Part 4 of 4: 15 Key Lessons I Learned from Intuitive Eating

If you don’t have time to read all 4 parts of this series, here is a snapshot.

Part 1 of 4: A Weighty Subject – Walking out of the food shame closet and how my kids helped me quit dieting

Part 2 of 4: Why it was time to change my dysfunctional food relationship

Part 3 of 4: Putting an end to emotional eating

Below are some of the key lessons I learned about intuitive eating.  I really appreciate how the authors of the Intuitive Eating guide book, both registered dietitians with years of counseling experience, explain healthy living is not about will power (there is a difference between a registered dietitian and nutritionist). We do not fail at diets. Dieting has failed us.

It’s time for me to walk away from the dieting mentality. I experienced some very revelatory moments while reading this book, so much so I jotted down notes to remind myself about these pearls of common sense wisdom. Some of the more salient points I took away are:

      1. Honor myself and give up the pursuit of dieting and losing weight. Reject the diet mentality. Honor my hunger, honor my taste buds and make peace with food to honor my health.
      2. Cope with emotions without using food (this is a really hard one for me because I eat out of boredom or when I feel anxious).
      3. Deprivation leads to craving, which leads to binge eating when you finally give in to eating “forbidden” foods. This type of pattern will lead to intense and overwhelming guilt, overeating and ultimately feeling out of control. Instead, give myself unconditional permission to eat.
      4. Eat what I really want.  Food freedom eliminates the urgency to overeat (a strange mind game akin to reverse psychology for me).
      5. Allow some play foods to balance good health with pleasure and satisfaction (my play foods are cookies, chocolate, cheese, and decadent desserts).
      6. The tenets of food wisdom include variety, moderation and balance.
      7. Be active to feel good, this means do not work out just to burn calories. If an activity is not enjoyable, it’s not sustainable. Focus on how it feels to move your body.  If it feels good, you are more likely to keep doing it. For example, I love water aerobics. It’s fun for me to splash around in the water, so I enjoy suiting up and getting into the pool. Water aerobics is not something I dread or feel is punishment for not eating perfectly. I also enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood, gentle yoga, riding my bike and taking hikes in the nearby park trails. These are things I keep coming back to, doing push-ups and sit-ups at the gym are not.
      8. Like exercise, nutrition is my passport to feeling good, and exercising in short periods is the same as one long work out. (I rarely make it to an hour-long yoga class in a studio, so doing yoga for 10 minutes is still 10 minutes of movement.)
      9. Pause in the middle of eating and ask myself how the food tastes. Does this bite satisfy me the same way the first bite did? What is my current level of hunger?
      10. Using food to cope is a red flag telling me I need to pay attention to something going on in my life. Don’t beat myself up. Be kind and gentle and use this as a learning experience. This is a strange gift, but it’s a moment for me to check in with myself and really say, “What’s going on?” It’s a sign something in my life needs to be addressed.
      11. Do not deprive myself of any food which sounds appealing to me. Seek pleasure in eating.
      12. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.
      13. Enjoy eating food. Not too much, not too little, mostly what satisfies me.
      14. If I don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if I love it, savor it!
      15. I will not gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It is what I eat consistently over time which matters. It’s about progress, not perfection.
Baby Michelle honoring my taste buds and enjoying a chocolate bar
Baby Michelle honoring my taste buds and enjoying a chocolate bar
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