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How to Break the Diet Cycle with Intuitive Eating

intuitive eating Mar 14, 2022

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Fad diets promise you the world, make you feel incredible for a little while, and then leave you feeling worse than before. At least that’s how I felt after years of hopping from one fad diet to another.

It wasn’t until I became a health coach that I was able to understand that there was an alternative to counting every calorie and tracking every macronutrient. If you or your clients are caught in the never-ending cycle of trying out the latest diet trend only to end up back at square one, it's time to break free from dieting with intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating is all about ditching calorie counting and food restrictions in favor of listening to our body's natural hunger cues. It might sound too good to be true, but once we get the hang of it, intuitive eating can help us achieve a healthy relationship with food and our bodies.

Keep reading to learn more about how to break the diet cycle with intuitive eating!

 

What is Intuitive Eating and How Can it Help Break the Diet Cycle?

Intuitive Eating is a practice developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch that is aimed at helping people become more attuned to their hunger signals by removing the thoughts and beliefs that prevent people from meeting their biological and psychological needs. [1] In other words, intuitive eating is about recognizing that there are belief systems that may impact the food choices you make.

For instance, the idea that you can only eat “clean foods” or the belief that going plant-based is the “healthiest” way to eat can have unintended consequences. Those unintended consequences are often it can encourage people to engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.

By way of example, for many years I not only had a very unhealthy relationship with food but my body. Because I believed that my body needed to be thin in order to be healthy I was consistently following an overly restricted diet.

This is a common mistake that I’ve seen many of my clients make. Instead of focusing on what they biologically and psychologically need, they focus on getting smaller. This often comes in the form of prioritizing calories and macros over our body's wants and needs.

Breaking the dieting cycle requires thinking less about the numbers and tuning more into your body. By this, I mean recognizing that we don’t get a gold star for following the most overly restrictive diet. Nor do we get a medal for spending the most hours in the gym.

While our health is important, we don’t need to go to extremes in order to be healthy. That’s why intuitive eating is vital. Rather than trusting something outside of ourselves (i.e. fad diets), intuitive eating is about tapping into your intuition (i.e. physical sensations that arise within your body) to determine what your body needs. And, the great thing is that adopting an intuitive eating practice is easier than you think!

 

How to Start Practicing Intuitive Eating

1. Learn and Master the Fundamentals of Intuitive Eating

There are many misconceptions when it comes to intuitive eating. This is why the first place that I recommend for clients and health coaches to start is with the book Intuitive Eating. While the book is far from a light read, it is one that will help you with learning about the science behind intuitive eating.

Contrary to popular opinion there is a science to support adopting an intuitive eating practice into your life. Tribole and Resch do a great job of breaking down the science. And, providing you with ways to turn theory into practical application. Further, it will help you commit once you recognize the many benefits that come with intuitive eating.

Whether you’re a coach looking to support your clients, or a client looking to take back control of your health, I highly recommend this book. You’ll not only develop a better understanding of intuitive eating, but it’ll make it easier to adopt this practice into your everyday life.

2. Take Time to Implement the Principles of Intuitive Eating

Even though the ten principles of intuitive eating may feel overwhelming, keep in mind that they build upon eachother. For instance, the principle of Rejecting the Diet Mentality is key to adopting the principles of Honoring Your Hunger and Making Peace with Food.

Focusing on one principle at a time will become a domino that makes the other principles easier to achieve. That said implementing the intuitive eating principles takes practice as well as patience.

For example, trusting your food choices and focusing on what it feels like to move your body will take practice. Especially if your thoughts and actions have been completely the opposite. Therefore, it will take patience and grace in order to allow yourself the space to implement what you’re learning. However, the challenge is worth it. I can say this as someone who has adopted intuitive eating as a practice and support my clients in doing the same.

3. Find the Right Accountability and Support

As the best-selling author, Minda Harts says, "Success is not a solo sport.” Therefore, ensuring that you have the right accountability and support is the key to success on your intuitive eating journey. That accountability can come in the form of a Facebook group where you can share the highs and lows of your journey. Or, it can come in the form of direct support from a health coach that specializes in helping clients implement intuitive eating practices into their everyday life.

Whichever path that you choose the thing to keep in mind is that we all need accountability and support. Even if you’re as disciplined as a U.S. Marine or as knowledgeable as a health coach, you are not required to go on this journey alone. Nor should you.

It makes a difference when you’re in a space with people that are on the same journey as you. And, when you have the right support it increases the likelihood that you will be successful in this journey.

 

I hope that this article has provided you with insights that you can use to support yourself or your clients in adopting an intuitive eating approach. Practicing intuitive eating gives us permission to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full. It also helps us focus on the quality of foods rather than the quantity. And finally, we get to learn to listen to our body and respond accordingly - no guilt trips necessary!

Source

1. Tribole, E. (2019, July 17). Definition of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating Pros. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/definition-of-intuitive-eating/

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