My coaching practice is almost wholly made up of me teaching women how to do one thing – eat normally.
It’s an epidemic: diet culture has stripped away of our inherent, naturally-balanced eating habits and made us more confused than ever.
If you’re like the women I speak with daily, you’re probably confused and frustrated by the “rules of eating”. High carb? Low carb? No carb? High protein? Dairy-free? Gluten-free? Fruit or no fruit? Don’t eat at after 7? High calorie or low calorie? Reverse dieting? Nutrient timing?
What is ACTUALLY best for our bodies, and who is telling the truth?
Throw out the rules
Dieting was created for selling. It is a generalized plan that takes no personalization of physiology or psychology into account and offers an easy, seemingly FAST answer to an incredibly complicated problem. It is a marketing DREAM. This is why the diet industry brings in over 60 billion dollars each year from Americans alone.
Yet…according to multiple studies, diets have a staggering 98% failure rate. This means that only 2% of the people who try a diet actually stick to it long-term. Do you know of any other industry with such a shocking failure rate that is this successful? I can’t think of one.
This is true of ALL diets. When there are strict rules involved that are based on external reasons, our brains go into scarcity mindset and all rational thinking goes out the window. We lose the ability to make good decisions for ourselves and divorce from our own intuition. Essentially, the minute we start the diet, we set ourselves up for failure.
So how can we be healthy and reach fat loss goals without dieting? Enter intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a big picture way of life, unlike dieting. It is operating from a place of self-compassion and self-care. It is the process of getting in touch with your bio-feedback, understanding your own psychology and how to work WITH your brain instead of against it, while making self-care based decisions around what to eat instead of trying to control yourself with food.
It is exactly how it sounds: choosing what to eat based on your own intuition.
Intuitive eating offers freedom surrounding food and your body. No longer are you subject to someone else’s rules or external feedback like calorie budgets and meal plans. You create your own guidelines for eating using an abundance mindset, your bio-feedback, and gentle nutrition.
This process can be long and complicated, and unlike dieting, it is highly individualized based on previous dieting experience and current needs and habits.
But here is a rough blue-print of how I guide my clients through this process:
- Step 1: Food freedom – foods are no longer labeled good or bad, and nothing is off-limits for arbitrary reasons like weight loss or diets. If you crave something, you eat it. This lets your body know that nothing is going away again, and you do this as much as you need to until you reach an abundance mindset (the food is always there). We do not worry about weight during this phase as it can distract from the important foundation of healing your relationship with food.
- Step 2: Tuning in to body signals – what makes your body feel good, and what is making it feel bad? How much of the “fun” food can you eat before it negatively affects how you feel? Rather than set rules and beat yourself up for any over-eating or binge eating, you simply investigate it like a scientist would and ask questions to figure out what your body is trying to tell you. This requires complete trust in your body and the process, and further improves the relationship you have with your body.
- Step 3: Balance it out – meet nutrition goals at each meal in a satisfying way to make you feel your best and improve/maintain your health, and the majority of the food you eat is whole and nutrient-dense. You will sprinkle in fun foods each day to keep you in an abundance mindset. You eat what you want at restaurants and social events, keeping your energy levels and physical comfort in mind.
Result: the intensity behind food disappears. With an abundance mindset around food, you begin to make rational decisions rather than feel compulsive about what to eat. You feel free and food just becomes part of the day. And as a bonus, now that you aren’t bingeing or overeating, your weight naturally shifts to a healthy place for your body.
Intuitive eating is how I live my life and feel free around food (and exercise). There is no more stressing about what I’m going to eat when I go out: if there’s something healthy that sounds good, great! If I want something that isn’t necessarily healthy but it sounds good, that’s great too! I feel free to eat, so I don’t over-eat because I always know that I can have more later, or next time. I am in touch with my body, so I stop eating when it makes sense – I haven’t felt stuffed in years.
And because I know you want to know if it works for postpartum fat loss, here are my current results with intuitive eating:
While I’m not the leanest I’ve ever been in my life, I’m absolutely the happiest. My life no longer revolves around food. My thoughts and energy are freed up to invest in more important things. The food in my life runs on autopilot.
How about you? Do you feel free when it comes to eating, or do you feel stuck? Let me know in the comments!