I recently did a solo episode on The Blonde Files Podcast where I talked about breaking the diet cycle and overcoming food fear. As usual, I had you guys send questions over IG and I got a ton around eating, exercise, body image, intuitive eating and dieting (all answered in the episode!), which I touched on a few of these topics in the recent episode with Vanessa Rissetto – but I wanted to tackle intuitive eating specifically on the blog. I also had Evelyn Tribole (aka the godmother of intuitive eating) on the show last week, so definitely check it out here if you haven’t already! We dive deep into diet culture and how we’re disrupting trust with ourselves every time we try to fake out hunger; all things intuitive eating; how to deal with cravings intuitively, breaking away from food fear; transitioning away from tracking and counting; the danger of social media and eating disorders; and so much more.
Someone asked if intuitive eating is essentially just eating whatever you want when you want, or if it’s more about knowing what’s best, what will make you feel good and what’s healthy. Intuitive eating is actually a self-care eating framework where you’re the boss of you; only you can be the expert of your thoughts, feelings and experiences and only you know what satisfies you. It comes down to being mindful – and being mindful is to be aware, and to be aware is to be present.
If you’re looking to become more aware and adopt this approach, Evelyn suggests starting in the middle with the fifth principle of intuitive eating, which is asking yourself, “What would it be like to aim for satisfaction in your eating?” For example, if you start off in a place where you’re really over-hungry, does it feel good to eat that way, and do you feel satisfied after your meals? Ultimately, if you under-eat or eat until you’re uncomfortably full, that’s not satisfying. So intuitive eating is about getting curious without judgment.
Ideally, when intuitive eating is brand new to you, it’s really helpful to eat without distractions, especially because you’re trying to listen to your body and what tastes good. If you’re distracted by social media, the TV or whatever you’re doing, you’re being pulled away many times from the present moment and what’s happening with your body. Instead, try putting your awareness on taste and how you feel after you swallow. It’s not a journey of perfection but a journey of discovery. So if you can only do this for one meal a day – or even just for a few bites – that’s perfectly OK. Do whatever sounds reasonable and appealing to you!
I have a tendency to get rigid about things and get passionate about whatever I’m doing – but being strict with yourself defeats the purpose of being intuitive. I try to eat without distractions; I like to sit outside and enjoy my lunch in the sun and eat for satisfaction, but I had a podcast on. I wondered if that was “cheating,” but then I recognized that thought and reframed it to, “I don’t want to make rules around this because that’s not intuitive either.”
The word “cheating” actually feeds into diet culture. It’s important to recognize that we’re all human and we’re not perfect. Look at what gives you the most pleasure and connection while you’re eating. You *can* enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, the podcast without it pulling you away from your meal. It’s all up to you! Intuitive eating is a gentle journey of compassion and getting curious.
One of the questions that I get most frequently when I bring up intuitive eating with you guys is how can you learn to trust your body. There’s a lot of fear around trusting our bodies, and it can be challenging to let go of counting calories or counting macros, which is understandable because diet culture is fear-mongering. I was a part of the macro group and those numbers followed me around for so long. Every time you try to fake out hunger, it’s a severe trust disrupter. As you start to pay attention to your body, that becomes the dominant focal point and the calorie/macro awareness fades into the background because it has less meaning to you. The fear that you’ll never stop eating is more of a reflection of the deprivation of diet culture, and the thoughts you have around what you’re going to eat can impact you more than the actual food.
When it comes to dealing with cravings intuitively, get curious about it. If it’s truly a craving, indulging usually takes care of it – but if it’s something deeper and you have a need that’s not being met, ask yourself what you’re feeling and what you need to address it in the present moment. It’s not a simple answer, but the process is.
Someone also asked me recently how often I let myself have dessert – and while it’s a totally genuine (and valid) question and I know she didn’t mean anything by it, it got me thinking about how that mindset is what contributed to my disordered eating in the past. It takes trial and error and work to really tune into our bodies and figure out what works for us. But with that said, one of the first steps towards overcoming disordered eating patterns for me was to “let myself” have dessert nightly, eat whatever I’m craving and not restrict foods or food groups. As a result, I have very few cravings and urges to overeat. You guys also know I love “healthifying” recipes where I can to make them more compatible with my body and to feel my absolute best (like these delish gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free chocolate chip cookies!).
If you listened to this episode, what was the biggest takeaway for you? I’d love to hear!