Intuitive Eating Isn’t "Learn How to Eat So You Won’t Be Fat"
Katy Harvey, RD, CEDRD
That’s just another diet and reinforces our fat-phobic culture.
If your goal is to eat intuitively rather than diet, you need to be careful not to turn it into a diet.
If you are hoping above all that intuitive eating will produce weight loss, you are probably stuck in the “diet mentality” with it. And the very first Principle of Intuitive Eating, in the book by Tribole and Resch, is “Reject the diet mentality.”
The “diet mentality” is a way of thinking that perpetuates the notion that there is something wrong with your body that can and needs to be fixed through manipulation of your eating and/or exercise. It shows us in blatant ways such as commercial diets (e.g. Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, weight-loss challenges/programs), but also in many MANY subtle ways such as “clean eating,” lifestyle changes, healthy eating, being more active, getting in shape.
You are not bad or wrong for desiring weight loss.
Of course you feel that way. Look at the culture that we live in, where thinness is highly valued under the guise of “health.” Health-ism is a big problem in our society, and we’ve essentially turned it into a mindset on par with religion.
So give yourself compassion for your desire to lose weight in order to feel like to deserve to be happy and confident. You deserve to feel happy and confident regardless of your size and shape.
Can you acknowledge and accept that all of your past attempts at dieting and weight loss have caused you pain and suffering? AND that in the end it didn’t work - especially not permanently?
So why not try something different?
Why not try making peace with food and seeing what happens with your body?
Can you entertain the possibility that by making peace with food that you may also make peace with your body?
Can you, at least temporarily, set aside your goal for weight loss and give intuitive eating a try?
In the meantime, call a truce with your body and treat it with kindness and respect, even if you don’t like its appearance, size or shape. We can still be kind to something what we don’t necessarily like.
The utopia of body positivity
You may never reach the utopia of “body positivity” and that’s ok. It’s probably an unrealistic goal for many of us. If you can get there, great. But if you can’t, no worries.
Body neutrality is a wonderful place that may even have benefits beyond body positivity. Being neutral about our bodies can create space in our lives to spend energy on other things that matter to us. It’s similar to feeling neutral about your height, or eye color, or shoe size. Something that is what it is and you don’t spend much time worrying about it.
Creating space for change
By setting aside the goal of weight loss, you are creating space to experiment with food and with your appetite. You get to discover what hunger and fullness truly feel like. You get to learn what foods you actually enjoy and what truly satisfies you. You get to stop depriving yourself of life-giving nourishment, and you get to move away from bingeing and overeating on food out of desperation and despair.
Katy Harvey, RD is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) from Kansas City. She has an outpatient private practice where she helps individuals heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body. She also blogs at Katy’s Blog.