5 Myths About Intuitive Eating BUSTED
Whenever I’m at a dinner party or social gathering and people learn that I am a personal trainer and eating psychology coach, I get peppered with questions about workouts and what to eat. When I start to explain that I don’t eat keto, paleo, vegan, or low carb and that I eat intuitively with my body, I get some weird looks. Below are the top 5 misconceptions I hear about intuitive eating and my response to them.
1. If I allow myself to eat whatever I want I will never stop eating cookies, fries, cakes, and fast food.
I hear this one all the time, and quite honestly, I thought the same thing when I first learned about intuitive eating. But what actually happens when you give yourself permission to eat whatever, whenever, is that you take away some of that intense desire for those “off limits” foods. When you know you can eat cookies literally whenever you feel like it, they lose their power. An intuitive eater is less likely to eat 12 cookies because she knows she can have more whenever she wants, while someone following a strict diet may feel completely deprived, say f*ck it, and eat 12. When you explore the thoughts and feelings around your cravings, satisfy them by eating mindfully, and listen to how your body feels, you’ll likely want to put whatever formerly forbidden food you’re eating down after a few stellar bites and move on with your day.
2. If I try Intuitive Eating I will, for sure, blow up like a balloon.
Yep, I thought this too. I was so sure of this one that I immediately turned off the podcast I was listening to that introduced me to intuitive eating and didn’t think about it again for two whole years. When I finally decided to give intuitive eating a solid try I also relaxed my workout routine. I didn’t (and still don’t) weigh myself, but I did notice my body get a little softer and rounder. I’ve since gotten back to a normal activity routine and my body feels very similar to before. When people explore intuitive eating, some people gain weight, some people lose weight, and some people stay the same. This is also the same for every diet out there (long term at least).
When you give up restrictive diets, extreme-eating behaviors, binge eating, obsessive counting and tracking, etc. your body finds its natural set point weight where it is happiest and healthiest. Intuitive eating puts weight aside and focuses on health – physical AND mental health. Your weight will be a reflection of your genetics and lifestyle, which includes eating behaviors, sleep patterns, stress levels, and activity levels.
3. Intuitive Eating is just another diet.
I know what you’re thinking, “Ok Kate, but this is just another set of rules like any other diet. I’ll try and probably fail two months later.” Yes and no, but mostly no. Intuitive eating has guidelines and principles to follow, but those guidelines lead you to throw out the rules of diet culture. Specifically, check out principle number one of their 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
1. Reject the diet mentality
2. Honor your hunger
3. Make peace with food
4. Challenge the food police
5. Feel your fullness
6. Discover the satisfaction factor
7. Cope with your emotions without using food
8. Respect your body
9. Exercise – feel the difference
10. Honor your health – gentle nutrition
Intuitive eating values progress over perfection, nourishment over punishment, flexibility over rigidity. You literally cannot fall of the bandwagon or fail at intuitive eating. Every “set back” is an opportunity to learn and explore. I don’t know of any other diet plan that encourages you to experiment with all foods, emphasizes pleasure and satisfaction, values mental health as highly as physical health, and has respect for your body as one of the core tenants. If you know of one, tell me!
4. Intuitive eating doesn’t care about nutrition.
Not true! Two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, who care A LOT about nutrition and health developed intuitive eating. They describe gentle nutrition in the following way: “Making food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t need to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters.”
They encourage intuitive eaters to check in with themselves when it comes to nutrition and explore how those foods make their bodies feel. Are they eating for satisfaction or only to be a diet martyr? How are their energy levels? Do they have any medical conditions that would be helped by following specific nutritional principles? Can they do that without sacrificing mental and emotional health? Does paying attention to the nutritional value of a food feel neutral or bring back old disordered eating thoughts or a dieting mentality?
Intuitive eating allows you to take all of these nutritional, physiological, and psychological factors into consideration to strike a balance that works for you.
5. Intuitive eating is just for those who have given up on themselves.
The only giving up intuitive eaters are doing is giving up obsessive thoughts, body shame, fear foods, guilt, self-judgment, self-attack, daily weigh ins, and a general feeling of exhaustion and confusion around food, health, and nutrition. While they are giving that up, they’re also gaining so much more. They’re gaining freedom around food, mental space, money and energy previously spent on dieting, and a new found R-E-S-P-E-C-T for their bodies.
If you are curious about exploring intuitive eating, check out their website. If you want hands on guidance*, feel free to reach out and schedule a free 30-minute discovery call with me.
*Please note, I am not a certified Intuitive Eating Coach through their program (yet), but through my Eating Psychology certification, personal experience, and self study, I am qualified to help you find freedom around food and explore a new way of eating.