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How to Start Intuitive Eating

Wondering how to start Intuitive Eating? It can feel intriguing at first. To ditch diet culture and the exhausting routine of following food rules. But it can also feel really scary to think you’ll gain weight if you stop restricting your food. Keep reading or watch the video to learn how you can lose the diet today and start becoming an intuitive eater.

First, recognize the impact of diet culture.

Diet culture planted the seed that makes you feel like you’re not good enough, small enough, strong enough, or committed enough. Diet culture’s distorted interpretation of physical health has caused you more harm than good. To your mental health, emotional health, and actual physical health.

Trying to follow arbitrary rules, meal plans, and/or day-specific workout schedules can cause more stress, anxiety and self-shame than anything else. You might be noticing you go all-in for 2 weeks but then “screw up” with a binge or other self-sabotaging behavior before having to get back on plan. 

Here’s the deal though. You’re not alone. 95% of dieters experience the same. exact. thing. 

What (or Who) is Diet Culture?

This list may be long, but diet culture is not limited to just these:

  • Diet programs (Weight Watchers, 21-Day Fix, Noom, Optavia, etc.)
  • Lifestyles (Paleo, Whole30, IIFYM, Carb Cycling, Keto, Intermittent Fasting, etc.)
  • Arbitrary rules to limit calories and portion sizes based on your height & weight
  • Friends or family complimenting you for your weight loss
  • Doctors basing your health on the BMI scale
  • Life & health insurance companies that adjust rates & coverage based on weight
  • Social media influencers promoting their before/after photos and claiming if you eat or exercise like them, you too will lose weight
  • Cookbooks that swap out ingredients to be “healthified”
  • Hollywood lead actors who are mostly thin, toned and white
  • Magazines and websites that PhotoShop or airbrush all photos
  • Food brands that use words like “Skinny,” “Light” or “Diet”

Essentially, diet culture is anyone who makes you feel bad about the size of your body, your food choices, the amount you eat, or your activity levels.

Cut all ties to diet culture.

Now that you know many of the places diet culture is lurking, determine how to limit your exposure. This can be grand gestures like canceling diet plans and deleting food tracking apps. To smaller—but very effective—changes like unfollowing social media influencers.

Secondly, identify what food rules you follow.

To start intuitive eating, you know you need to disassociate from any official diet program you are participating in. Additionally though, you will need to determine if you’re still applying food rules to how you eat.

You likely have accumulated a lot of diet and nutrition rules over the years. And may be applying them to your food choices without even realizing it! This can range from anything like avoiding carbs because you were wrongly told they’re “bad.” Or not eating past 7 pm because someone says that ruins your metabolism (it doesn’t.) To limiting your portions and calories even though you’re still hungry.

Thirdly, listen and react to your body’s hunger cues

Now that you’ve turned off the noise of diet culture, you can finally begin to listen to your own body.

Start intuitively eating by asking yourself:

  • Am I hungry?
  • What am I in the mood for?
  • What will feel good in my body?
  • Am I satisfied?

You were born with the ability to self-regulate your food intake. But the messaging from diet culture, along with the arbitrary rules and standard settings built into food tracking apps, have compromised your ability to trust yourself. The more you listen to your body though, the more you can reclaim your self-trust. This is a bit of a slower process and where the work to start intuitive eating truly begins.

Note: If you’re coming off an extended period of intermittent fasting, it may be harder to identify your hunger cues again.

Finally, start reading the intuitive eating book and find support.

You can likely ditch diet culture, identify what diet rules you’re following and start to listen to your hunger cues on your own. But to truly start intuitive eating, you will need the official Intuitive Eating Book* by Evelyn Tribole and Elise Resch. This book outlines the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and how to apply them to your life. But it can be overwhelming and lonely to follow a book. Which is why…

My ultimate tip for how to start intuitive eating is to find support.

Work 1-on-1 or in a group coaching program with a nutritionist who teaches intuitive eating and is informed in Health At Every Size.

An anti-diet nutritionist (like me!) will offer unique guidance specific to your personal history with dieting and disordered eating. Personally, when I work 1:1 with clients, I rearrange the order of the 10 principles as needed. It helps craft a journey that flows best with my client’s pace and readiness.

Start Intuitive Eating today!

Schedule a free 15-minute discovery call with me to see if you’re a good fit for working 1:1 or in one of my group coaching programs. Click here to schedule your call.

4 Ways to start intuitive eating today with anti-diet nutritionist Meridith Oram

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Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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