Incase you haven’t noticed, more and more evidence is emerging how eating and exercising with the goal of weight loss (AKA dieting) does not work.
With incredible TED talks like this one from neuroscientist, Sandra Aamodt or this amazing video from author and dietician, Evelyn Tribole, scientists, doctors, dieticians and psychologists are all beginning to realize that diets are not the answer to the “obesity epidemic”. Science is proving again and again that as human beings, we all have a set point (set range) of 10-15 lbs. and although lifestyle changes may move you up or down within this range, it’s incredibly difficult to move outside of that range for an extended period of time. So what options does that leave people with the ultimate goal of health? Well, actually a few… There is mindful eating and intuitive eating both which are centered around listening to your body’s natural cues and eating accordingly. No, this approach is not nearly as flashy as the latest Hollywood juice cleanse, but I have to say from my personal experience, eating like this is pretty amazing. Not only is it liberating (I have no “food rules” that restrict me, other than allergies) it has also improved my health physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. And in case you didn’t know, I never hesitate to tell anyone about this method of eating. The interesting thing, however, is how many people are resistant to this concept of ditching the diet and listening to their body.
Since recovering from my eating disorder, I have advocated intuitive eating over and over again to my clients, family and friends. And although a small handful of friends and family have adopted this concept of eating, the majority of those I suggest intuitive eating resist it (I have even lost clients over it). And I ask myself, would I get the same response if I was touting a method of eating that involved a point system, excluded an entire food group or revealed secret food combinations in the hopes of reaching some pie-in-the-sky number on the scale? Probably not. So why the resistance to intuitive eating?
The answer comes down to two words; trust and fear.
In order to truly eat mindfully and intuitively, we must first trust that our body knows what it’s doing when it sends us cues regarding food and hunger and secondly, we must have the courage to work through the fear that the body we currently have (no matter what size or shape) may be the body we are stuck with no matter how much restricting of food or hours of exercise we do.
These two things are not easily implemented. They involve a complete shift in thinking and beliefs. Beliefs that have been pounded into us since before we could even realize. We were born trusting our body by crying when we’re hungry but as we grew, we were told by authority figures not to trust these cues. We go on diets, we restrict then binge, we force our body to ignore the signals because how could our ignorant body possibly know what we need or how much? We often forget the incredible wisdom our body holds and exemplifies. For example, when we become over heated, our body has a natural cooling system called sweat and this can help lower our body temperature or how, without any outside force, our body intuitively knows how to grow another living being within us.
Embracing the concept of intuitive eating might also mean working through some pretty uncomfortable emotions related to body image which may involve learning to accept your current body size and shape. Not the easiest of feats and this is why intuitive eating is met with so much resistance. In fact, the only people I have met that have truly adopted this method of eating have been those in recovery from an eating disorder or who have hit rock bottom with yo-yo weight loss and have completely given up. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you are someone who is scared to try this method of eating,
I don’t blame you.
Look at the environment we live it. Where our worth and our importance are so heavily based on the way we look. We are flooded every day with images of bodies not based in reality and led to believe that this is not only achievable but that this type of body is more valuable your own. And even though we may know all of this already, it is still scary as hell to go against it.
I wish I could tell you that eating intuitively is not that difficult to do, but actually it is. And for many people, myself included, it can take a lot of mental strength and courage to choose this method of eating day after day instead of what mainstream culture is selling us.
If you are interested in learning more about intuitive eating or getting some incredible support to actually do it, I invite you to learn more about my friend, Isabel Foxen Duke. She is a no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, intuitive eating boss. CLICK HERE to learn more about this amazing chick and get her free video series to learn how to stop feeling crazy around food.
And until next time, trust your body and follow your heart.