Welcome to session one of the 10-week intuitive eating series.
In this series the 10 principles that will be guiding us is taken directly from the Intuitive Eating book. Included are some tools and exercises from the intuitive eating workbook as well. If you want to take the deep dive and do this work in between the videos I recommend getting those books, not necessary but helpful.
Now I do recommend that you have a notebook, maybe a little journal to take some notes as we go through the next ten weeks. You can come back and listen to the videos as many times as you need and by all means come down to the comment section below and share your thoughts, your questions and your experiences.
If you know anybody who is struggling with their health, with their food, with their body image, with dieting please do me a favor and share this series with them so we can help spread the word and get as many people as possible on their path to food freedom.
Intuitive Eating Video – Week 1
So why this ten week series? I was a chronic dieter and struggled with my food and my body image for many many years. I attempted every diet under the sun in an attempt to lose weight, change my body composition and get healthy. It wasn’t until I gave up dieting that I was able to actually start to feel good in my body and reach some of the goals that I had for myself.
For me it happened when I was pregnant with my daughter. The reason I was able to stop dieting was for the very first time in my life instead of being concerned with how I looked I decided that I wanted to take care of my body. I really wanted to know how to nourish this baby that was growing inside me.
When you’re pregnant you don’t have to be a certain size in a certain weight you’re allowed to get fuller and bigger. When I stopped struggling with the need to change how I looked I was able then to pay attention to myself and my body and begin to create a nourishing relationship.
That’s where the shift started to happen for me.
But with that being said you need to know that it’s definitely still a daily practice, it’s not an overnight fix. It’s not something you do once and then you’re done. It’s about finding that place of peace with food and you’re body. For me it was learning to eat intuitively and my definition of intuitive eating is when you take the cues and the signals from your body as the information you need to decide what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. This is the polar opposite of dieting.
When we are dieting we are looking for external cues through external information. These external cues come from what time of day is it, what the latest diet books say and where we are trying to stick to somebody else’s idea of what healthy eating is. So intuitive eating is an invitation to connect to your inner wisdom, your knowing and your intuition.
My favorite mentor, Oasis Mark David says that many of us are on a high fact diet. What he means by that is we are consuming so much information about what we should be eating, how we should be eating and when we should be eating the right foods or the wrong foods in some cases. We have so many facts stuck in our heads that we literally fall out of trust with knowing what our bodies need and what our bodies want.
I know that for many people weight loss is a goal and why weight loss can be a byproduct. So what I want most for you throughout this course is a shift in thinking to create a kind and nourishing relationship with food and body and ultimately with self. I want you to rebuild trust with your body so that you can use that as your guidance system to what and when you want to be eating.
As it’s stated in the book Intuitive Eating it is not something that you could pass or fail. You don’t do it right or wrong. It’s a learning experience, a continuum.
Step one to this whole process is cultivating self compassion for yourself. Being kind, easy, understanding, forgiving and curious. This is the very first step in creating any type of change. So many of us want to bully ourselves and push ourselves into changing something in our lives. If you are not already coming from a place of kindness then start with step one. So by being mindful and notice your tone, notice your thoughts, notice the way you conversate with yourself. If you’re not speaking in a tone that you would speak to your best friend or your family member, I want you to begin to practice shifting that language.
There’s no doing this perfectly. You know sometimes what you’re gonna eat when you’re not hungry, you’re gonna eat emotionally. Sometimes you’re gonna eat past full. These are all parts of being in relationship with food. So give up the idea that there’s a right and a wrong way to do it and allow yourself to stay open to the process. So remember, open and easy and kind and loving and compassionate.
So the very first principle in the Intuitive Eating book, which actually starts in chapter 5, is to reject the diet mentality. Now the diet mentality is simply a way of thinking. It’s a way of an all-or-nothing approach to health and weight loss. It tends to be very harsh, very critical and very needy. Now a diet mentality is a very all-or-nothing approach to healthy eating and/or weight loss. It’s a false hope that’s sold to us by the diet industries that losing weight quickly and easily will make you happy, fulfilled and valuable. As long as we continue to attach ourselves to this broken system we find ourselves spending all of our time and our energy trying to shrink our bodies. This also shrinks our sense of self and ultimately shrinks your entire world.
