The #1 Reason Intuitive Eating Fails…

When did “intuitive eating” become the Hunger & Fullness Diet? Can someone please explain to me why the world has forgotten the “intuition” part of “intuitive eating?”

Because let me tell you, “intuitive eating” does NOT mean “eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full…or else.”

It means using that little voice inside of you, that also reminds you to lock your door before you fall asleep, and not go home with that asshole you met at some bar.

Your intuition is a product of your mind, body and spiritual knowing. It’s a part of your body (hence hunger and fullness play an important role in guiding it), but it’s not ONLY your body.

It’s also informed by logic, environment, as well as something entirely different — something metaphysical; something only you can know in yourself.

It’s the voice that tells you what to order at a restaurant, when you’re not all that hungry, but want to enjoy food and festivities with friends (If you’ve emailed me and asked me what to do when “you’re not hungry” and have set dinner plans, you’re definitely on the Hunger and Fullness Diet, and not eating intuitively).

Bring the “intuition” back into your intuitive eating journey, and your world will change. Not just your food, Your World. Hint: Intuitive eating is practice for intuitive living, and vice versa. They can not be successfully separated. 

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When did “intuitive eating” become the Hunger & Fullness Diet? Can someone please explain to me why the world has forgotten the “intuition” part of “intuitive eating?”

Because let me tell you, “intuitive eating” does NOT mean “eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full…or else.”

It means using that little voice inside of you, that also reminds you to lock your door before you fall asleep, and not go home with that asshole you met at some bar.

Your intuition is a product of your mind, body and spiritual knowing. It’s a part of your body (hence hunger and fullness play an important role in guiding it), but it’s not ONLY your body.

It’s also informed by logic, environment, as well as something entirely different — something metaphysical; something only you can know in yourself.

It’s the voice that tells you what to order at a restaurant, when you’re not all that hungry, but want to enjoy food and festivities with friends (If you’ve emailed me and asked me what to do when “you’re not hungry” and have set dinner plans, you’re definitely on the Hunger and Fullness Diet, and not eating intuitively).

Bring the “intuition” back into your intuitive eating journey, and your world will change. Not just your food, Your World. Hint: Intuitive eating is practice for intuitive living, and vice versa. They can not be successfully separated. 

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Nail Yourself to the Present Moment with Food

livenowRecovering from diet-binge cycling, 

requires learning how to sit in this present moment with food, 

without grasping for the next diet,

without leaping for some attempt to fix it,

without trying to “figure out” your plan of escape.

It requires learning to sit with a full belly when you have one

or with your body exactly as it is,

without being wooed back into grand planning with food—plans that only take us further away from what our bodies need right now, and set us up for a repeat of the cycle once more. 

The truth is, “intuitive eating,” by definition, can only happen in the present moment. I can’t know what I’ll be hungry for outside of the moment that I’m hungry for it—I can’t predict with certainty what my body will need in five minutes, or five hours or five days. 

All I can do is sit in what’s happening right now, and listen for the next right action, one moment at a time, as it’s made clear to me. 

The only commitment to be made, is to nail myself to the present moment with food.**

**A Pema Chodron idea.

Recovering from diet-binge cycling, 

requires learning how to sit in this present moment with food, 

without grasping for the next diet,

without leaping for some attempt to fix it,

without trying to “figure out” your plan of escape.

It requires learning to sit with a full belly when you have one

or with your body exactly as it is,

without being wooed back into grand planning with food—plans that only take us further away from what our bodies need right now, and set us up for a repeat of the cycle once more. 

The truth is, “intuitive eating,” by definition, can only happen in the present moment. I can’t know what I’ll be hungry for outside of the moment that I’m hungry for it—I can’t predict with certainty what my body will need in five minutes, or five hours or five days. 

All I can do is sit in what’s happening right now, and listen for the next right action, one moment at a time, as it’s made clear to me. 

