Person eating bowl of food with chopsticks and spoon

Exploring Intuitive Eating

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February 2018! The last few months have gone by quickly, with some dramatic twists and turns along the way. Now that things have settle down a bit, I want to focus on both personal and professional development.

To help with that, I picked up a book that I saw another dietitian talk about to learn more about the application of intuitive eating in practice. The book is called “The Intuitive Eating Workbook” by Evelyn Trible, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN. These two dietitians came up with this approach for nutrition counseling back in the 90s, and it’s still going on strong today!

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What is Intuitive Eating?

For those of you who may not know, intuitive eating is a practice in which you eat the way your body was meant to. Let me explain. When you’re an infant, you have natural hunger cues that you follow. When you’re hungry, you want to eat, and when you’re not, you don’t. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, when we get a little bit older (either due to our parents or to the cultural influences of our society), we find ways to override those hunger cues. We eat because we’re bored or feeling emotional. We deny ourselves food when we’re hungry because we just ate something an hour ago and it seems too early to eat again. Over time we develop hundreds of ways to say when we can and cannot eat, and none of those reasons have anything to do with our biological needs. Thus, intuitive eating is a practice (related to mindfulness) to help people break away from those socially-imposed (or personally imposed) restrictions. It’s a return to listening to what our bodies need.

The Intuitive Eating Workbook is a self-study workbook that goes through the ten principles of intuitive eating in a brief, yet comprehensive manner. If you want the supporting research, refer to the book from which this is derived. From what I’ve read so far, it’s geared towards those who have tried diets in the past and heavily subscribe to “diet culture,” and gives the reader the tools they need to break away from that culture.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been on a diet. My experiences with food come from a place where I’ve had thin privilege, a family that appreciates food from a culinary and medicinal perspective, and through choosing a career as a dietitian. The only dietary restrictions I’ve ever had were because of my braces. While I have not been immune to dealing with the body image ideals promoted our major society as a black woman, my experience with my body has been generally good.

With this in consideration, I do hope to learn a lot. I feel that going through this book will help me reflect on more of the ways our society promotes restrictive eating in a way that causes negative psychological impacts on people. As a professional, I want to get a better perspective of not only how to help others, but to have empathy for struggles that others may have that I can’t relate to. And personally, I want to see if I have any lingering hang-ups from our diet heavy culture.

Overall, it should be a fun experience reading this book! I may do a follow-up to this post to give a review and a summary of what I’ve learned – we’ll see!