14 Mar 2011

Intuitive Eating - A Short Introduction

Hey everyone! I've decided to do a series of posts all about intuitive eating. As some of you may know, I've been trying to learn to eat 'intuitively' for a long time now, but I seem to keep falling down at it. I think it's because I've been trying to rush into it head first and it's been too much and too scary, so this time I'm going to approach it differently by taking a more step-by-step approach. Intuitive Eating, as some of you may know, has 10 Principles (see http://www.intuitiveeating.org/content/10-principles) and I'm going to tackle each of them one by one, until I'm comfortable with it instead of trying to do them all at once. I'm starting on 'Forgetting the Diet Mentality' and 'Honoring My Hunger' (I'll write more about them in future posts).

But first off, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, here's a quick outline of what I understand by Intuitive Eating (for a more comprehensive guide, check out the book: http://www.amazon.com/Intuitive-Eating-Revolutionary-Program-Works/dp/0312321236.) (Please keep in mind that IE is intended for people with disordered eating of all forms, including chronic dieters, yo-yo dieters and binge eaters , but my approach to it will be from an anorexia/retrictive eating recovery perspective only, focusing on the bits of it that I think are helpful to recovery).

Key Points to Remember About Intuitive Eating

If your eating intuitively, you’ll have your own unique eating style that’s not like anyone elses.
Because we all have different bodily needs and this is all about listening to your body and what your body’s asking for, instead of following external rules.

It may vary from day to day or with the time of the month.
Again, this is because its about listening to your body and your body has different needs according to hormonal fluctuations and to lifestyle changes.

Its spontaneous and flexible.
Its about eating what you really want when you really want it. It’s also about eating earlier than usual because, say, your going to the theatre, or eating later than usual because, say, you felt like hanging out with friends.  (But you need to be able to listen to your hunger and your desires to do this, and this may be hard at first after an ED).

It’s  about eating until your satisfied – neither hungry nor uncomfortably stuffedfull.

It’s about eating without guilt.
 Not viewing foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and giving yourself permission to eat all foods without judging or criticising yourself.

It is free of obsession and rules
It acknowledges that our compulsions are due to biochemical or emotional reasons and any over- or under-eating is a clue to begin looking further as an opportunity for learning.
It should feel good and relaxed.
I should emphasise that Intuitive Eating is NOT ADVISABLE IN THE EARLY STAGES OF RECOVERY when you really need to stick to your set meal plan. You need to have made considerable progress before you can start working on this. Here's more info: http://www.evelyntribole.com/uploads/Tribole.IntuitiveEating.Eating%20Disorders.2010.pdf

It’s about eating to fulfil physical not emotional needs.
This doesn’t mean never comfort eating, but it does mean not using food as your main source of love or comfort.

It’s about recognising that eating is just eating.
How you’ve eaten, what you’ve eaten, when you’ve eating has nothing to do with your value as a person or how 'in control' you are. If you’ve eaten chocolate cake, then you’ve….eaten chocolate cake! Nothing more, nothing less. You’ve not failed or succeeded or been ‘good’ or been shameful or been out of control. You’ve just eaten. Period.

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