Don’t replace your old set of rules with another. Removing the diet mentality is ultimately about relearning and rediscovering yourself.
BY: PAIGE SMATHERS, RDN, CD
If you’re someone who has decided you’ve had enough of diets, intuitive eating may be an approach you’re currently practicing. However, it is important remember that it’s a practice that takes time, as many often find themselves feeling discouraged when they aren’t able to always eat intuitively. They lament that they occasionally fall back into the dieting mentality, fail to perfectly honor hunger and fullness, or fall short in finding satisfaction at meals.
This sentiment of feeling like you’ve fallen short on your goal is common, and can especially be difficult when you’re trying to figure out how to walk away from dieting. But let’s discuss these premises and unpack them a bit, and see if we can come out on the other side feeling a little better by understanding what the true intentions and goals are.
1. Don’t make it another goal to hit.
The goal of doing intuitive eating work— whether you’re in recovery from an eating disorder or you’re walking away from chronic dieting—isn’t to become an intuitive eater. If you’re thinking about the principles around intuitive eating as a new checklist to judge whether or not you’re “good” or “on the right track”, you will continue to feel like you’re coming up short.
2. Creative positive experiences.
In many ways, intuitive eating is a framework that helps you figure out how to approach food, eating and health in a way that’s truly life-affirming and positive. And, positive, healthy self-care will look different from person to person, and that’s okay. When we use intuitive eating as a rubric for our worthiness, then it becomes no different from dieting.
3. Focus on self-care.
Intuitive eating and similar schools of thought, such as mindfulness and Health at Every Size, can be useful as frameworks to work from. Ultimately, we’re just trying to live our best lives and learn to care for ourselves in a way that promotes well-being. We’re not trying to be intuitive eaters, we’re trying to take great care of ourselves nutritionally. We’re trying to create behaviors, thought patterns, and self-care that’s in alignment with what matters most to us.
4. Stay free from more rules.
The only way to feel confident in where you land with your beliefs around your eating patterns and allowing yourself to feel free from nutrition dogma is simple: you have to know yourself. This work becomes so much more than learning principles of intuitive eating. It’s about learning more about yourself, and then making skillful choices that make you feel your best.
Ultimately, the process of intuitive eating is about discovering what’s best for you. Eat in a way that’s in alignment with your values and what makes you feel great. And, in order to do that, you have to learn about yourself. This is about learning more about yourself so you’re able to care for yourself well.
It’s not about being “perfect” at following a new set of rules.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: BROOKE LARK
Paige Smathers, RDN, CD is a nutrition therapist based in Salt Lake City who helps individuals find positive ways to overcome struggles they experience with food and body image. She specializes in practical, down-to-earth solutions for those in eating disorder recovery and chronic dieting through a weight-neutral positive approach. Paige hosts the popular Nutrition Matters Podcast and runs her private practice, Positive Nutrition.