How to start intuitive eating without turning it into a diet
You want to stop dieting but leaving the safety of food rules is hard.
When starting a non-diet intuitive eating journey, it is natural to miss the safety of food rules. From past experience you know you will lose control around food without a plan to guide you so before you know it, you can unintentionally be following a hunger-fullness diet, still worrying whether you have eaten right.
Letting go of food rules is one of the most challenging but also most important phases to start intuitive eating. By following these steps you will be well on your way to making it past the stuck of food rules and start feeling stress-free around food.
4 steps to start intuitive eating without turning it into your next diet
1. Don't treat it as a weight loss tool
Intuitive eating is sometimes advertised "for weight loss”. Although often well intentioned, this is not intuitive eating. The problem is that weight loss goals are about control of the body through control of food which brings thoughts back to guilt and worry around food. Intuitive eating switches the focus to connection with your body so you can best care for your physical and mental health. Intuitive eating allows your body to find the weight and shape it will naturally gravitate to when best nourished and cared for free from food stress and allows you to find acceptance for your here-and-now body, always.
2. Dive deeper into rejecting the diet mentality
Principle one of intuitive eating, rejecting the diet mentality, is not simply about stopping dieting, it’s about rejecting the diet culture in which we live. Our diet culture places worth on body size and morality on food choices. As we learn how our thoughts about food and bodies are influenced by cultural ideals, we start to unpack the harm it has done to ourselves and others. This can bring about strong emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness and grief. This can be uncomfortable but is a natural part of rejecting the diet mentality.
As we are surrounded by unsupportive diet culture messages in our daily lives, incorporating non-diet or body positive content each day to counter the diet mentality in our world can be helpful. Such as listening to a podcast or reading some pages of a book that help you shift to a kinder perspective. Engaging in regular and consistent support with a certified counsellor in intuitive eating is also an invaluable tool to support you.
To learn more about principle 1: rejecting the diet mentality, check out the episode 2 in the Intuitive Eating Explained Series.
3. Get clear on your true values
Separate your values that have come from diet culture and those which honour your true self. Our world sends us messages that our body size or way of eating is linked to our value or worth as a person. We can internalise these messages and start to believe that to be a "better person" we must work on changing our body or follow strict food rules. However, when we start intuitive eating we allow space to explore our true values. We often find that our focus on weight or "eating right" is not supporting us to be the person we want to be. If we are holding onto diet culture values rather than our own true values, intuitive eating can easily start to feel like another diet.
4. Check in with your intentions for food choices
There is no right or wrong with how you eat or move, it all comes down to your intentions. Are you saying no to cake at a party because you really don't feel like eating cake or are you saying no to cake because you believe it's a bad food and feel guilt over eating it? Both may result in you not eating the cake in that moment, but if it comes from control and morality it is likely to result in stress, cravings or losing the social and emotional pleasure in the moment. This is turn can falsely reinforce that you need food rules to help control your eating. Checking in with your intentions for food and movement choices can help to identify if control is creeping back in and stop intuitive eating becoming another diet.
To stop stressing over food and start intuitive eating, grab my free training with 5 steps to have a peaceful relationship with food.
How to start intuitive eating and live free from dieting
No one else can ever know how your body feels inside so no one else can ever know what or how much you need to eat to satisfy your body and mind. To become an intuitive eater you will develop confidence in your body to be your number one guide in your eating and self care and will stop looking for rules or other people to guide you. If you notice rules or control creeping in, it's likely intuitive eating is turning into another diet. But, it's completely possible to get past the stuck of food rules and start feeling free around food and at peace in your body.
For specialist support to get past the stuck of food rules - reach out for a free discovery call and learn how you can move forward in your intuitive eating journey.
Written by Emma Townsin, Registered Dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor
My passion is supporting women, just like you, who are tired of stressing over food, to find their food and life freedom.
You can learn behaviours to develop a natural and peaceful relationship with food. Get started with my FREE training “5 steps to a peaceful relationship with food”, explore my self-paced courses or learn how I can support you with specialist support.
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