I first became aware of Intuitive Eating almost 2 years ago. I was perusing the audio books section at my local library browsing for something to listen to during my commutes to and from the gym, and the title on the spine “Intuitive Eating,” called out to me from the middle of the shelf.
Now let me tell you a little something about me at the time: I was a self-proclaimed “health-junkie,” a radical health nut, in pursuit of whatever the next “healthiest” thing was. I strived for diet perfection, I followed all the rules, I didn’t believe in cheat days, I hyper analyzed every meal, counted every carb, and I read package labels with the scrutiny of a defense attorney. I was also reaching to diet as a fix for anything that was possibly malfunctioning in my body – from feeling bloated, to my current mood, to the more serious fact that I had stopped menstruating. Even though on the outside I touted a health-conscious lifestyle, on the inside I was really only after one thing, and that was to be thinner/fitter/enough.
So in my pursuit of this perfect healthy lifestyle, the title Intuitive Eating caught my eye. I checked out the audio book, and put CD 1 into my car audio system. The very first chapter of the book prompts you to question your relationship with food, diet, and yourself through an Intuitive Eating Assessment Scale. With each question, and each affirming answer, the years and years of hurt I caused myself were brought to the surface. I pulled my car over, and I cried. It was that moment when I realized what I had been doing to myself all these years through diets, shame, punishment, and restriction. I felt the pain and pressure that had building for so many years, and I saw that everything I was doing in pursuit of health was leading me further and further from it. It was in that moment that I finally felt ready for change.
Intuitive Eating was written and created by Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and was first published in 1995. They describe it as “dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is a personal process of honoring your health by paying attention to the messages of your body and meeting your physical and emotional needs.” (Tribole, Resch, 1) The Intuitive Eating process is about reconnecting with and learning to listen to your body’s cravings and needs while also becoming aware of emotions and habits around food. It’s about letting go of food rules, guilt, and shame and freeing yourself from the pressures of the diet industry. The 10 principles of the book are built upon both cultivating attunement, that is aligning with your bodily sensations, and removing obstacles to attunement, such as diet rules and societal pressures. Intuitive Eating is presence, mindfulness, connection, awareness, and most of all, freedom.
“It is an inner journey of discovery that puts you front and center; you are the expert of your own body.”
– Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, The Intuitive Eating Workbook
For me, dieting is easy. Give me boundaries, parameters, black and white ideals, good vs. bad. Give me rules and I will follow them. Tell me that I need to get quiet and listen to my body, that I have permission to do or eat anything, and that I can’t use diet to define or value myself – THAT is hard. Intuitive Eating challenges your habits and your mindset, and involves not only re-thinking, but re-learning something that you are faced with every single day, it is a process and a journey that comes down to so much more than food.
While I have been actively working on my own Intuitive Eating journey since I first discovered the book, I am faced with challenges that question my relationship to food and myself constantly. That is why I am so inspired and excited to be facilitating an Intuitive Eating Discussion group beginning this August.
If you are local to Phoenix, I invite you to join me for 10 weeks of group discussion, connection, community, and accountability in the journey of becoming an intuitive eater. For more information about the group, visit A Mindfulness Life Center, or the Events page of this website.
Are you ready for diet freedom?
Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2017. Print.