The only commitment to be made, is to nail myself to the present moment with food.**

**A Pema Chodron idea.

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“Feeling your Feelings” is not the full story…

IMG_2292We often hear “emotional eating experts” encourage women to “feel their feelings” instead of “numb out” with food.

Which is somewhat sound advice, as there is no doubt in my mind that getting in touch with your emotions is incredibly important for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you eat over them — I encourage my clients to feel their feelings whether they eat while doing so or not. 

That being said,  

thinking we can live a life without coping mechanisms is totally unrealistic — it goes against our biological instincts to seek pleasure and avoid pain. 

You will experience discomfort for the rest of your life, and you will reach for some kind of coping mechanism to deal with at least a portion of that pain.

Not to mention that coping mechanisms are what allow us to function during times of emotional duress. We need breaks from crying when trauma occurs. Feelings can’t be processed every moment of every day. We have to get out of bed, go to work, pick up the kids, do our laundry...

Coping mechanisms take the edge off so we can show up for life in the midst of our pain. 

Now,

when we need to pull out a coping mechanism (for whatever reason), humans usually go for the one that seems most appealing or soothing in the moment— which is usually determined by gut-instinct, not “logic.” 

The truth is, we’re not necessarily in control of which coping mechanism we choose when we’re experiencing discomfort (which is one of the reasons “taking a warm bath” doesn’t work).

But we do know one thing — dieting (i.e. trying to control our food/weight) — keeps food on the brain, so we’re more likely to turn to food as our “go-to” coping mechanism.

In other words,

The more we obsess,

the more we try to control food,

the more time we spend googling paleo recipes…

the more likely we are to turn to food for comfort. 

When we stop dieting, however, and let our natural, biological instincts around food take over without guilt, judgement, or attempts at controlwe naturally start to develop new non-food-related coping mechanisms. We make space in our brain for new practices of self-care to emerge. 

We often hear “emotional eating experts” encourage women to “feel their feelings” instead of “numb out” with food.

Which is somewhat sound advice, as there is no doubt in my mind that getting in touch with your emotions is incredibly important for reasons that have nothing to do with whether or not you eat over them — I encourage my clients to feel their feelings whether they eat while doing so or not. 

That being said,  

thinking we can live a life without coping mechanisms is totally unrealistic — it goes against our biological instincts to seek pleasure and avoid pain. 

You will experience discomfort for the rest of your life, and you will reach for some kind of coping mechanism to deal with at least a portion of that pain.

Not to mention that coping mechanisms are what allow us to function during times of emotional duress. We need breaks from crying when trauma occurs. Feelings can’t be processed every moment of every day. We have to get out of bed, go to work, pick up the kids, do our laundry...

Coping mechanisms take the edge off so we can show up for life in the midst of our pain. 

Now,

when we need to pull out a coping mechanism (for whatever reason), humans usually go for the one that seems most appealing or soothing in the moment— which is usually determined by gut-instinct, not “logic.” 

The truth is, we’re not necessarily in control of which coping mechanism we choose when we’re experiencing discomfort (which is one of the reasons “taking a warm bath” doesn’t work).

But we do know one thing — dieting (i.e. trying to control our food/weight) — keeps food on the brain, so we’re more likely to turn to food as our “go-to” coping mechanism.

In other words,

The more we obsess,

the more we try to control food,

the more time we spend googling paleo recipes…

the more likely we are to turn to food for comfort. 

When we stop dieting, however, and let our natural, biological instincts around food take over without guilt, judgement, or attempts at controlwe naturally start to develop new non-food-related coping mechanisms. We make space in our brain for new practices of self-care to emerge. 

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Reality check: ALL eating is “emotional”

IMG_5097People often ask me,

do you really never eat emotionally anymore?

To which I usually reply something along the lines of, “of course not, everyone eats emotionally sometimes…and anyone who tells you differently is either lying OR pretty f’ing crazy around food (read: restrictive).”

