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Welcome to Session one of our ten week Intuitive Eating Series.
I will be using the ten principles from this Intuitive Eating Workbook to guide us through the next ten weeks. If you are ready to dive into this work, my recommendation is to purchase the book or workbook so you have easy access to the information as we go through our ten week journey.
So, why is this a 10 week series? If you have been following my channel for a while, you probably know that I am an ex-chronic dieter. I spent many years struggling with my relationship with food and body, and was forever on a new diet in attempt to lose weight, change my body composition, and get healthy. It really until I gave up dieting, which actually happened which I got pregnant the first time, that I was able to end my constant struggle with dieting and find freedom and peace in my relationship with food and body.
For me, intuitive eating is a polar opposite of dieting. Dieting is when we take external cues, rules, and ideas about how we should be eating, and allow those rules to dictate what we should be eating regardless of what we FEEL.
Intuitive eating on the other hand invites you to shut off your brain, reconnect to your body, and use your body’s cues and signals to determine what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Intuitive eating connects you to your instinct and intuition, while dieting promotes us to disconnect. While weight loss can be a byproduct of intuitive eating (it was for me), the main goal is to create and kind and nourishing relationship with your body ,with your food, and with yourself. I want you to begin to rebuild trust with yourself and your body. When you are constantly looking for information externally you are disconnecting form the one place all of your real answers live. When you are constantly looking for information externally you are disconnecting from the one place all of your real answers live.
As one of my favorite mentors says, most of us are on HIGH-FACT diets, meaning we take in so much information that we lose connection with our deepest source of knowing – which is ourselves.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while every principle we will cover is simple in theory, they each take some practice, so offer yourself some grace and kindness as we do this. Intuitive Eating is not a diet, there is no right or wrong, you can’t pass or fail. This is a learning experience. Step one is going to depend on your willingness to be kind, easy, compassionate, forgiving and understanding with yourself. There’s no doing this perfectly, Sometimes we eat when not hungry, sometimes we eat past full, sometimes we eat emotionally, and that all has to be okay. That’s all a part of being in relationship with food. My desire for you is that you grace yourself the space to see and understand this for yourself without the impatient desire to change it all yesterday. The very first principle, which is actually in chapter 5, REJECT THE DIET MENTALITY.
A diet mentality is an all or nothing approach to healthy eating and/or losing weight. It’s the false hope sold to us by the diet industry that losing weight quickly and easily will make you happy, fulfilled and valuable. And when we sign up for this broken system, and put all of our energy into shrinking our bodies, we also shrink our entire selves and our entire world. Rejecting diet mentality starts with recognizing and rejecting the diet culture, which of course starts with educating yourself about diet culture. The diet culture wants to tell us what we should weigh and what our bodies should look like and that all of our value lives in the aesthetics of the body; if we could just reach a certain image, we will then be happy and fulfilled and valuable. As long as the diet industry has you believing that they have something you need, they get to continue perpetuating this billion dollar industry that depends on you believing. But they are selling us faulty product, because diets never work. Between 96-98% of all people who have lost weight on a diets gain it back within a year. Those who do manage to keep it off are more often than not ganged in disordered eating, an obsession with food and or body.
When you approach health or weight loss by restricting your food and depriving yourself of pleasure, your amazingly insanely wise body goes into reservation, or starvation mode. It adapts to less calories, it adapts to protect you! The body is designed to REJECT a diet. And so inevitably, as soon as it gets the chance, it will come back into balance. When you do eat a reasonable amount of food again, the body will hold onto the extra weight because it has now adapted to serving on less. It is a vicious cycle that is hard-wired to fail. Think of it like a pendulum. You are not a failure. I am not failure. This is not a conversation about morality, discipline, willpower, or self-worth. This is a conversation about faulty system that we are bombarded with all of the time from every angle. Diets are hard-wired to fail and yet we still blame ourselves.
So I want you to begin to recognize diet culture and the diet industry and say no thank you! Allow yourself to feel angry with this faulty system. Some of the negative side effect of dieting include: slower metabolism, increased desire to binge eat, pre-occupation/obsessing with food/ feelings of deprivation, sense of failure, decreased sense of willpower, and risk of developing an eating disorder. 1 in 4 dieters will develop an eating disorder. Dieting is the gateway drug to eating disorders.
The first principle is rooted in giving up any attachment to the very toxic diet culture. And I know first-hand that for anyone who is used to dieting, the idea of not dieting can be scary because our identities become wrapped up in it. Even though diets don’t work they are familiar, they are comforting, and they offer us a false sense of control which can feel very scary to let go of. Some common fears of letting go of dieting include:
FEAR: If I stop dieting I will eat all the food!
Reality: Dieting is the trigger for over eating
FEAR: I don’t know how to eat when not dieting
Reality: Practice getting in touch with inner signals
FEAR: I’ll be out of control
Reality: There is nothing to control in the first place
When you listen to body, it will guide you to your body + your weight range. Not all human beings are supposed to have the same size and shaped body. You can be fit and healthy in any shape and size; can be bigger and very fit and healthy or smaller and unfit and unhealthy. Let your feelings be your guide. Dieting becomes a way of thinking. It’s rigid, it’s all or nothing, its afraid, it’s not forgiving, and it doesn’t leave any room for the natural ebb and flow of life. Dieting creates a viscous cycle: Feel fat/want to lose weight/ start a diet (restriction + depravation)/ weakened self-control or loss of self-control/ over eat binge eat/ feel fat want to lose weight/ start the whole thing over again. The ONLY way to stop is to STOP dieting. It can also be very socially uncomfortable to step away from dieting because it is so woven into the fabric of our culture. It has become kind of normal for people to chat about food, weight, body, etc., as if it’s all the enemy and that it’s fine to talk against yourself. But, know that while you are healing this relationship, you have permission to create space from anything or person you need to.
So I am going to give you three steps to rejecting the diet mentality and a little homework:
Step 1. Cultivate self-compassion, ease, understanding, and forgiveness.
This is not a practice that you bully yourself into. This is a willingness to see the big picture and begin to operate yourself from what you’ve been fed so that you can identify and create your own thoughts, ideas and opinions on how you want to move forward. Notice the internal conversations you have with yourself. Are you being kind and compassionate or are you being judge and critical? Notice your tone. Be easy. Remember; just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true. Be a detective in your own mind. What thoughts do you want to keep and which would you prefer to leave? Journal it out.
Step 2. Evaluate your dieting history.
What have you tried in the past? Really think back. Did any of it actually work, was any of it sustainable? How did these attempts affect your inner world? Are you willing to give up dieting? To break up with it? What are you afraid of?
Step 3. Detox your environment.
Anything that is in your peripheral, your space, your environment, your world that encourages cutting calories, dieting, restricting, depriving, getting smaller, anything that makes you feel less than when you read, see it, or consume it, GET RID OF IT! Be willing to challenge what you see. Have the courage to create an environment that supports your desire for health, wellness, social connection, movement that feels good, pleasure, play etc. Health is not just a size. Give yourself permission to broaden your horizons.
So that my friends is principle #1. REJECT the diet mentality. I hope this was helpful to you, this is like soul food for me and I really want to encourage you to share your thoughts, ideas aha moments, journaling exercises etc. down in the comments below.