Now that we’ve talked about letting go of diet culture and honoring hunger, it’s time to get into the third principle of Intuitive Eating; making peace with food.
As humans, when we tell ourselves that we can’t have something, we tend to start wanting it even more. This goes for food too. When we tell ourselves we can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food it leads to feelings of deprivation. That deprivation then causes intense cravings, which can lead to overeating or binging on the forbidden food.
Who has experienced that before? I know I have!
Back in my disordered eating days when I told myself I couldn’t have certain foods, this cycle would start. I would avoid the food, have cravings for that food, give in, feel guilt, avoid the food again, repeat that cycle over and over again.
“WHEN YOU RIGIDLY LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF FOOD YOU ARE ALLOWED TO EAT, IT USUALLY SETS YOU UP TO CRAVE LARGER QUANTITIES OF THAT VERY FOOD” INTUITIVE EATING BY EVELYN TRIBOLE & ELYSE RESCH
I have this discussion with clients a lot. So many people are afraid of certain foods and in particular keeping them in their house. I hear it time and time again. “I have no willpower.” “I ate all of the cookies that I bought. This is why I can’t have them in the house.” Continuing to do the same things and think the same way will never break this cycle. This is called food habituation. Research about food habituation shows that the more we are exposed to a food the more our brains could care less about it.
So how do we make peace with food? Here are the steps listed in the book, Intuitive Eating.
- Pay attention to the foods that are appealing to you and make a list of them.
- Put a check by the foods you actually do eat, then circle remaining foods that you’ve been restricting.
- Give yourself permission to eat one forbidden food from your list, then go to the store and buy this food, or order it at a restaurant.
- Check in with yourself to see if the food tastes as good as you imagined. If you find that you really like it, continue to give yourself permission to buy or order it.
- Make sure that you keep enough of the food in your kitchen so that you know that it will be there if you want it. Or if that seems too scary, go to a restaurant and order the particular food as often as you like
*Once you make peace with one food, continue on with your list until all the foods are tried, evaluated and freed.
The first time you go through this process you may overeat, binge or feel out of control. This does not make you a failure! That’s normal, find some compassion and forgive yourself. Once this practice is continued these particular foods will have so much less power, and you will be able to have them in an intuitive way. It takes some time and patience, but with persistence you will get there. It takes learning all of the principles to get to a place of Intuitive Eating. We will be getting to fullness cues soon! Those are important throughout this process as well. If you feel you may need assistance with this process you can contact me here!
*If you are struggling with an active eating disorder this process may not be appropriate for you right now. I would encourage you to work with your dietitian on what is best for you right now!
10 principles of Intuitive Eating
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise – feel the difference
- Honor your health