Intuitive and Mindful Eating
Updated: Oct 25, 2019
What is Intuitive and Mindful eating?
Mindful Eating is about getting back in touch with the experience of eating and enjoying our food. Because food is truly here to be enjoyed. Food, no foods, regardless of their nutrient density or lack there of, are designed to make you feel guilty. Food is here to be enjoyed & provide benefit to us in some way, not cause a psychological (and subsequent physiological) stress response.
Intuitive Eating is about learning to tune in to what your body is telling you. Because your body is communicating with you every single day. It is an AMAZING self-regulator. It tells you when its hungry, and it tells you when its full (with the help of our trusty hunger and fullness hormones, Grehlin (hunger hormone) and Leptin (fullness hormone)). It tells you when it's depleted in nutrients (cue: perhaps when sickness sets in), or when it's in need of some TLC & needs some food for the soul.
And you may have an ingrained belief, that, eating for the soul (you say?), for TLC, to feel comfort from food, well thats just a fancy word for emotional eating, and isn't that the DEVIL?
My answer is an incredibly firmly backed - NO.
The most important thing is the response to the act of emotional eating - do you meet that with anger & guilt, or understanding & awareness?
If the first option (anger & guilt), you're likely to continue emotional eating with nil awareness, and potentially develop an ONGOING habit of emotional eating through perpetuation of these fear based feelings. Now you're emotionally eating because you feel guilty about emotionally eating, as oppose to the original problem?!? What even was that again?
If the latter (understanding & awareness), you're likely to emotionally eat in a state of awareness, feeling like the enjoyable food you're consuming is providing you with the comfort you need, and when you finish, you feel so much better, the purpose has been served, and there's zero guilt or anger. And this is the most important note in this concept, so do not miss it, there is ZERO GUILT OR ANGER. In this situation, the emotional eating was a short-lived experience. You're not likely to continue the next day.
I cannot stand on a pedestal and tell you that there is something wrong with emotional eating.
Because there are 100% times when I eat for the pure purpose of feeling comfort from food.
Food plays many roles for me. I eat to enjoy delicious foods for the beautiful tastes, I eat to fuel my body with nutritious foods so that my body can be physically healthy and absent from disease, I eat to fuel my workouts, I eat to repair my body from my workouts, I eat to be exposed to different cultures, I eat to be social with my friends and family, I eat to flood my body with nutrients, and you can bet your damn bottom dollar, that I eat to feel comfort.
Remember in those times the most important thing is to remain aware, be kind to yourself, be understanding, be mindful with that damn delicious piece of food or meal (AKA: be present and enjoy it wholeheartedly), then be grateful for it. You just utilised food for one of its many powers, while always knowing it has so many other powers which are important too.
But what if I don't trust myself to know what my body is telling me?
I am not surprised if you're asking yourself this.
Perhaps this is from years of cyclic yo-yo dieting. Weighing foods to the gram so you can be exactly in control of what's going in (this isn't actually 'control', it's the exact opposite).
Not knowing what 'hunger' truly feels like because every time that leptin hormone does its ever so beautiful and wonderfully AMAZING job at alerting you that your body really needs food right now in order to work properly (& KEEP you WELL), you have ignored it, and suppressed it so many times because diet culture has taught you to believe that feeling hungry is wrong? Of course you're not going to feel connected to your body. Of course you're not going to trust what your body is telling you.
Not knowing what 'fullness' truly feels like because you haven't allowed yourself to ever reach that stage.
Or not knowing what 'comfortable fullness' feels like and instead only knowing what 'uncomfortable fullness' feels like because you are so use to finishing every single thing you see in plain sight because diet culture has taught you that soon you'll be on another diet and that means you won't be ALLOWED to eat certain foods on that diet, or worse, ever again.
Diet culture hasn't worked for centuries because of one factor.
We are all different.
See. Poodle Science. --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H89QQfXtc-k
All of our bodies are different, our minds, our hormones, our biology, all of it, we're all different.
Along the way the single most important factor, that our bodies are TELLING us what they need from us, EVERY single day, has been long forgotten.
Diet culture has taught you that the INCREDIBLY AMAZING & VERY NATURAL processes of our bodies, including our hormone and biological signalling, is WRONG. To feel hunger, is WRONG? To eat foods for any other reason than their nutrient benefit, is WRONG? I don't know about you, but I'd hate to live inside that world.
AND yet, WE DO.
Of course you don't trust your body to tell you what it needs. Of course you don't trust how you're going to respond to that either. Of course you fear how you'll respond to a world which removes restrictions where all foods are readily available to you.
This is where my greatest passion in nutrition truly lies.
Through completing various activities & providing you with resources which have a focus on teaching you how to become more aware, mindful and intuitive when it comes to the experience of eating, you can relearn how to turn down the notch on the LOUD diet culture voices, and instead, bring some quiet, listen within, and receive the only cues you'll ever need.
*It is important to note that Mindful and Intuitive eating is not appropriate for those suffering from diseases or conditions which affect body signalling and appetite (i.e. the elderly, those with Anorexia Nervosa etc.), alongside those suffering from diseases or conditions which have very specific dietary requirements (i.e. diabetes, pregnant women, metabolic problems, liver disease, cancer, GI disorders, CVD etc.), or those who have specific body composition goals such as Elite Athletes. Different, specific approaches are undertaken for these groups, while the underlying message of intuitive and mindful eating can still be explored where appropriate.*