This is quite possibly the biggest “but” I get when I talk about intuitive eating (IE) or health at every size (HAES). "But what about nutrition” because there is an assumption that these compassionate and sustainable approaches to health are uninterested or ignore what people are putting into their bodies.
The short answer is that they don’t ignore nutrition at all.
The longer answer is that these practices teach us to approach our health from a place of personal power rather than from dogma and to recognize the many factors that impact our health - not just food. It’s not until we can connect with the things we actually need and learn to manage our mental and emotional lives without food that we can approach nutrition from a place of self-compassion rather than another attempt at controlling the uncontrollable.
We are all, even those of us who practice IE and HAES, steeped in a culture that celebrates thin bodies, celebrates any weight loss (even if it’s a result of illness), passes judgement on people who have bigger bodies, mask our thin desire by being concerned about health and where weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has been proven to provide short term results, declined health and ultimately leads to weight gain.
Amongst all of that noise and all of those contradictory rules, hyper-focusing on nutrition or making it the #1 priority seems to be both the problem and the solution.
Part of the process in adopting intuitive eating and learning about health at every size is becoming attuned to your own body so that when something needs changing you have the power to change it or find the support you need to change it. After sifting through the layers of dogma and mistrust of our own bodies, you can learn to listen to your body, it can be an ally instead of the enemy.
After doing the work of intuitive eating you begin see nutrition through a different lens.
A lens that is less judgmental, more sustainable and enjoyable, that easily recognizes what foods feel good and is at ease balancing “work” foods with “play” foods. If our body needs a specific adjustment, we do it out of acceptance and respect.
It’s amazing how different the landscape of eating and nutrition becomes when eating perfectly is no longer there to create pressure, stress and guilt. When we can give ourselves full permission to learn about our bodies, we get to be in the drivers seat again.
You don’t need much to start this journey besides awareness, an open heart and curious mind. It’s cultivating a relationship with yourself rather than micromanaging yourself.
Today can you simply notice how you’re feeling, ask yourself if there is anything you need that sounds good? When you eat, ask yourself how the food makes you feel? What does it feel like to eat ____ for breakfast? What about eat ____ for dessert?
What did you notice? I’d love to hear and if you’re interested in taking a closer look at this work, I’d be happy to share more with you.