I've been pretty vocal about how diets don't work, even when they're dressed up in pretty language like 'balance' and 'healthy lifestyle' (still a diet) if the intention is to lose weight.
It's easy to understand on an intellectual level that diets set us up for failure; there's plenty of science describing how they can mess up our metabolism and overall health. But when you've spent your whole life with rules for eating; even if it's gluten-free or clean eating - it can be too much.
That's where Intuitive Eating (IE) comes in - an anti diet approach developed by dietitians in the 90s that now has a compelling evidence base supporting it's efficacy. It works by helping you ditch diets and dump the emotional baggage around eating.
Here are the ten principles of IE - read below or listen to the podcast for more detail.
Reject Diet Culture - it's done a number on us - IE helps begin to undo the damage by developing the skills to call out diet BS when you see it and get MAD AS HELL about the lies we've been sold. It forces you to recognise that weight loss & the diet mentality is doing more harm than good and helps you ditch the tools that keep us chained to diet culture - whether it's your Women's Health subscription, your calorie tracker app, or just your scales.
Honour Your Hunger - aka - eat when you're hungry - sounds pretty obvious but I've worked with a lot of women who skip meals and consider it an accomplishment to go to bed hungry. This is about respecting your normal biological drive to eat; for energy, for nourishment, and for pleasure.
Make Peace with Food - this is about letting go of 'food rules'. Legalising ALL FOOD. Yup, even gluten, dairy, & sugar. This is a scary principle for a lot of people, but so important; for learning to trust you aren't 'addicted' to a food, and for learning that you won't only eat pizza and cookies for the rest of your life.
Challenge the Food Police - you know that voice in your head that says 'you shouldn't eat that' or 'that's fattening'. That's the food police and he's a little bitch. This step is all about neutralising your attitudes towards food and disarming other people's charged language.
Feel Your Fullness - another obvious sounding principle but when was the last time you stopped eating when you were comfortably full? If you've been in the diet mentality for a long time it's likely that you regularly overeat because you know it's going to be a long time before you're allowed to eat again. In IE, no foods are off limit; there are no rules so you can stop eating when you're comfortably full safe in the knowledge that if you begin to feel hungry again later on - food is available and it's OK to eat.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor - food (or lack thereof) is not punishment - it's meant to taste good and be enjoyed. Sad rice crackers, zero calorie noodles, and other diet foods are not going to leave you satisfied. You know yourself that if something says it's low calorie/fat/sugar you probably eat 10x more than if you ate the real deal.
Eating your Emotions - by this point in your IE journey you'll begin to have more neutral feelings towards food and start to get your head around the fact that eating your emotions isn't a great coping mechanism. This is where you'll start to develop more appropriate ways to soothe, comfort, and care for ourselves, without face planting into a bucket of Ben & Jerry's. Say goodbye to emotionally charged binges.
Become a BoPo Babe - this is where things start to get exciting and you'll begin the totally radical act of LOVING YOURSELF. You'll stop determining your value based on what you've eaten or how much you've moved. This also covers the concept of Health at Every Size
Intuitive Movement - in the same way that we've been disconnected from eating, we rely more and more on workout programmes, fitness trackers, and apps to determine how we feel physically. Intuitive movement is about finding joy in activity - whether it's taking a low impact yoga class, going for a walk, or training for a marathon - finding activity that feels good & isn't another way to punish yourself is essential.
Gentle Nutrition - this is all about nourishing your body with foods that taste good and leave you feeling awesome. It reinforces the idea that you don't have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy and that nutrition isn't all or nothing. Here taste and satisfaction work with, not against nutrition concepts.
If you want to learn more, check out about my intuitive eating online course + community here.
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