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Intuitive Eating – Guilt-Free Eating


This is a meal I had a year ago in Miami at a patio restaurant in the business district.  My son Nick and I had been walking for a couple hours appreciating the tall buildings and had earned our appetites.

The meal was so  beautiful, I had to stare and study the artistry of it.  Once I took this photograph, I settled into smelling and tasting it.  I took a bite, savored it, and oh!  It was succulent!  Superb!

Intuitive Eating has me enjoying food this way.

There was a time I didn’t because I had “food rules” in my head.  “Shouldn’t eat this.. should eat that… too many calories…. ” And please don’t get me started on the guilt I had for eating what I wanted!

Twenty-some years ago I read a book by Geneen Roth called Feeding the Hungry Heart.  It was at that point when my training as a dietitian was challenged, and my eyes were opened to the reasons so many people struggle with eating.  Suddenly, counting calories, having a meal plan, or being told to exercise gave way to something much deeper:  human emotion and spiritual need.  The title Feeding the Hungry Heart pretty much said it all.  It reminded me of something Ann Landers said:  “It’s not what you are eating… it’s what’s eating you.”

I stayed on that path and discovered The Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin and Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  More books surfaced with this philosophy, and my thought process was further expanded with the concept of mindful eating.

Think about the last meal you ate.  On a scale of how hungry you were, how would you rate your hunger (1 being not hungry to 10 being ravenous.)  If you were not hungry but ate anyway, what was the reason you ate?  Was it because “it was mealtime” or “the food was there” or “it’s my habit to eat every few hours” or “we were celebrating an event.”  Do you realize that none of those reasons are connected to hunger?   We eat when we are happy, sad, upset, anxious, tired, bored, because it is time to eat, because we just saw a TV commercial with food in it, because someone said, “let’s order pizza” or because we don’t know what to do.  Assess your surroundings.  Are you ever more than 5 minutes away from food?  Do you tend to grab and eat before even asking yourself if you are hungry?  This impulsivity can result in unwanted pounds.

The goal of my Intuitive Eating classes is to help people learn to honor and respect their bodies, including acknowledging cues for hunger and fullness.  These are the cues we were born with and why I say babies are the smartest eaters on earth!  They squirm when hungry and stop when full.  As children grow up, they are encouraged to leave their intuition and eat for other reasons (“clean your plate”, “eat all your vegetables” and “never skip breakfast,” etc.)  The problem with those messages is that they encourage eating when hunger isn’t present, which can lead to storing unnecessary calories as fat.

The authors of the book describe Intuitive Eating this way:

“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person does not change because you ate a so-called ‘bad’ or ‘fattening’ food.”

Intuitive Eating classes are starting April 14th (morning and evening options) and space is limited to 8 people per class.   If you are ready to make peace with food and trade in chronic dieting for “eating normally”, this class is for you.  Another non-diet class, Outsmarting Overeating, is scheduled for June.  It is based on the book with the same name by Karen Koenig and focuses on learning life skills that thwart emotional overeating.  If you are tired of the dieting roller coaster and you want to make peace with food and your body, join me for one of these classes.  You can register on the Tele-classes page or contact me at [email protected]

Photo credit: Bev Benda

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