This one was in an e-mail from Isabel Foxen Duke. She talks about the pitfalls of intuitive or purely hunger-based eating. My thoughts at the end.
Over and over again, I see women fall into the “intuitive eating diet” trap where they clutch tightly to “hunger and fullness” as a set of rules by which to judge their performance around food.
“But what if I’m at a dinner party and I’m not hungry? Am I allowed to eat?”
“I lost control and ate a muffin when I wasn’t hungry! I suck!”
“I had a spoonful of peanut butter when I wasn’t hungry and it turned into a full-on binge!”
Yeah...because binges are what happen when you think you’re doing something wrong. As long as you’re on the “intuitive eating diet,” there’s still a wagon to fall off.
I also call this the “don't-eat-emotionally-diet,” where women “give themselves permission to eat what they want” except beat themselves up whenever they “eat emotionally,” (which by the way is a really fuzzy term, with a way worse rep than I think it deserves — another blog post for another time).
In summary, I’m not an intuitive eating coach, because I don’t actually care what you put in your mouth — I care about how you feel about what you put in your mouth; THAT's the difference between "normal eating" and "feeling crazy around food." And interestingly enough, there's a lot of science to back up the claim that people who don't feel ashamed of their behaviors with food, don't binge-eat, and eat their feelings wayyyy less than people who beat themselves up for "eating emotionally."
While intuitive eating is a wonderful communication tool that is teaching thousands of women how to connect with their bodies perhaps for the first time in their adult lives, the “intuitive eating diet,” doesn’t work. Get off of it now.
The principles of Intuitive Eating are just information, and your physical hunger cues are just communication from your body letting you know what it wants. Neither your mind nor your body should rule the other with an iron fist. It's okay to eat a cupcake for no other reason than that you want one.
Skwigg again: I was struck by that part where she says, "I don't care what you put in your mouth, I care how you feel about what you put in your mouth; THAT'S the difference between normal eating and feeling crazy around food."
I read that yesterday, and again this morning. It didn't hit me between the eyeballs until JUST NOW that that's the whole problem with listing what I eat every day. Seeing the list of food doesn't properly convey to people how I feel about those choices. Even if I try to share my thought process, it's easy enough to skim over or misinterpret that. It leaves it open for people to project their own goo...how they think I must feel. They might see safe foods, fear foods, binges, restriction, monotony, or the reckless overconsumption of dangerous chemicals, because that's what's going on in their own minds and how they would judge their own choices. Meanwhile, I'm experiencing the blissed out freedom of eating whatever and as much as I want at every meal. I'm happy as can be with my choices and my results.
How you feel about what you eat is so important! It's not what (or when, or how much) you eat that matters, it's how you feel about what you eat. Two people go out to lunch and order burgers and fries. One feels shame, guilt, panic, remorse, anger. They go home and binge on more food, vowing to restrict harder tomorrow. One feels "mmm, fries" and doesn't think anything else of it. Same food, massive difference in the way it's experienced.
I want to feel good before, during, and after I eat. That's my primary objective - eating to feel good.
Bonus points for "eyes on your own plate" and being anti-fragile. I'm still working on the last one but I feel like I'm acquiring more layers of mental bubble wrap every day.