When I let go of the dieting mentality and dove into intuitive eating it didn’t mean I was stuffing myself with oreos, pizza and ice cream. I feel as if there is a huge misconception that intuitive eating is eating whatever you want, whenever you want and as much of it as you want. This just simply isn’t how you put it into practice. It’s not about endorsing eating a whole lot of rubbish as I think many people understand it to be. Sure you CAN have ice cream if you want it, but after you realise you can have it whenever you want it, ice cream loses it’s power over you.
I used to be so “addicted” (well what I thought was addicted) to sugar that as soon as I had any I would just be doomed to eat anything and everything with sugar, it was very all-or-nothing thinking and I would eat ALL the sugar in the house because I had to restrict again on my next “challenge” or the following Monday to get back “on the wagon”. That mentality drove me absolutely crazy and I had such an unhealthy relationship with food. I am now learning that eating “everything in moderation” and eating intuitively means just that, you actually listen to your body, what it actually wants to eat, digging deep and not just listening to your head, it’s about really listening to your body. Some days that might be a huge salad (and generally it is) and other days it might mean you do want to eat pizza (again in moderation), I don’t eat a whole pizza, I generally will have a piece or two with a salad and I enjoy the heck out of it and I probably won’t eat it again for weeks or months unless I really feel like it. Most of the time I want to eat what makes me feel optimal on a daily basis and that simply isn’t pizza.
When you eat what you want it doesn’t automatically mean you disregard your health, what you eat does still matter but you learn that because nothing is off limits you start to choose the food you actually want to eat, not the food you think you should.
Example: I used to LOVE eating porridge for breakfast, when I was strict low carbing I didn’t eat Oats whatsoever, like ever! You know with all the “lectins” and “phytic acid” in them, I doomed them a “bad food”, when in reality they are not, they can be a very nutritious food. So I thought I am going to start eating oats again because I really miss them and love them and because I had restricted them for so long I started eating them daily. Now while I do really love Oatmeal and I will still have it now and again if my body is really craving it, I don’t choose to eat it for breakfast these days because it doesn’t really set me up for the day quite like eggs do and I really LOVE eggs! Instead I generally have a piece of toast, I cut one piece in half, one half of it I put Peanut Butter on (another food I avoided because it wasn’t “paleo”, almond butter just doesn’t quite cut it for me) and the other half I have with a poached egg. It fills me up, satisfies me and I really freaking enjoy my breakfast. That to me is eating intuitively and listening to what my body needs AND wants.
I still have healthy boundaries around food, I honour my health with good food and I have made peace with food, food is just food and I don’t demonise it anymore. From the words of Evelyn Tribole, Make Peace with Food, which is about having unconditional permission to eat. This principle is part of the core of creating a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. It’s the understanding that one food, one meal, one day does not make or break your health or weight. (There are exceptions, of course, if you have a lethal peanut allergy.) While there is certainly a nutritional difference between an apple and apple pie, making peace with food is about being emotionally neutral—not associating your food choices with guilt or morality.
I personally think we need healthy boundaries (read boundaries not rules) with everything in life, not just with food. Intuitive eating is not about giving into your compulsive desires. It’s about being conscious with your choices, if you are rational with yourself and allow yourself to make a mindful decision about what is best for your body and mind at any given time you are treating yourself with the utmost respect.