Intuitive Eating—Part 4
By: Amber Whittemore RD BSN MHSc
The final part in our Intuitive Eating series—principles 8-10.
8. Respect Your Body
In a society where we constantly see certain body shapes and sizes being elevated while others are stigmatized. Loving our bodies can be hard. Luckily, respecting our bodies doesn’t have to be quite so hard.
Consider a place where we accept our genetic blueprint, regardless of societal expectations. The steps to getting there include respect for our body and what it gives us, treating it with care, and the practice of self-compassion. These strategies help us face condemning thoughts like, “I can’t accept or respect my body unless I weigh X amount” or “I will respect my body once I lose weight, but I can’t do it before then or I will lose motivation”.
How to start Respecting Your Body: First, recognize that we are all genetically determined before birth, and often our weight is part of that determination. Second, experiment with respecting your body and treating it with dignity – regardless of your size or health journey. This does not mean “accepting fate”, it means learning to respect our bodies as they are and being grateful for all they do for us daily. Try thanking your body, rather than demeaning it. Speak to your self as you would speak to a close friend or loved one. Turn to self-care on a low day versus body sabotage.
9. Move for Joy
Allow ourselves to let go of the militant exercise. In other words, exercise that often requires us to move even when we need rest and/or exercise to “earn food” or “burn calories.” Consider a mind shift from, “getting it done” to feeling fulfilled by movement. Getting active in ways we enjoy, particularly on low energy days, still benefits our health. Forcing certain types of exercise can feel laborious, like another thing on our list.
Therefore, we can completely shift how we view of movement. Focus on listening to your body. Move it for more meaningful reasons than simply changing our body shape or size.
How to start Moving for Joy: Try focusing on how you feel before, during, and after movement. Aim to move for reasons such as increased energy, stamina, or mental health, versus weight loss. Aim to allow your body rest when it needs it, so that it can show up at full capacity when it is ready and recovered. Aim to detach movement from eating all together – these two do not need to be intertwined or dependent on one another.
10. Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Once we are ready and well-versed in ditching the diet mentality, respecting our hunger and fullness, and finding satisfaction from food, we have the capacity to make food choices that honour our whole body: health, tastebuds, and soul!
Remember, not all days will or need to be “perfect.” We know that one day or one week of less healthful eating will not lead to a sudden nutrient deficiency or change our weight in any significant way. These changes are the result of chronicity in missing essential nutrients for health. In other words, it’s what you eat consistently and over time that matters.
How to start Honouring Your Health with Gentle Nutrition: Recognize you can eat all types of food in one day, without it being black or white. Allow yourself to enjoy the foods you are craving, while simultaneously planning meals that meet your bodies needs in ways you enjoy. Working with a Dietitian may be integral in this process.
How Does Intuitive Eating Change the Conversation Surrounding Food and Dieting?
|When the “diet mentality” asks:||A neutral or intuitive view retorts:|
|•Can I have this?||•Do I want this?|
|•How do I look?||•How do I feel?|
|•How much food do I get today?||•How much food do I need today?|
|•Will this make me gain weight?||•Will this nourish me?|
|•I exercise so I can eat.||•I eat so I can move my body with joy, safely|
|•I can eat whatever I want, on cheat day.||• I can eat whatever I want, every day.|
|•Food is my enemy and my “guilty pleasure” or reward.||• Food is just food, it is a source of nourishment and pleasure.|
The Bottom Line
Intuitive Eating is a neutral approach to viewing food, our bodies, and movement. It allows us to foster a more positive relationship with these things, without putting our health on the line. In fact, it allows us to foster better health, both mentally and physically!
If you have any questions or would like to meet with a Dietitian at HEC on Intuitive Eating, feel free to reach out for guidance and support!
1Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive Eating, 4th edition. St. Martins Publishing Group.
2Mann, T., Tomiyama, A. J., Westling, E., Lew, A. M., Samuels, B. & Chatman, J. (2007) Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. American Psychology, 62(3), 220-33. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.3.220.
3Bacon, L. & Aphramor, L. (2011). Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutrition Journal, 10(9). Received from: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-10-9