If you’re not aware of what seems to be the most recent “diet trend” – intuitive eating – I will quickly sum it up for you in a few sentences…
Intuitive eating, first and foremost is not a weight loss diet – it is a way of eating where you allow yourself to have any and all foods – nothing is off limits. Later on in your intuitive eating journey when you’re ready, the suggestion is to incorporate gentle nutrition into your life, meaning a little more focus on getting some healthy nutrients in that make your body feel good. But at first, you really are asked to practice complete food freedom.
Where did intuitive eating come from? Well, we’re born with it, right? As babies, we feel hunger cues, so we cry to tell our mothers/caretakers that our bodies need food. Then, we naturally stop when our body signals we’ve had the right amount.
So, how do we lose touch with these intuitive feelings? Outside factors! An unlimited amount of them at that. Whether it be your parents telling you to “clear your plate completely” or the countless diet advertisements we see as kids, there are an endless amount of reasons that after infancy, most people are no longer intuitively eating.
The book that started the intuitive eating journey for many people, Intuitive Eating, by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, goes over a whole process for how to get back in touch with your natural hunger cues, with a huge focus on not worrying about your physical appearance. I read this book and even purchased the Intuitive Eating Workbook as well. I highly recommend these resources if you are interested in learning more about the practice of intuitive eating.
Now that we have some background on intuitive eating, I’d like to share my story of being an intuitive eater for several months.
Why I Started Intuitive Eating
Why intuitive eating, you ask? Well, like so many (and maybe even you!) I felt like I had been on a diet/fitness journey my whole life. And up until recently I thought this was the sole reason I chose to try intuitive eating.
What I realized though is that the only reason I tried intuitive eating was because I saw so many influencers raving about it. How freeing it was, how liberating, how fun it was to eat whatever they wanted!
What I understand now, and something Juliana said that resonated with me is that these influencers who are “intuitively eating” already have “normal”, fit bodies (I’m talking about mostly white cis-het, able-bodied female influencers that are all over social media) and had been previously counting macros for years before switching to intuitive eating.
This is a completely different thing than the real, researched intuitive eating process as outlined in Intuitive Eating (the book I mentioned earlier).– Becky @ selflovescript
Of course these kinds of people can generally maintain their physique and health while “eating intuitively” because at the end of the day, they are generally aware of everything they are putting in their bodies – including estimated macro and calorie amounts.
I’m totally not knocking these influencers, but I do want to make it clear that intuitive eating is A) not a way to lose weight (in fact, a lot of people gain weight doing this) and B) not for everyone (this may be an unpopular opinion, but my mind has changed about intuitive eating and I’ll explain why)…
How Intuitive Eating Helped Me
Before I go in to why I no longer am practicing intuitive eating, I want to explain the ways it helped me.
- I truly experienced food freedom for the first time in my life. I was eating whatever I wanted for months, and it was fun for a while.
- It helped me get in touch with my body and allowed me to be able to ask myself questions like, “Am I really hungry right now?” “What would make me feel good at this time?” The mindfulness factor is something I will definitely continue to carry with me.
- I learned a lot! From the book, but mostly from getting to know my mind and body better.
I think I needed to cut out any lingering strict dieting rules from my life, and intuitive eating is what allowed me to do that. So, for this fact alone I am grateful for my experience the past several months.– BECKY @ SELFLOVESCRIPT
Some important things I should mention – I have never had a relationship with food where I swear off whole food groups or “junk foods”, and I have always eaten things I love. I have gone through times where I binge foods – and that generally happened when I was bored and had crazy hormonal sugar cravings.
Why I No Longer Practice Intuitive Eating
All right, left’s get into the real reason you’re reading this blog in the first place! What could possibly be bad about a way of eating that allows you complete food freedom, nudges you in the direction of gentle nutrition and joyful movement, and tells you not to focus on your body size? It sounds too good to be true, right? For some people, it definitely does work, but not for everyone. And I’m not the only one saying this. Just do a quick Google search and read more on this subject.
The idea of complete food freedom? Sounds great, right? It is – if you can align all the other guidelines of intuitive eating and make them all work for you in balance. But, the amount of time, brain energy, (not to mention therapy) that you’d likely need if you’re coming from a place of dieting – this may just not be realistic.
I have found that I need some form of accountability, otherwise I will eat a diet solely consisting of Sour Cream and Onion Chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Tijuana Flats’ cookie dough flautas, and Dairy Queen Blizzards every day of my life. No matter how crappy it makes me feel.
This accountability for me comes in the form of tracking what I eat. The tracking (which you are not to do when intuitive eating) helps remind me to incorporate nutrient-dense foods that I enjoy into my diet. It also encourages me to cook my own food and not rely on processed foods to survive.
From my personal experience, I don’t regret trying out the intuitive eating way of life. I do however regret that I now don’t feel like myself and am weaker, more tired, heavier, and am all around frustrated with my body now.
If I were to continue eating this way, how do I know I wouldn’t continue to just feel worse and worse?
I really enjoyed reading Joy Manning’s take on her experience of trying intuitive eating for two years. It perfectly sums up my feelings as well.
To Sum It Up… Intuitive Eating Is Not For Me (Right Now)
Intuitive eating works for you? I literally could not be more happy for you if it does! Intuitive eating doesn’t work for me, at least not at this point in my life, and I have come to terms with that.
After beating myself up and trying to continue eating intuitively and pretending not to care about the body changes and health concerns I have now for myself, I am choosing for my own mental and physical health to step away from intuitive eating.– becky @ selflovescript
If this is you too, I encourage you to do what is best for you and your body. At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what your body and mind need – take pride in that responsibility and do what’s best for you.