To some, the concept of intuitive eating has been misconstrued as letting go of your health. Nothing could be further from the truth.
BY: RACHAEL HARTLEY, RD, LD, CDE
Chances are, you’ve heard of intuitive eating by now. As a food philosophy that helps cultivate a healthier relationship with food, it’s being heralded as the ‘anti-diet’ to end all diets. Despite gaining traction, there’s a common fear associated with it:
That it means you’re letting yourself go.
Before we address this, let’s take a step back and look at what the typical diet mentality looks like. Many people already know from personal experience that diets don’t work, and they typically blame it on a lack of willpower or self-discipline. However, often times, they are very determined men and women who are likely accomplished in other areas of their lives that require tons of willpower and self-discipline –
Lazy and undisciplined? It just doesn’t add up.
Here are a few reasons why intuitive eating is not about giving up in life or on your health.
1. You are taking better care of yourself.
Intuitive eating and body acceptance are two of the most powerful ways we can practice self care. It’s about learning to work with your body instead of against it, and connecting with how your body feels. Look beyond the rigid rules of dieting and recognize that the scale only measures your relationship with gravity at a single moment in time. Start understanding that there is more to your health than just your BMI and weight, and you’ll see that there’s space to build sustainable changes to your health habits that don’t require restriction.
2. You are getting rid of a vicious cycle.
In a sense, intuitive eating and body acceptance are about letting go – but you are letting go of the things you can’t control, like your weight and size. Studies show 95-97% of diets result in weight regain; even if you are pursuing weight loss, the idea that you have control over your size is mostly an illusion. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Why do we, as a society, praise people for spending their lives yo-yo dieting, trying to lose weight and gaining it back, then shame those who opt out of a system that clearly doesn’t work?
3. You are taking back time and energy to do what makes you feel good.
Letting go of the number of the scale frees up the energy to focus on the things you can control, like discovering enjoyable ways to move your body or finding tasty ways to eat more produce and whole grains. If you’re struggling with the nagging feeling that you’re letting yourself go by ditching diets, focus on all the positive ways that self-acceptance is allowing you to take better care of yourself. That may mean attending a fitness class for fun rather than for calorie-burning, or cooking a nutritious and satisfying meal for yourself. Perhaps it’s going out shopping, and picking up clothes and accessories that make you feel confident. Remember that accepting yourself for the body you are in today is never a bad thing, because there is nothing wrong with the body you’re in to begin with.
Giving up a focus on weight loss and restrictive diets can be scary because it challenges an established culture in our society.
However, dieting and restriction won’t allow you to reach where you want to be physically, and it sure won’t make you feel good mentally. Whatever you weigh, you deserve to feel free around food. You deserve to have a life outside of the gym. You deserve to choose food that satisfies you in amounts you need to feel good and energized.
And most importantly, you deserve to let go of what no longer serves you.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: PATRICK FORE
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian, food enthusiast, and nutrition expert based in Columbia, SC. By guiding others to rediscover the joy of nourishment rather than deprivation, Rachael helps men and women alike improve their health and well-being through delicious whole food recipes and practical advice through intuitive eating.