Intuitive Eating is a book written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. Many dietitians refer to this book as the “Bible” when helping clients heal their relationship with food. Here at ALL of NUTRITION, we often use the principles of Intuitive Eating, alongside THE ONE-TWO PUNCH (OTP) when helping our clients.
So what is intuitive eating? And, how does it relate to OTP? There are ten principles to work on mastering while becoming an intuitive eater. They are:
Reject the Diet Mentality: Do we all know by now that dieting DOES NOT WORK!?!Perhaps anger at those who have enticed us to constantly try new diets even though THEY DO NOT WORK would be anger well used. The failure is not you! It is the diet. Sure, they might work in the short run, but typically not in the long run. It’s difficult to sustain certain patterns of eating, so eventually the diet ends up not working. If you still have hopes that one day a diet might work for you, it will be difficult to rediscover how to become an intuitive eater. The Knockout Method is not a diet – it’s a way of eating that guides you in making choices.
Honor Your Hunger: Sometimes we may be too busy to eat, or we ignore our hunger until it goes away. Though difficult, it is important to make sure to keep your body fed with enough nutrients to meet its’ needs. We all know that when we let ourselves get too hungry, we will tend to overeat afterward. It is important to feed our bodies when it is asking to be fed. The Knockout Method’s first principle is BURN – it’s important to fuel your body when it’s hungry, when it will BURN and use that fuel.
Make Peace with Food: Food should not have the power to control you. You control it! Give yourself full permission to eat. When you tell yourself that you can no longer eat a certain food, it only makes you want it more! You end up eating it anyways plus have the added guilt. In OTP, you get to choose ANY carbohydrate and ANY protein when you eat, without the judgment.
Challenge the Food Police: Foods are not good or bad. You are not good or bad for eating certain foods. Let’s take the morality out of eating. Food is food, only that and should be treated as fuel, not a moral choice. People often apologize to me when they are eating, like I am judging what they are eating! I’m a nutritionist and eating coach, not the food police. The foods you eat don’t determine you as a person.
Respect Your Fullness: Do you know when you are physically full or do you often cross that line until you are stuffed? This one is another hard one to do. Eating slowly and paying attention to what you are eating can be a scary new experience for a lot of people. Also, choosing to stop eating when you are full can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you have been on a diet for a long time and you think that you will never get to eat that food again. OTP gives you guidelines to follow as you practice learning about when you feel full.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Food should add enjoyment and pleasure in our lives as well as meet our basic nutrition needs. When we become less afraid of foods and learn that all foods have their place in our lives, we can start to enjoy the satisfaction that good food brings. By eating what you want to eat, rather than what a diet tells you to eat, you take back the control in your life. In OTP, you’re encouraged to choose foods that you know you’ll enjoy, not choke down foods you don’t like in the name of health.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: Who here deals with negative (or positive) emotions with food? It is easy to eat as a way of distracting ourselves from these feelings, or cover them up. However, eating as a distraction or cover up is never is a long-term solution for our problems. It generally just creates more problems. It’s difficult, but you are better off in the long run, trying to identify the reasons for wanting to eat. Then, you can find a way to resolve the feelings in a more helpful way rather than eating. It’s going to take practice to recognize physical hunger vs. a feeling. In the BECOME section of OTP, it’s all about practice. Keep trying to become the you you’ve always wanted.
Respect Your Body: Have you ever had an object (like a toy) that you didn’t like much so you didn’t take good care of it? People do the same thing with their body. If you hate your body, you are less likely to take the care of it in a way that is loving and supportive. There are minor changes that you can make to your body, but we are all born with a basic genetic blueprint. A 5-foot tall person is most likely never going to be 6 feet tall. There is no point in agonizing about this. This can be true about body size as well. Respect your body and become realistic about your basic genetic blueprint. Of course, we want everyone to be at a healthy weight, but what that weight is largely depends on your genetic build. OTP can help you understand what is best for your body scientifically, without needing to follow a diet to achieve that.
Exercise–Feel the Difference: You are more likely to stick to exercise if it feels good and you enjoy it. It’s better to walk every day and enjoy it rather than run hard once and never go back. Get active. Move your body for other reasons than weight loss. Notice the other differences that movement can bring you.
Honor Your Health: 80/20 rule of nutrition. Try to eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge the other 20%. You do not need to eat perfect 100% of the time and it is impossible to even achieve that. When you respect yourself and your body, you will make choices that honor them. Healthy foods taste good, and you feel good after eating them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a brownie from time to time. Just remember that what and how you eat over a long period of time is what matters in the end.
As I said before, in our practice we use MANY intuitive eating principles with our clients.
Intuitive Eating can be scary to begin. Not everyone is ready to go off-roading and never have any eating guidelines ever again. That is why The Knockout Method was created. It helps by giving you some guidelines to eat by. It is ok if you are not ready today to become an intuitive eater. I still very clearly remember the first time a therapist introduced this book to me while I was still contemplating recovering from an eating disorder. I almost threw the book at her head. Obviously, I was not ready at the time. When I was ready to actually heal my relationship with my body and food, I was much more receptive to the Intuitive Eating message. It took a lot of work, but Intuitive Eating has changed my life. I wish that I had OTP at the time for some guidelines so that I didn’t feel so alone out there. I think it would have made the whole thing a lot easier.
I love teaching OTP and Intuitive Eating to my clients. There are many parts of the intuitive eating that just make sense on a gut level. And it works! Intuitive Eating was a big part of my healing process, which has led me to write this blog post today. I can’t say it has been easy but I think adding OTP definitely helps to make it easier. Today, I practice both together.
Not everyone is ready to start this process yet. If this is you, don’t worry! We have a lot of experience in customizing a treatment plan for where you are in the healing process. We encourage you to get the help that you need. We’d love to help!