Have you ever seen a kid push away a plate of the most luscious chocolate dessert because she is full? What seems to require superhuman effort to us is completely natural to a young child who has not yet been taught to restrict food for weight loss or other external reasons. Before we learned to count calories, assign labels to food (“celery makes you skinny,” “cake is fattening”) or make food into a moral issue (“I was bad today because I ate pizza.”), food was simply an enjoyable experience, and a way to fill our bellies. And when our bodies told us we had enough, we listened.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot how to listen.
Swapping your body’s internal hunger/satiety signals for an external set of eating rules is bound to backfire. Whether it’s counting points on Weight Watchers, eliminating entire food groups on Atkins, or playing a cavewoman on Paleo, outsourcing your body’s need for food will most likely lead to disordered eating and obsessing over food.
Oh, and it won’t work.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia found that within 2-5 years post-diet, 95-97% of people regain the weight they had lost. Has a diet ever given you long-term results?
Not Another Diet In Disguise
With Intuitive Eating, you are the expert on your own body and your own internal hunger and satiety cues. IE is simply a way to reconnect to your body’s innate need for nourishment and satisfaction.
IE is not a radical approach. Dieting is radical. IE is simply a natural response to the way our bodies are programmed to eat. In fact, we bet you know at least one naturally intuitive eater. Maybe it’s your brother, or your best friend, or maybe that one girl in high school who never fell prey to the calorie-counting, weight-watching hysterics that teen girls often do. You know, the girl who ate an entire bagel for lunch without scooping out the extra bread inside to save calories.
These miraculous specimens aren’t tied to a weigh-in ritual and have never felt a pull to finish someone’s leftover French fries. In other words: they’ve never dieted. To these naturally intuitive eaters, food is free of anxiety, guilt, restriction, and the polar forces of diet and binge. They know instinctively that to eat and be satisfied is a basic human right.
In their book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch put forth ten principles of IE. In this column, we will focus on one of those principles per month, and give you the tools to help incorporate it into your life.
Embarking on a journey towards Intuitive Eating requires a realization that any program that relies on external cues for eating – a food plan, points system, or rule book – is unlikely to lead to lasting peace with food.
This month, take note of your own eating habits. Notice your attitudes and behaviors around food without trying to change anything. For example, what do you eat each morning? Do you try to satiate your hunger with a few cups of coffee, hoping to “save” calories? Or perhaps you force down a fat-free Greek yogurt because you have been told by a well-meaning nutritionist that “the right breakfast will jumpstart your metabolism”? Or maybe you are not hungry at all because of a late-night binge?
Don’t judge yourself, just be curious.
Let’s Do This Together
If you are tired of the diet-binge cycle, tired of being afraid of foods and planning your life around what you can or cannot eat, we welcome you on a journey to finding peace with food. Trust us, you’ll never look back.
Have a question about Intuitive Eating? Email Rena Reiser at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question may be featured in an upcoming column!
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What is Intuitive Eating?
It’s the anti-diet.
It’s the solution to the diet-binge cycle.
It’s a recovery.
Developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating (IE) is an evidence-based approach that relies on your body’s basic intuition to feed itself. While diets depend on external messages to determine our food intake, IE trusts in the body’s natural nutritional wisdom.
We are all born with the instinct to read our bodies’ signals. Just as our body will tell us when we need sleep, and how much of it we need, our body is programmed to tell us how to eat.
IE helps us reverse the damage the dieting culture has wreaked on our body’s natural wisdom. It leads us back to the basics. It may have been many years since you’ve lived fully in your body, but rest assured, you can return.
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The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating
Adapted from Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Reject the Diet Mentality
Honor your Hunger
Make Peace with Food
Challenge the Food Police
Respect your Fullness
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
Respect your Body
Exercise – Feel the Difference
Honor your Health
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Are you tired of losing weight and gaining it back?
Diets lure us with the promise of extreme weight loss, but they never work for long. Yo-yo dieting is extremely unhealthy for our bodies and our minds.
Our culture may value a Photoshop-thin figure, but until we come to terms with our God-given bodies, we will forever be fighting the scale.
Every individual has a natural weight set point that is a healthy resting place for his/her body, and the good news is that IE has been proven to get you there! Once your body finds its set point, your weight will stabilize and your body will rejoice at its natural resting point. It may not be a size 0, but it will be perfect for you. Good riddance, bathroom scale!
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Rena Reiser and Elisheva Blumberg
Rena Reiser is a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She has changed the lives of countless women who have tried dieting and are “fed up.” She helps women come to peace with both food and life by discovering and satisfying our real hunger. She lives with her family in Karmiel. Find her at towardsahealthybalance.com. Elisheva Blumberg is a freelance writer living in Edison, NJ. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was previously published in Olam Yehudi, a publication of The Jewish Press