Rejecting the diet mentality has to start with recognizing diet culture because we are all completely steeped in diet culture. This all starts with education. The diet culture wants to tell us what our body should look like, what our body should weight and that the most important thing that we have going on is how we look. The promise is that if we could just reach that goal weight or reach that body composition then we will be happy, fulfilled and valuable.
As long as the diet culture has us believing this then their industry continues to thrive. Because what they’ve got is the product that’s going to fix everything and going to make us feel better. But here’s the catch, they are selling us a faulty product because diets never ever ever ever work. Between 96 and 98 percent of people who lose weight on diets gain that weight back in less than one year. They find when attempting to continue to diet after that it becomes harder and harder.
For the small percentage of people who do maintain the weight very often we now engage in disordered eating behaviors. So while you may use a diet and actually be able to keep the weight off we are constantly obsessed with thinking about what we’re eating, how much we’re eating, did we gain weight or did we lose weight. So it’s a very complicated topic in my humble opinion because we put so much value on weight in this culture that it becomes confusing. You automatically think that a certain weight and a certain number equals more value. But that message is the part of a diet culture.
I want you and I to begin to create separation between that story and the truth. Whenever you approach health or weight loss by restricting food and depriving yourself of pleasure, the body automatically goes into what’s called a starvation mode. Basically the body is reserving what it has because it doesn’t know what’s coming and when it’s coming next. So if you’re giving your body very few calories and you’re holding back, the body tends to protect you and tries to make do with what you eat. There becomes a time where you can no longer white-knuckle your way to stay on the diet, then you start eating more food and gain your weight back.
So it really is this broken system that doesn’t work number one and number two gets harder and harder and harder the more you attempt to diet. We cannot get away from the fact that our bodies are so insanely smart and our bodies know exactly what to do and how to do it. So this whole process is a practice of getting back on board with our body and putting as much trust in our bodies as our bodies put into us.
So, dieting becomes this vicious cycle that is ultimately hardwired to fail. I like to think of it as a pendulum. If you have a pendulum and it’s swinging in one direction, restrict … restrict … deprive … deprive … deprive eventually it’s gonna swing back in the opposite direction with equal and opposite force. We can only get away with that type of behaviour for so long and then it all starts over again.
This is the vicious cycle. You start by feeling to want to lose weight, start to restrict and deprive and then ultimately get some cravings and then give in, start overeating and the cycle starts all over again.
The dieting industry wants us to believe that we are the failure. But you are not a failure. I am NOT a failure. This is not a conversation about morality, discipline or self-worth. This is a conversation about a faulty system that bombards us from every angle at all times.
Diets are hardwired to fail and yet we still blame ourselves. I want you to begin to recognize diet culture and the diet industry so you can begin to also say no thank you.
Some negative side effects of dieting include slower metabolism, increased desire to binge eat, preoccupation obsession with food, feelings of deprivation, sense a failure, decreased sense of willpower and risk of developing an eating disorder.
One in four people who diet will end up with some type of eating disorder. I’ve heard it said that dieting is the gateway drug for an eating disorder.
The very first principle is rooted in giving up any attachment to this very toxic diet culture. As an ex chronic dieter myself I know firsthand that the idea of walking away from dieting can actually feel very uncomfortable, even a little bit scary. Because while they don’t work it becomes something that we’re very used to as it’s comforting and safe. It feels familiar.
Our identities can get wrapped up with the dieting. Just know that that’s totally normal and it might even feel a little bit scary to let go of the fear.
In the Intuitive Eating book they list some common fears of letting go of diets. Number one … If I stop dieting I’m gonna eat all the food … reality, dieting is a trigger to overeating. Fear number two … I don’t know how to eat if I’m not on a diet … the reality, practicing getting in touch with our inner signals. Number three fear and I hear this one a lot. I’m gonna be totally out of control … the truth, there is nothing to control in the first place.
