• Monique Jephcote

Making Peace with Food


Intuitive Eating is incredibly nuanced.

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1 of the biggest statements that raise eyebrows about the framework is “eat what you want”.

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Often the concern people come to me with who are wanting to learn the approach is that surely if they let themselves eat what they want, they won’t stop eating “XYZ”, or people who have tried implementing it on their own, often find themselves at a confusing place with food where they are eating what they want but feeling pretty crappy physically & unsure how this equates to health. People land opposite me confused & unsure of the approach when they try it at home without a well versed practitioner in their corner.

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At the crux of the framework of Intuitive Eating is CONNECTION to ones body & self. If we are eating in a way that makes us feel pretty crappy physically (MOST of the time), isn’t it possible that we are not actually connected?

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Intuitive Eating is a dynamic interplay of instinct, emotion & thought. It’s a mind-body integration. Connection. A combination of Body Attunement & External Health Values influences the achievement of Authentic Health.

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Below is how I’d reframe the common tagline of IE.

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“Eat what you want, with body attunement, & with curiosity & awareness (WITHOUT judgement)”. The “without judgement” is usually the hardest (but often, the most important / life-changing) part.

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When we make peace with food & give ourselves unconditional permission to eat all foods, we finally get to ask ourselves (maybe for the first time in a long time, or ever), “what is it that I feel like?”

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Let’s use an example - “do I feel like this donut?”

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When connected, no longer is your answer an automatic yes because you’ve given yourself a small window of permission to eat the donut (or maybe it’s your “cheat day”), & the answer is no longer an automatic no if you are on a diet or “trying to be good” or insert other XYZ non body cue related reason.

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You get to instead ask, “is this what I feel like”, “will this satisfy my taste buds and body right now”, & your answer now comes from an internal place rather than an external place.

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Sometimes your answer will be no, and sometimes it will be yes. And you’ll honour whatever way it goes. Unpacking rules & judgements is important here as they can make it difficult to “honour” your internal cues.

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When you are initially making peace with food, your answer MIGHT look like “yes” more often. With body attunement, & with curiosity & awareness, you’re learning what different foods feels like in your body and how they satisfy you.

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Maybe you feel fantastic, maybe you feel crappy. But the power lies in you learning this yourself, rather than someone telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. Depending on what you learnt, you take that learnt information through to future experiences.

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A client once said to me “Monique I love Kit Kat’s, but surely if I let myself eat them when I want them, then I’ll eat them for breakfast, lunch & dinner”. I said “well try it & let me know how you go” (shock horror) I continued with “remain curious, release judgement, & stay connected with your body” (training is given on all of this in sessions).

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She learnt through her experience that it didn’t feel great physically. While we could probably assume that might not feel great (when we are connected), we are experiential beings & our most powerful learnings are through experience. While she has had foods she has binged on for 20+ years, she’d never actually given herself “unconditional” permission any of those times. It was always met with conditions. Pseudo-permission, we call this. Guilt, needing to burn it off, altering the rest of the day, insert XYZ conditions, are not present in “unconditional” permission. These are conditions. It’s not really permission. The push pull will remain. It’s not until you learn how to release these constrains can you make peace with food.

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We cannot tell ourselves what we should or shouldn’t do AND listen to our bodies at the same time.

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PS the premise of making peace with food is “habituation”, however please note, this is not the intent to “burn out on the food”, as this is just another form of deprivation.

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I hope this makes sense. It is difficult to address on a singular post but what I aim to highlight is that Intuitive Eating is absolutely a health journey & at the crux of it is: re-connection. If you perceive otherwise, or are unsure if you are moving toward or away from connection on your journey, I would highly recommend seeking the support of someone trained in this evidence based framework to help you unpack. PS reading the book is often not enough.

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And just in case this is not clear - you can eat a food for the simple fact of that it tastes good. Period. Not up for debate. Nothing else needed. And let’s be real, not every food makes us FEEL great all of the time, but sometimes it’s just so yummy & we get joy in another way (*allergies & medical conditions- differs apply). This is normal eating.

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When we have curiosity & awareness (WITHOUT judgement) & body attunement, we make decisions that are best for our bodies and ourself MOST of the time. The statement “MOST of the time” is a helpful reframe from “ALL of the time” because we are certainly not all perfect, robotic beings & nor should we be striving to be so, because we’ll never achieve it.

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Photo credit: @mocean_studio

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The Intuitive Dietitian xx

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Monique Jephcote, 2020 l monique@theintuitivedietitian.com.au

Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, Dietitian & Personal Trainer

1a/12 Tierney Place Tweed Heads South 2486, NSW, AUSTRALIA

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Intuitive Dietitian Nutritionist Tweed Heads Gold Coast