Listening to Your Body: Intuitive Eating

Last week we talked about Poodle Science and the importance of accepting our bodies at every shape and size. One of the techniques that I mentioned that I use for eating disorder treatment with my clients is intuitive eating.

Diet Culture Perspective

Usually by the time I begin working with eating disorder clients, they have gained an unhealthy perspective on food. This perspective usually comes from family, friends, media, and diet culture. My clients view certain foods as good and other ones as bad. According to their perspective, the only way to be “healthy” is to follow a strict diet. This means religiously counting calories, limiting certain food groups, or staying far away from “bad” foods as defined by whatever diet they are on. Throw in excessive exercising, vomiting, and other dangerous habits, and we have a perfect storm for an eating disorder.

What is Intuitive Eating?

One of the ways I help clients going through eating disorder treatment is by helping them reexamine their relationship with food through an intuitive eating lens. Intuitive eating is based on the belief that we are already born with the signals we need to adequately nourish our bodies – all we need to do is learn how to listen.

There are a number of principles or main ideas behind intuitive eating, and I am going to highlight just a few:

Some Intuitive Eating Principles

  • Honor your hunger: Being hungry is your body’s natural way of telling you that it needs fuel to keep you going.
  • Make peace with food: There aren’t good food and bad foods. Rather, there are foods that are more nourishing to your body and there are foods that are more nourishing to your soul. We need BOTH!
  • Respect your fullness: Being full is your body’s natural way of telling you that it’s fueled up and ready to go!
  • Respect your body: You may not love your body, but learning to respect it can go a long way in your recovery.
  • Process your emotions in healthier ways: Most people with an eating disorder have used food or restriction to self soothe or to numb out. It’s important to learn other ways to process your feelings.

You’re Already a Natural Intuitive Eater

Intuitive eating, in today’s diet culture, seems like a revolutionary approach to eating, but it’s not! From the time we are born, we naturally know how to eat. Babies will cry when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full. A toddler will push away their plate full of birthday cake when they no longer want it. Children and infants know just how much and how often they should eat. The problem is that over time, diet culture teaches us not to trust our hunger and fullness cues.

But the good news is that we can become intuitive eaters again. On a personal note, I struggled with an eating disorder for nearly two decades. There were times when I felt so hopeless, as if my only option was to be on a diet my whole life. But I was SO wrong. Through eating disorder treatment, I have learned how to become an intuitive eater. I no longer struggled with dieting or obsessing over the number on the scale. Desserts or “forbidden foods” hold no power over me anymore. As a result of my recovery, I am happier, healthier, and more free than I’ve ever felt before. Remember this: It’s never too late to heal your eating disorder and become an intuitive eater.

Scheduling and More Information

Want to read more from Alyssa? Check out her other blog posts.

If you are seeking support for an eating disorder, please click here to schedule a therapy appointment with Alyssa.

For more information on intuitive eating, check out the resource below:

Homepage – Intuitive Eating