My Intuitive Eating Journey

DISCLAIMER: IN THIS POST I AM SHARING MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES and beliefs- I AM NOT A licensed nutrition PROFESSIONAL. I AM NOT ATTEMPTING TO DIMINISH OR DISCREDIT ANYONE ELSE’S EXPERIENCES OR THOUGHTS. I UNDERSTAND NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH ME AND THAT’S OK! I’M ALWAYS OPEN TO CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION IN THE COMMENTS, I JUST ASK THAT YOU ARE RESPECTFUL! 🙂 This post may contain affiliate links! 

When I talk to people about Intuitive Eating (IE) they’re always quick to tell me, in one way or another, that “it sounds too good to be true” or that “it’s not for them”- which I can’t fault them for because I used to believe that too. But something we don’t seem to remember is that we’re all born intuitive eaters!

Think about it- when you were a baby, were you thinking about the amount of calories or grams of carbs in the food you were eating? No, because all you knew was to cry when you were hungry and to stop when you were full. That’s IE in a nutshell. But it’s so much more than that! It’s about rejecting everything you’ve learned from diet culture in regards to food and your body. It’s about getting back in tune with your natural instincts- listening to your hunger and fullness cues and honoring your cravings. It’s about giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. It’s about treating yourself and your body with the respect it deserves- far, far away from the grasps of diet culture.

Before I discovered IE, all I had known was dieting and the deliberate pursuit of weight loss to make my body smaller. Growing up in a larger body my entire life I know personally what it’s like to experience discrimination based on the size of my body. Whether it was from the media, random people on the street, or my own friends and family, I’m no stranger to being judged based on my weight, the size of my body, and the food I put in mouth- but it wasn’t until I was 24 and found myself knee deep in an eating disorder that I discovered my pursuit of the thin ideal was not worth losing my sanity over, or even more important, my life over.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to mention a few things:

  1. This is my journey and my journey alone- the purpose of this post is not to compare your experience to mine.
  2. Like mentioned in the disclaimer, I am not a nutrition professional. Although I am currently in school pursuing the field of Dietetics I am not licensed in any way. Again- I’m only sharing my personal experience here.
  3. I’m not going to go into the multitude of scientific studies, research, and data that prove diets don’t work- I’ll save that for another post.
  4. After reading this post I hope that you’ll educate yourself further and read the book Intuitive Eating. In addition to Intuitive Eating and The Intuitive Eating Workbook, I’ve listed some of my other favorite IE  resources at the bottom of this post!

Now let’s get to the reason we’re all here- My Intuitive Eating Journey! 🙂

I know it may sound cliche when I say this, but IE not only changed my life- it saved my life.

I understand how far fetched that sounds- but it’s 100% true. It saved my life by offering me freedom from the dangerous and deadly grasps of both my eating disorder and diet culture. It saved my life by giving me my life back.

After I started eating intuitively, I was able to enjoy spending time with family and friends again. I was able to laugh again. I was able to leave my house without having an anxiety attack. I was able to go to a party or gathering and not have to worry about the food. For the first time in my life I finally felt freedom. 

{Sidebar} Something that I want to point out is that IE is for everyone- not just for those in recovery from an ED. When I began recovery from my ED and subsequently began IE- with guidance and support from my absolutely AMAZING non-diet and Health at Every Size Dietitian Michelle (p.s. If you’re anywhere near Burlington, Iowa I 1000% recommend paying her a visit 🙂 )- my mom also started her journey with IE. She doesn’t have a history of an ED but she does have a history with chronic dieting (yes, that’s a real thing). The cover of IE actually says, “Make peace with food and free yourself from chronic dieting forever, rediscover the pleasures of eating“. So remember, although I found IE after battling an ED, that doesn’t mean that you have to do the same- IE is for everyone who has been a victim of diet culture and chronic dieting or just any person ever!

Ok, now back to my story- haha 🙂

I’m pretty sure IE was the fastest I’ve ever read a book in my life. I can vividly remember sitting on my mom’s porch reading the book at what felt like lighting speed (I’m normally a very slllooowwww reader). I also remember crying (both happy and sad tears) and telling my mom through my tears over and over “I think they wrote this book about my life…” because I could personally relate to every single word I read.

To give a little context about what I was reading in that book- there are 10 principles in IE. NOT RULES. I repeat, not rules. The principles are meant to guide, not govern, you on your journey to food and body freedom! They are as follows:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace With Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Feel Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise- Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

Like I mentioned earlier I devoured this book quickly- like in 48 hours quickly. I started applying and working through the 10 principles slowly but surely (unlike me reading the book, the principles are definitely not something to be rushed) .

