A question I’ve been pondering since the New Year rolled around is “Why do people think they have to be ‘on a diet’ to eat healthier? Why do we have to give up X, Y, and/or Z to make different food choices? And why does the external structure of a diet feel more desirable than allowing your internal cues to tell you what to do?
When it comes to healthy eating, people believe they have to be “perfect” with food. They think that healthy eating means no ‘this’ and never ‘that.’ This rigid thinking is hard to sustain, especially when we make so many decisions about food every day – when, what, how much, whether, etc, all day long.
But people like to feel ‘in control.’ And if you’ve chronically been on a diet, it is hard to trust yourself to make the ‘right’ decisions when it comes to food.
To reject the diet mentality, you have to recognize the damage that dieting has done and continues to do. “If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating” (Tribole and Resch). Dieting has eroded your ability to trust the choices that you make.
We are all born with the natural ability to regulate our food intake. Interference from well meaning parents, external messages from society and dieting behaviors disconnect people from that internal and natural regulation, and over time people just love to make healthy eating so complicated.
The truth is that you do not have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain or lose weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It is what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts (Intuitive Eating
by Tribole and Resch).
Unfortunately, people are afraid to take risks with their eating. Our clients love to think, talk and read about Intuitive Eating, but when it comes to experimenting with food choices they feel paralyzed.
You cannot learn to play the guitar by thinking, talking and reading about it. You have to pick up the guitar and play it. And it doesn’t sound great at first, but with time and practice, you get better at it. This is what happens with Intuitive Eating. Instead of thinking,“I made a mistake,” we think “What can I learn from this experience?”
So what is one small step you can take to eat better? Pick one meal or snack of the day and start there. Over time, you will notice that when eating healthy tastes good and makes you feel better, you are much more likely to sustain the changes you make. Remember, this is about trying different, not harder!
How have your experiments with Gentle Nutrition on the path to Intuitive Eating gone? Please share with us in the comments below.
Want more great advice about learning to eat intuitively and healthfully in a diet-free way? Read Feed Your Life.
In 2005 therapist Hilary Kinavey and nutritionist Dana Sturtevant started facilitating groups to help women let go of food/weight obsession. Realizing that they shared a similar approach and philosophy regarding food, weight, body image and health – one directly counter to that of conventional institutional paradigms - the two decided to merge their practices to create a partnership that would offer a revolutionary approach to women seeking answers about eating disorders, weight concerns, exercise, and nutrition. Thus, Be Nourished was born. Encouraging a non-diet approach to food, weight and health, Be Nourished offers individual counseling, workshops, classes and retreats to tackle topics like conscious eating, hunger awareness, body acceptance, and self-compassion. For more information, visit Be Nourished.