When you practice listening to your body it will guide you to a healthier relationship with food and it will bring you into the body size and shape that you are meant to be in. We are not all supposed to look the same. We are not all supposed to have the same type of body. Most bodies do not look like the bodies you see on the cover of a magazine. We don’t all have the same size hands. We don’t all have the same size feet. We don’t all have the same shaped bodies. These are all important points you need to reflect on.
One of my favorite exercises if you’re ever in a gym or in a spa or just getting a massage somewhere, while in the locker room just look at the different people walking around. Just notice the bodies. Maybe you’re at the beach the beach. How often do you see a body that looks like the cover of a magazine…. you would agree, it is not very often!
It’s also important to note that you can be healthy and fit in any size or shape body. There are plenty of people who have bigger bodies, who are super fit and healthy and there are plenty of people have very small bodies who are not fit or healthy at all. So don’t think that it all comes down to how a body looks. It comes down to how the body feels.
What I have found is that dieting really ends up becoming a way of thinking. It’s very rigid, it’s very all-or-nothing, it is not forgiving, it’s harsh, it’s critical and it doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility for the natural ebb and flow of life. The only way to really stop that cycle that we do, the dieters cycle, is to stop dieting. Which I also think can be socially a little bit awkward as well.
So many people are immersed in this diet culture that it becomes so normal to talk about food, about our body and to talk about weight. It’s like a big part of the conversation. So when you choose, hey I’m not gonna do that anymore you may notice yourself in social situations feeling a little bit awkward. These conversations do happen and they happen often. So, know that while you are healing this relationship with yourself you have permission to create space from anything or anyone that you need to.
I’m going to give you three steps to rejecting the diet mentality along with a little bit of homework, should you choose to do it …
Step one: Cultivate self-compassion, understanding, ease, forgiveness and curiosity. This is not a process that you bully yourself into. This is a willingness to see the bigger picture and to separate yourself from all of the information that you’ve been fed so that you can create your own thoughts, your own ideas and your own opinions about how you want to move forward on this journey.
Notice the internal conversation that you have with yourself. Are you being kind and easy and understanding. Or are you being judgmental and harsh and critical. What tone do you use with yourself. Just because you think something doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Write it down and journal it out for yourself.
Step number two. I want you to evaluate your history with dieting. How old were you when you started dieting? Where did you learn that you should be dieting? Did anyone in your world diet. Did anybody demonstrate it to you. What diets did you try and which diets worked? Which ones were easy and which ones hard? How did they affect you and were any of them sustainable? How did they affect your inner world and your sense of being?
Really think about this. Think about how dining has affected you over the years and then ask yourself am I truly willing to walk away from this. Am I willing to break up with dieting? Why or why not. What part of dieting is intriguing to you and what part are you afraid of. Take your journal and write your thoughts on these questions. Write it all out.
Then, step number three. I really want you to detox your environment. Anything that is in your peripheral. Anything that is in your world that encourages you to cut back on calories, count your calories, restrict your food, deprive yourself a pleasure or make your body smaller. Anything that compromises yourself, of being in yourself, of value and worth. I want you to detox from it. I want you to get rid of it.
I really want you to evaluate. What books are in your house. What magazines are in your house. What shows are you watching. What accounts are following on social media. Anything that triggers you or speaks this language to you I want you to begin to notice the conversation and to say no thank you I’m not participating in this anymore.
Along with that start to seek out things that support what you want to be developing in yourself. Health at every size. Positive body image moments. Eating for wellness. Feeling good … play … pleasure, anything that is supporting the new relationship that you are creating for yourself. Start to bring that in so you literally create an environment for yourself that is lifting you up and not tearing you down.
Give yourself permission to broaden your horizons.
So now we have covered principle number one. This is video number one in the ten-week intuitive eating series that we are going to be doing together and this week was all about rejecting the diet mentality.
We hope that this video was helpful to you. We are super interested to know what you thought of this information and would love to hear your ideas, questions and comments.
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