunger/satiety cues. 

  1. I cannot tell when I am slightly full.
  2. I cannot tell when I am slightly hungry.
  3. I do not trust my body to tell me when to eat.
  4. I do not trust my body to tell me what to eat.
  5. I do not trust my body to tell me how much to eat.
  6. When I am eating, I cannot tell when I am getting full.

If you answered yes to many of these questions, there are some opportunities for growth! The ten main principles of intuitive eating, which I have listed below, may allow you to further see if this is a good fit for you.

1. Reject the diet mentality.

Remember that about 95-98% of diets fail in the long term. You are not failing the diet; the diet is failing you. And constantly dieting can cause biological, psychological, and emotional damage. I encourage you to forget disciple, obedience, and failure, to get rid of your dieting tools, and try and be self-compassionate. You are so much more than how you look, or how much you weigh. Read more here! 

2. Honor your hunger 

Try and tune in to those hunger cues. Where are you on the hunger scale? Allow yourself to eat when you are hungry and honor your body by giving it enough energy. Carbs are your friend. Remember that your hunger will not look like anyone else’s and that your hunger levels will differ depending on the day!

Basketball with a view!

3. Make peace with food 

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. Remember that deprivation and restriction often leads to binging and feelings of guilt. Can you have your favorite foods around all the time? Remember that you can eat what you want, whenever you want! Eat those foods without penance – you don’t need to earn anything to eat!

4. Challenge the food police

There are no “good” or “bad” foods; food is neutral. Forget willpower, and be kind to yourself. Challenge those voices that may tell you otherwise, be a neutral observer, and replace them with positive and productive thoughts.

5. Feel your fullness

Can you use mindfulness principles to help you tune in to your hunger?

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

Food should taste good! Forget the days of dry, bland health foods and choose things that nourish both your body and mind! Pleasure and satisfaction from food are so important. You have the right to enjoy what you are eating!

7. Cope with your emotions without using food

Using food to cope with emotions is ok, but can you also use other self-care tools? Ask – what do I really need? Remember that feelings are normal and just because you feel things and then eat sometimes, does not make you a bad person, or mean that something is wrong with you. How can we get to the bottom of what you are feeling?

8. Respect your body

Body image is tough. While you may not love everything about your body, can you find several things you respect about it? Can you appreciate what your body is able to do for you? Take some time to notice if you are consistently body checking yourself and others, and identify how that makes you feel.

Home-made ramen!

9. Exercise – feel the difference

How does moving your body make you feel? Can you shift your mindset away from numbers? Find movement that you love, that makes you feel strong and empowered, and that can make you think more clearly. Strong is good ladies!

10. Honor your health – gentle nutrition

Nutrition is actually the last piece of intuitive eating and can help you choose options that will keep you full and satisfied. Remember that progress, not perfection, is the most important.

So there you go – a recap of all things intuitive eating. Keep in mind that intuitive eating is not another diet. While these are the principles, they are not hard and fast rules, simply guidelines to help foster a positive relationship with food and body. This process will not occur overnight, and will likely take several months or years to occur.

For those of you thinking like yeah – a good food relationship is all good and dandy, but I still want to lose weight and/or be healthier, that’s totally normal and still ok! Just remember – research has shown that weight alone does not equal health. And the truth is that weight cannot be so tightly controlled as everyone makes it seem. I would argue that having a positive relationship with food allows you to experience life more brightly, and once that relationship is secure, talking about positive nutrition choices is absolutely helpful.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! Have a great week!



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