Let’s discuss another one of the biggest misconceptions around Intuitive Eating and that is that it basically has zero regard for health.
The problem is that in our society we equate weight to health and we equate losing weight with getting healthier. We also believe that if we aren’t pursuing weight loss and if we are simply allowing ourselves to eat what we want then we are not taking care of our health. This could not be further from the truth. Weight does not equal health and weight loss is not always healthy! Did you know that weight loss is actually listed as a symptom of many different diseases and illnesses? A lot of people lose weight when they fall ill – that right there proves that weight loss is not always healthy.
When you decide to quit dieting and pursue intuitive eating, you are deciding to finally get more in touch with your body. To learn to listen to it, honour it, to feed it, and move it in ways that feel good! Sure, when you first quit dieting you will likely gravitate towards all the foods that you had previously restricted – this is the rebound effect of dieting. I like to think of the restrict-binge cycle as a pendulum and when the pendulum swings over to the restrict side (like when you are dieting), it is going to swing back over to the binge side before it balances out in the middle. The problem is that a lot of people don’t allow the diet rebound to happen as it needs to before jumping on another diet. This is usually because when you first allow yourself to eat what you want, well it can feel very chaotic and scary!
You must hang in there though, because soon enough food habituation will happen and all those foods that you previously felt out of control around and that you have been eating so much of will eventually lose their novelty and then you’ll simply be left with making food choices based on what you want and how you want to feel. Once we get past the “diet rebel” part of this intuitive eating journey, you learn more about how certain foods feel in your body and you are able to then learn how to eat for how you want to feel. And this is absolutely the healthiest way to eat! To tune into your body and feed it what it ultimately wants… Your body is extremely intelligent, it sends you all kinds of signs and messages every single day.
See, when you’re dieting you are busy quieting the body’s natural signals. You may not even notice your hunger signals much when you first quit dieting, simply because you have ignored them for so long. But after committing to intuitive eating and getting more in touch with your body those signals will come back!
Also, remember that there are multiple studies out there that have shown that Intuitive eating improves things like cholesterol, body image, mood, metabolism, and lowers stress levels and occurrences of disordered eating.
So, how do you focus on health without worrying about weight loss? Here’s my top tips on what to switch your focus to instead of weight:
- What can you ADD IN? Finding ways to add in more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will be beneficial no matter what you weigh!
- Regular movement – if you work a desk job or are otherwise quite sedentary all day then simply setting a goal to go for a walk for 20 mins a day will be hugely beneficial for you! Another thing, if you are sitting all day, is to set an hourly reminder to stand up and stretch! Your body will thank you!
- Prioritize good sleep – make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you have trouble getting to sleep at a decent time, set an alarm to get ready for bed, and within the hour before bedtime try to avoid all screens. The light from your phone, computer, TV, etc signals to the brain that it is daytime and therefore it can take a bit longer to fall asleep if you are staring at a screen shortly before bed.
- Self-care is number one!! What do you do regularly for self-care? Self-care should be a daily practice and it doesn’t always have to be a bubble bath or a massage. Self-care can simply be allowing yourself to watch your face shows for an hour each evening to wind down. Or just laying down listening to your fave music! Essentially – what do you do for YOU on a daily basis?
I hope this helps you differentiate between health and weight and also gives you some tangible ways in which you can focus on improved health regardless of your weight!