Jan 11 2021
All of the mistakes I made with Intuitive Eating
This post and episode is brought to you by my live program, The F*ck It Diet Club. It's only running one time in 2021. Two months of live support, community, video Q&As, daily prompts, weekly beliefs to focus on, and all of us using TFID book as a textbook. Enrollment closes January 14th.
Six years before I started my own "F*ck It Diet," I read the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and decided I was going to heal my eating. I was 18 years old, and I'd already been extreme dieting for over 4 years. I was an extreme dieter, and an extreme binger. My weight violently yo-yo'd up and down every few months. And I was sure I was a food addict.
Reading the Intuitive Eating book was the very first time I had any idea that dieting was toxic, and wired to backfire. It spoke to me. I wanted to heal. But I was young, and desperate, and still stuck in extreme self-objectification. I was about to go to school at NYU for Musical Theater, and I also had a lot of health issues that I'd been trying to heal with my extreme diets. I wanted to heal my relationship with food, but I wasn't ready. I also didn't really understand some very important parts of the journey to food and body freedom. Remaining thin was still my top goal, and there was really no way to fully heal while continuing to prioritize weight control.
So over the next 6 years, while I thought I was eating intuitively, I was actually not. I was still dieting, and obsessing over my hunger and fullness cues, and calling it "intuitive eating."
Then I'd read the books and blog posts from other "mindful eating" gurus, and assume they were continuing my education on intuitive eating, when in reality, they were taking me further and further away from true intuitive eating.
Sometimes people read my work and think I'm ragging on Intuitive Eating and saying it doesn't work. I promise you, I am not. Intuitive eating is life changing, evidence based, and the dietitian authors of the book are trail-blazing experts who have changed more lives than anyone could begin to count. But people do misinterpret intuitive eating, en masse. A lot of those people become influencers themselves, and water down the intuitive eating teaching.
There are a lot of deeply ingrained diet beliefs that many of us hold, that will keep us from truly eating intuitively, and instead, keep us in a quasi-healed state, where we're still sneakily micromanaging our food intake, which will inherently still keep us obsessed with food, and feeling out of control around food.
I made a lot of mistakes during those 6 long years, so I'm sharing those mistakes in the hopes that you won't make the same mistakes I made.
1. I thought I had to listen really, really closely to my hunger and fullness cues
Listening to your body is one thing. It's what we want! But listening obsessively? Not exactly what we want. And not exactly what is gonna lead to a better relationship with food.
Here is the thing: after years of dieting, we usually feel REALLY out of control around food, so it makes sense that we assume that we need to pay extreme attention to every bite we take, and our exact level of hunger or fullness. The problem is, we don't trust ourselves or our bodies. We are still operating under the belief that our appetite has to be micromanaged. It actually doesn't.
In the beginning of stepping away from diets, we are often extremely hungry, hungrier than we think is ok or healthy or rational. And we think it's a sign that we are out of control, and that our hunger needs to be curtailed. But actually, our hunger needs to be fed. Which brings me to....
2. I thought I would immediately eat a small / "perfect" amount of food
Along the same lines, I thought when I started 'eating intuitively' - I'd eat small, perfect intuitive amounts of food. But that is still diet culture. That is still making assumptions about how much we "should" need to eat. Guess what?!?!