Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Wait... did you just say intuitive eating?
How can those two words be put together???
If I ate intuitively, I'd literally eat chocolate all day. And to quote my dear friend and fellow Intuitive Eating Counselor, Rena Reiser, “This is NOT intuitive eating your describing my friend, this is actually impulsive eating”.
Intuition, unlike the voice of anxiety, is the inner calm voice we hear, the gentle sound that emanates from our deepest “self”. Anxiety is loud and screams at you... proclaims it knows the right way to be or act or to be present in the world. The screams of anxiety sound distinctly like fear based living.
In my practice, I frequently share wisdom from the book “Intuitive Eating” written by two Registered Dieticians, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, who were working in the field of private practice nutrition for many years, conducting conventional nutrition assessments and meal plans until they asked themselves, hey... how come all their clients keep coming back after they had reached their "goal" together, weighing even more than when they first started? (And they come back with a heaping pile of guilt and shame about there bodies and food choices).
When I read about their nutrition methodology, I started to recount, in my head, all the people I know who are always dieting. I couldn’t think of anyone who has kept their weight off consistently. Right, hello. Duh! That's because diets don't work. And if they did, we would all be on the same one forever and ever and be happy with it forever and ever.
Now I am almost positive by now you're rolling your eyes. Ya Ya, I’ve heard this all before... diets don’t work... blah blah blah... I still just want to be skinny. Starve. Fast. Binge. Starve. Juice. Ban carbs. Binge on carbs. Fast. Starve. Cave man. Binge...
Well... the irony of dieting is that when you restrict a certain food or food group, you tend to obsessively think about that food and ultimately binge on it. It makes you feel even worse... and then usually leads to more binging.
Why oh why???
This can happen for a few reasons. One being that food has always been your source of comfort and possibly your learned form of self care. So as a habit, as soon as you have any uncomfortable emotions, you look to food (as I have mentioned many times before, this was our first learned coping skill... learned from the glorious breastfeeding days). It can also be because dieting creates even more pleasure from food because of the added “forbidden fruit” theory.
Dieting can actually lead to the opposite of our goals... weight gain.
When we are in any calorie deficit, our bodies don't know that we are intentionally restricting food and intentionally avoiding "Gourmet Glatt" down the block (it really is down my block... I am spoiled). So the body will actually slow down our metabolism to make up for the lack of food. This often happens after a few diets (and gets worse with each subsequent diet) because our body is smart, intuitive, and thinks there is a "famine" and holds on for dear life to every spare calorie left. Hence, our busted metabolisms.
The first diet is so alluring because the weight tends to come off the easiest. Our bodies are less nervous that we will starve to death so it gives in more than in later diet rounds. Many clients even dream about that first diet like a first love... reminiscing over those "good times." Ah I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or I really love to be, because I know this will eventually really help you) but that diet is actually probably the one that worked for you the least because it brought you right to the edge of this rabbit hole of hating your body and wanting to shrink it no matter the cost.
The diet industry is a $78 billion a year industry. It is built on the backs of “repeat customers” because of the way it actually doesn't work. Like if you have ever gone to a weight watchers meeting when you were younger and then you go again in five years, and then again in ten and thrown 15 years, the same people will be at the meetings crying over the same 1/2 pound weight gain - only the starting weight of their new round of dieting is 20% more each time you see them.
Would the FDA approve a drug if it helped for a year but than actually caused worse symptoms following the drug treatment? Nope. Don’t take it from me... look around and see how many family members and friends that have been robbed of there sanity and time because they are so fixated and preoccupied on the size of their body.
I know its hard to believe, but our weight doesn't have the same effect on our health as the media will have you believe. And we have very little control over our weight, considering the major genetic component (and we are learning more and more that mental health has a huge impact). I will post all the evidence based scientific research in my next blog about how doctors and researchers are debunking old myths with new data.
We are so quick to judge a person in a larger body because of the value we place on people in small bodies.
It’s time to shift the culture. Let's all help each other climb out of the diet rabbit holes we have fallen into. We don't have to hate our bodies anymore! We can now learn to love, respect and care for them in a way that feels good! I can't wait to hear your self care wins!