But I’m not going to lie- it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to undo 20+ years of being told, both by myself and others, that I needed to be in a smaller body or that I needed to eat (or not eat) X Y Z in order to be “healthy” or that I needed to work out X amount of days for X amount of time to be deemed a worthy human. And sadly, I still have to fight those voices both inside and outside my head everyday- but, unlike before, I’m now equipped with the knowledge of knowing how much harm dieting and the deliberate pursuit of weight loss causes.

It was in 2014 when I started out on my pursuit for perfect “health”- even though I had nothing wrong with my health or otherwise- thats when things started to change for me. That pursuit of “health” eventually led me directly into the arms of an ED and it wasn’t until I found IE that I truly felt at peace with food and at home in my body for the first time in my life.

Real talk- IE scared the heck out of me at first. I didn’t trust myself to tell me when I was full. I didn’t trust myself to tell me what to eat. I thought I would keep eating pizza and brownies for every meal for the rest of my life. But yet, here I am almost 2 years later feeling more free and healthy than ever. 

Do I eat and enjoy cookies, cake, fast food, and ice cream? You bet! Do I eat and enjoy salads, fruits, lean meats and veggies? Yep! To me, there is no such thing as good and bad foods- there’s just food.

Once I gave myself unconditional permission to eat and saw all foods as neutral (no food is better than another) those thoughts about being “crazy” and “uncontrollable” or “good” and “bad” around food subsided and then went away all together.

Did I start out eating all of my previously “forbidden” and “off limits” food? You better bet your bottom dollar I did! But after awhile those foods started to lose their seductive appeal. Those previously “forbidden” foods just became food I liked and enjoyed eating when I craved them or when they sounded good- not food I wished I could eat or constantly lusted after and thought about.

I no longer feel bad for enjoying a piece of cake at a friends birthday party or eating candy at the movies. I also don’t feel better or more superior than others when I eat a salad or chicken breast- because I believe that the only reason you should feel guilty for eating food is if you stole it.  

One of the many things I love about IE is that you’re never done learning or experiencing new things. Even after being on this journey for almost 2 years, I find myself learning new things about my body and my hunger and fullness cues every single day. No one day is the same and I love that. Hunger ebbs and flows- so somedays I’m more hungry than others and that’s not only ok, but it’s 100% normal!

But don’t be confused- IE is not the “hunger fullness diet”. You’re not only “allowed” to eat when you’re hungry and you’re most definitely not “required” to stop eating once you’ve reached comfortable fullness (fun fact: overeating sometimes is a completely normal part of life). You’re allowed to eat whatever the heck you want, whenever you want.

Also, don’t think that by choosing to reject diet culture and embracing IE that I’m “giving up” or “letting myself go”- it’s actually the opposite. I care so much about myself and my health that I stopped dieting and weight cycling before it left a lasting and deadly impression.

IE was the best thing to happen to me. It saved me from my ED and gave me my life back. I went from fearing food to embracing and loving food.

I love going to meet friends for dinner and drinks or making a nice meal at home with my family. Food doesn’t have to be scary and confusing like diet culture leads us to believe. It can be fun, make you happy, and be enjoyed if you just start trusting and putting faith in yourself and your body.

Your body is a wonderful and amazing thing that should be appreciated and loved- not something to be shamed and starved! 

“and I said to my body. softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ and it took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.'”

That’s all she wrote…

What do you think about Intuitive Eating? How do you honor your body and your hunger and fullness cues?

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My Favorite Resources:

Want to learn more about IE? Take a gander at some of my favorite resources from some amazing non-diet and IE professionals (Dietitians, coaches, etc.) below!

{Books}

{Podcasts}

Food Psych (Especially this episode! It’s a Q&A all about IE from one of my favorite non-diet RD’s Christy Harrison!)

Dietitians Unplugged

Love, Food

Body Kindness

Reclaiming You

Fearless Rebelle Radio

{Blogs}

This list is most definitely not every blog about IE, but these are some of my favorites! (I plan on doing a whole post dedicated to my favorite IE/ED recovery/HAES bloggers and blog posts- be on the lookout for that soon! 🙂

Christy Harrison

immaEATthat

The Real Life RD

Isabel Foxen Duke

Rachael Hartley Nutrition

Run Whole Nutrition

Josée Sovinsky Nutrition

{Social Accounts}

I follow so many awesome IE, anti-diet, and Heath at Every Size people on social media so it would be hard to list them all here- if you want to add some wonderful, educational, and empowering content to your social feeds, check out who I follow on Instagram! 🙂

 


A few of my {current}  favorite things:


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