How to start intuitive eating without turning it into a diet
Diets are sneaky. Here's 4 steps to break free of stressful diet rules and become an intuitive eater so eating feels good.
When starting a non-diet intuitive eating journey, it is natural to miss the safety and comfort of food rules to guide you. But letting go of food rules is one of the most important steps to stop feeling stressed around food. By following these steps you will be well on your way to making it past the stuck of food rules and becoming an intuitive eater.
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 E-BOOK with "5 steps to get started with Intuitive Eating".
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 and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor
Emma is the founder of Food Life Freedom and the host of the Food & Life Freedom Podcast. For personalised support to stop stressing over health and heal your relationship with food and your body, learn how you can fast track your way food and life freedom.
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