Intuitive Eating as a Means to Heal Binge Eating
One of the best things you can do in your recovery journey is to understand binge eating’s role in your life. Why is it there? If we are the creators of our reality, what is it that continues to bring this struggle into your everyday experience? Well, there’s no easy (or short) answer to that question, and attempting to answer it is a very personal process. But, there are ways of intuitively approaching the healing process of binge eating.
We are all born natural intuitive eaters. For example, babies cry when they’re hungry, eat, and then stop eating once they’re full. As we grow older and become further ingrained in cultural aspects of right and wrong, we lose our innate ability to be intuitive eaters. Our grandparents told us to finish our plates, while the stars on TV represented diet restrictions. An obvious imbalance. We later learn that dessert is a reward for having eaten our food and perhaps ‘behaving well.’
At a young age, we begin to develop feelings of guilt and confusion surrounding food. It’s no surprise that we are in the food and body epidemic that we are. We have one side telling us one thing, while the other side attempts to pull us in the opposite direction. We learn to feel good about ourselves when we eat certain foods and reprimand ourselves for eating other foods.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is not a diet. It’s actually the opposite. It’s not about following a meal plan, counting your calories, portioning your food, or even making certain foods off-limits. Intuitive eating is about coming back to your roots and trusting your body. It’s about trusting your body’s hunger cues and trusting yourself enough to make choices that best reflect how you want to feel through the food you eat. Intuitive eaters give themselves unconditional permission to eat whatever they want without feeling guilty. They are eaters that rely on their internal hunger and satiety signals to guide their eating habits.
Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating
Mindful eating is the process of experiencing your food, moment-by-moment. It’s the process of opening your awareness to fully receive how the foods we eat affect one’s body, feelings, and emotions. It is the process of becoming aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through the food you eat. Through mindful eating, you use all of your senses when it comes to planning and eating your food.
Intuitive eating is similar, but there are some differences that are important to point out as you begin to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Intuitive eating is about honoring your body’s hunger and trusting your body’s way of processing the feeling of hunger. It’s a rejection of the ‘diet’ mentality. According to numerous studies, dieting is a myth and actually increases your risk of gaining weight. Intuitive eating instead is focused on positive food messages that reflect a healthy relationship with our bodies.
The Principles of Intuitive Eating
There are ten core principles of intuitive eating: reject the diet mentality, honor your hunger, make peace with food, challenge the food police, feel your fullness, discover the satisfaction factor, cope with your emotions without using food, respect your body, exercise, and honor your health with gentle nutrition.
I’ve covered a few principles already, but I think it’s important to understand that making peace with your food is the process of accepting that it’s a natural need for the human body to function. Back when I was struggling with binge eating and body image issues, I was using food beyond what it’s meant for. But now, food is just food – a means to satisfy my health and hunger. The practice of intuitive eating is a method of balancing your body’s wants and needs and discovering for yourself the relationship to food that works for you.
Balance is a necessity for a thriving life. As you develop balance within your life, you build an inner awareness that guides you through the decisions you make day-to-day. Meditation is a key part of developing and sustaining balance and healing. The truth is, mindfulness supports us in shifting our stories. A few years ago, I was on the journey of learning to trust myself with food. This distrust within myself led to crippling anxiety attacks whenever I attempted to plan a meal out. Balance is about moderation, understanding, and acceptance. It’s a lifelong journey, but intuitive eating is a way to become successful in learning about your body and the food you eat and developing a relationship with both that’s unique to you.
Decide Your Relationship to Food
The moral of the story is this, as you shift your story on being ‘healthy,’ you open your awareness of radical body acceptance, you trust yourself and accept the food you like, you eat to feel good, and you develop a strong mindset that supports your food and body journey for the better. No more blame, shame, or guilt. Only love, grace, and growth.
Understanding binge eating’s role in your life is crucial, and intuitively approaching the healing process is a never-ending journey that will continue to serve in you living your best life.