As my friend Wendy Shanker once said, “there are only 6 people who eat food righteously as fuel, and all six of them are Kenyan Marathon runners.”

More on that here…

Lately, however, I’ve been re-framing my answer to this question, because at this point in my eating career, I don’t really categorize my behaviors as either “emotional” or “for physical hunger” in my mind anymore.

The truth is, my food choices are rarely, if ever, either “emotional” or “physical.” They’re almost always both, just in differing degrees and combinations.  

Everything I eat affects me physically AND emotionally, by virtue of the fact that all food both affects my blood sugar and gives me sensual pleasure (i.e. makes me feel good).

And like all other evolutionary processes designed to make us feel good (cough *sex* cough), it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to separate food from emotion entirely.

My relationship with food, like my relationship with sex, is always a dance driven by both physical and emotional desire. And labeling our food choices as motivated by one or the other is not generally practical or realistic in the long run. 

That being said, in the beginning of one’s anti-diet or “intuitive eating” journey, labeling our choices as being either “physical” or “emotional” can be helpful when trying to learn the language of our bodies — a practical tool for early non-dieters to re-learn what they’re bodies are actually calling for, particularly after years of ignoring them.

In the long run, however, we must acknowledge that this way of thinking about food is elementary at best — an oversimplification of a biological process that is much more complicated and nuanced than that.

Food is not “just fuel.” Just like sex is not just reproduction.

And honoring both our physical and emotional desires in all of our eating choices is an important part of not falling into the “hunger and fullness diet” trap.

My suggestion? Let your physical and emotional hungers work in tandem. Let them inform one another, rather than overpower one another. Don’t deny either — as that may easily lead to rebellion — but rather, explore different ways of satisfying and honoring both, in food and in life.

Like this post? Sign up here for free weekly(ish) coaching emails.

 

People often ask me,

do you really never eat emotionally anymore?

To which I usually reply something along the lines of, “of course not, everyone eats emotionally sometimes…and anyone who tells you differently is either lying OR pretty f’ing crazy around food (read: restrictive).”

As my friend Wendy Shanker once said, “there are only 6 people who eat food righteously as fuel, and all six of them are Kenyan Marathon runners.”

More on that here…

Lately, however, I’ve been re-framing my answer to this question, because at this point in my eating career, I don’t really categorize my behaviors as either “emotional” or “for physical hunger” in my mind anymore.

The truth is, my food choices are rarely, if ever, either “emotional” or “physical.” They’re almost always both, just in differing degrees and combinations.  

Everything I eat affects me physically AND emotionally, by virtue of the fact that all food both affects my blood sugar and gives me sensual pleasure (i.e. makes me feel good).

And like all other evolutionary processes designed to make us feel good (cough *sex* cough), it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to separate food from emotion entirely.

My relationship with food, like my relationship with sex, is always a dance driven by both physical and emotional desire. And labeling our food choices as motivated by one or the other is not generally practical or realistic in the long run. 

That being said, in the beginning of one’s anti-diet or “intuitive eating” journey, labeling our choices as being either “physical” or “emotional” can be helpful when trying to learn the language of our bodies — a practical tool for early non-dieters to re-learn what they’re bodies are actually calling for, particularly after years of ignoring them.

In the long run, however, we must acknowledge that this way of thinking about food is elementary at best — an oversimplification of a biological process that is much more complicated and nuanced than that.

Food is not “just fuel.” Just like sex is not just reproduction.

And honoring both our physical and emotional desires in all of our eating choices is an important part of not falling into the “hunger and fullness diet” trap.

My suggestion? Let your physical and emotional hungers work in tandem. Let them inform one another, rather than overpower one another. Don’t deny either — as that may easily lead to rebellion — but rather, explore different ways of satisfying and honoring both, in food and in life.

Like this post? Sign up here for free weekly(ish) coaching emails.

 …

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