I listened to the Love, Food podcast #86 with Evelyn Tribole called "Intuitive Eating Never Works for Me." The letter-writer says she tries to eat intuitively but is still dealing with diet shoulds. She feels like she should eat less or get a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but then she ends up getting the burger, and fries, and a "body positivity" milkshake for good measure. She ends up feeling full, sick, and disappointed.
The thing is, just about everybody experiences this. It's normal and it's related to having dieted, not to intuitive eating. I definitely experienced it when I first tried intuitive eating years ago. I liked the idea of it, but the reality is that I would use intuitive eating and body positivity as an excuse to rebel and overeat. I'd feel stuffed, guilty, and afraid, and go back to dieting, which only kept the restrict/rebel pattern in place.
In the moment, it's hard to recognize why you feel the way you do. One of the suggestions is that if you feel guilt, shame, or fear around food, step back and ask yourself which rule or belief you feel you've broken. What thought went through your head right before those feelings? That practice would have been so helpful for me. I had a million unquestioned diet and weight "truths" that were stressing me out. The diet industry makes us feel trapped with all-or-nothing thinking. One wrong move, one wrong bite and we're ruined. Reality is more like a toddler learning to walk. Falling is part of it, just like too-much-milkshake is part of it. It's not evidence of failure or hopeleness. If you get curious, it's a valuable learning opportunity.
That was probably my biggest challenge when I tried to go right from dieting to intuitive eating. I didn't know how to question the diet thinking that was causing me to feel miserable and eat past fullness. I wasn't kind, curious, or checking in. I was either dieting or eating freely and bashing myself for it. I had associated intuitive eating and body acceptance with being too full and feeling guilty and uncomfortable in my skin.
They mentioned the Intuitive Eating Workbook in the podcast. That really is the step-by-step guide to identifying any lingering diet thinking so that it doesn't hose you when you're trying to listen to your body in the moment.