I have had a life long battle with dieting and disordered body image. My journey with intuitive eating began with surrender. I had reached a point where “dieting” no longer worked. If I am honest, any diet I have ever tried only worked for a little while. I would momentarily feel better in the short term but it was never sustainable for long.
In the past 30 years, I have explored the extremes of every fad diet imaginable from a raw food vegan diet to the carnivore diet. I told myself these diets were either for spiritual or health reasons, never to lose weight. If weight loss occurred than that was a bonus of being on the diet. That was a lie.
Where did my body criticism begin? I was a healthy child at a healthy weight until I began to develop at age 16. This was much later than my peers. One day I was flat-chested and practically overnight I no longer was. As I got older my breasts got even more generous and my self-degradation grew. As my breasts became larger my perception of the size of my body increased. The reality was much different than what I saw in the mirror.
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?
Intuitive eating is a way to align the mind with the body’s natural hunger instincts. We were all born with innate body wisdom. As infants, we cried when we were hungry and we pulled away from the nipple when we were full. As we got older the messages we received from our caregivers were often the exact opposite of intuitive. We were told to, “Eat your vegetables!” Or, “Clean your plate!” Food was often withheld as punishment or pushed on us as a form of love. As a result, our natural body wisdom was suppressed.
Our fundamental hunger instinct is still inside of us. How we awaken our body’s intuition is through trust. When you hear that, you might begin to cringe and tell yourself, “There is no way I can trust myself! If I am left to my own devices I will eat whatever I want whenever I want to.” I am here to tell you that is exactly where to begin.
When I first started with intuitive eating I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to. I ate a lot! I ate chocolate. I ate fat. I ate evil carbs. This craziness went on for a good week and a half. Then the crazy began to taper off. A dialog within myself began to unfold. It looked like this.
“I want to eat chocolate.”
“You can eat as much chocolate as you want.”
“I really can?”
“Of course you can!”
“I guess I really don’t want any chocolate right now. If I want it later I can eat it?”
“You have permission to eat chocolate or anything whenever you want.”
That permission was all I needed to begin to trust the process of intuitive eating. I still give in to emotional eating over the needs of my body. When that happens I am gentle and forgiving with myself. This is a journey and not a destination. I hope you join me on the path.