Intuitive eating has been popping up in wellness and health blogs recently. It is essentially about being guided by your body’s signals verses thinking with your mind when it comes to eating. It runs deeper (as it often does when it comes to our relationship with food and our bodies). One article summed it up as developing self-trust. “Trusting that you can teach yourself that you can eat what you want, when you want and not gain a million pounds.” It allows “your body to naturally find its healthy and happy weight (which may be higher or lower than you are right now).” This self-trust ends up leading to food freedom.
I mostly agree with this principle and I do believe it can help with disordered thinking, body shame, guilt and a host of other emotional issues that come along with food. However, I do think it’s important to also understand the value of discipline, portion control, recognizing emotional eating triggers and mindfulness too. Many of these things intermix with intuitive eating. For most people on the health and wellness path, staying lean and physically fit is extremely rewarding and very much worth it in terms of all the positive effects it has for our health. However, it’s important to know that it also takes hard work, consistency, discipline, balance and moderation. While I have never been on a true diet or severely restricted myself, I also have over the last 20 years become very mindful and dedicated to honoring my body. Many times this includes NOT indulging in dessert, wine, fried food or anything overly processed. Do I eat those things on occasion? Absolutely. However, they are not a part of my daily life and I never feel sad or deprived. In fact, I feel MORE self-trusting when I say no to cake or a second glass of wine. I know what’s good for me and I know how I want to feel. Indulging in certain foods like that too frequently will not help my body feel its best. By exercising some critical thinking and eating whole, real, fresh food daily, I don’t crave unhealthy things. Do I make dessert at home a lot? Yes (look at my Instagram @rachelmcnamara8053). Do I love a glass or two of red wine? Hell yes. However, by not eating or drinking these things all the time, when I do have them, they taste even better.
Everyone is going to have a different journey with their relationship to food. If intuitive eating works for you—wonderful. I think it’s a form of freedom. For me, it’s a little more gray—I do practice some intuitive eating, I absolutely trust myself AND I do need to exercise some discipline and willpower on any given to day to ensure I am treating my body with the love and respect it deserves.