Intuitive Eating Myth #1: Intuitive Eating is so Easy
Curious observer: “You are going to be a dietitian? Say, what diet do you recommend? What do you eat?”
Me: “I eat whatever I want. I practice intuitive eating.”
Cue the stare. Cue the confusion.
Practicing and promoting intuitive eating requires a lot of explaining to those curious observers. I get it…at first, intuitive eating sounds like it means acquiring knowledge about eating from a mystical source within us. That and the fact that the concept of ditching diet rules to follow our own intuition is very foreign to us. With this confusion, there are so many myths and misconceptions out there about what it actually means to eat intuitively. I am here to bust those myths.
No, intuitive eating is not easy.The concept is simple, but simple…does not mean easy. When we think about what intuitive eating actually entails, it is a much more complicated matter.
Intuitive eating requires us to take a hard look at ourselves.It requires us to dig deep in order to really understand our relationship with food. Most of the time, as we begin to explore our relationship with food, we begin to see that there are many feelings, emotions, and beliefs that also need contemplation. Intuitive eating requires us to explore and address other important relationships we tend to ignore, such as our relationship with our bodies, exercise, and ourselves. When we diet, these relationships tend to go ignored and disregarded. Therefore, after years of dieting and neglecting these relationships, we enter a whole new ball game.
Intuitive eating forces us to ask ourselves necessary and important questions: what is my current relationship with food bringing to my life? What is it taking away from my life? Why am I eating this way? Why do I have these eating behaviors? Is this food provoking joy, anxiety, fear? What kind of relationship do I want to have with food? What do I fear about giving up dieting?
Intuitive eating requires us to be mindful.Mindfulness is no easy task when compared to dieting and following mindless meal plans and food rules. It requires us to notice our hunger and fullness cues, our feelings around different foods and situations, the type of hunger we are feeling, and the reason behind the choices we are making.
Intuitive eating requires the hard work of undoing the diet mentality that has been reinforced for so long.There are hundreds of rules and diet messages that have been wired into our brains. Intuitive eating requires us to challenge all of these beliefs that run so deep. When ditching dieting, we must question all that we have been told for so long about food and our relationship with it. It challenges us to throw away the list of good and bad foods we have created, to undo the way we think and approach food, and so much more.
Intuitive eating requires us to go against the norm.When we leave the world of dieting, we need to learn how to adapt to the rest of the world where we will still be bombarded with diet messages, the promises of dieting, and the glorification of weight loss. Intuitive eating means changing the way we take in these messages and what we surround ourselves with. This means unfollowing those negative diet influences, walking away from diet talk conversations, and fighting back. It takes being a rebel.
Lastly, one of the hardest parts of intuitive eating is this- when we choose to adopt intuitive eating, IT IS ALL ON US.That’s right, we are in the driver’s seat and we need to learn how to listen to our bodies and become our own best nutritionists. We can no longer hide behind a diet and neglect our relationship with food, our body, and our exercise. We need to do the work. It is hard, and it is all on us.
So no, intuitive eating is not easy. And it takes all of these things just to be able to sit down and eat normally (whatever our normal may look like for us). Intuitive eating takes so much more time, effort, and introspection than any diet out there. However, after we become comfortable with intuitive eating, we will no longer have to (or want to) diet ever again. We no longer have to miss out on wonderful meals and foods we shouldbe enjoying or miss out on experiences because of our fear around food.
All of this hard work will pay off, time and time again, when we are able to live our life free of unnecessary anxiety and worry, freeing up our world for far better things.