I’ve written about Intuitive Eating many times (there’s a 4 part series about it HERE), I practice it in my personal life and I coach women through it’s process. Right now I’m spending Tuesday mornings on the phone with one of the authors/creators, Evelyn Tribole as I become certified as an Intuitive Eating Counselor.
I hope I’ll be able glean some of what I learn to you here on the blog. I love, love, love being the student and you get to reap the benefits by reading along here.
In order for you (or me) to get where we want to go, it’s a pretty good idea to know where we’re starting. It gives us an idea of how to prepare and what tools we might need along the way.
Becoming an intuitive eater was a goal of mine 3 years ago. Learning my eating personality before I embarked on this journey gave me some expert information on the how I was eating and to be honest I was surprised that I fit into any category because I considered myself a pretty mindful eater. Turns out I wasn’t and I had a lot of stories, fears and resistance to work through.
Here are the types of eaters identified by the authors of the book, Intuitive Eating:
THE CAREFUL EATER (this one was me)
- Scrutinizing and worrying about food labels,
- analyze and anguish over each morsel of food
- appear to be “perfect” eaters (look at health/fitness instagram feeds)
- seem very health and fitness oriented
- spends many waking hours planning out meals and snacks or worrying about what to eat
- is not officially on a diet but chastises all unhealthy foods
- eating is guided by a schedule - eat “good” all week and “cheat” on the weekend
This one is tricky because, as I experienced I thought I was just being healthy, but there is a thin line between wellbeing and militant. It’s the difference between caring about health (being mindful of ingredients, taking care of yourself and planning meals) and doing it for the sake of body image, self image or perfection and the line is VIGILANCE. A careful eater is constantly worried about the image and being good. Society and culture equate eating right (whatever that is) and exercise as a moral act, as in you’re a good person if you conform to the norm and you’re bad if you don’t.
THE PROFESSIONAL DIETER
- perpetually dieting
- up on latest diet, trends or weight loss gimmick
- will go on fasts or liquid cleanses or commit to “cutting back”
- well versed in portion sizes, calories, macronutrients (fat, carb, protein grams) and dieting tricks
- eating choices are almost always for the sake of losing weight
- common diet cycle: diet, weight loss, weight gain, binge, another diet
Yo-yo dieting makes it more and more difficult to lose weight - so it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. There are many side effects from dieting including rapid weight gain, emotional/mental distress, metabolic suppression and it triggers the body to store more fat. Unfortunately, it can feel so gratifying to anticipate the next diet “working” people forget that their past attempts have failed - and not because of them, it’s because that’s what diets do.
THE UNCONSCIOUS EATER
- eating while doing other things (watching TV, driving, working, reading)
- lives and over scheduled life - busy, busy, busy
- whatever’s available will be eaten
- nutrition and diet are important but not when they are IN chaos
- difficult to identify biological hunger so they often go without eating until ravenous
- vulnerable to the presence of food regardless of hunger/fullness
- hard to pass up candy jars or food on the counter
- often not aware they are eating
- values the food dollar
- clean plate club
- eat others’ leftovers
- uses food to cope with emotions, especially stress, anger and loneliness
- might grab candy or chips when stressed or binge
These types of unconscious eating lead to overeating, which doesn’t feel good physically or emotionally. There is a lapse in consciousness and a disconnection from the body somewhere between the first bite and the last. It’s using food to zone out instead of giving yourself what you need.
Each of these styles are ineffective ways of eating. Each of these styles perpetuate a cycle that hasn't been working for you and leads to feelings of guilt. The cool part is that from any and all of these places if you’re willing to break the cycle, you can tap into your own intuitive eater, which is there, she’s just been buried.
- eats according to inner signals (mostly)
- eat what they choose without feeling guilt
- experience pleasure and satisfaction when eating
- feels neutral about leaving food on their plate if they’re full
- does not experience fear of judgment from self or others
- implements self-care so food is not an emotional crutch
The intuitive eater is awesome because now she can get back to living her life without fearing her body or fighting food.
What do you think? Was this helpful in identifying where you are? I noticed I was a different kind of eater at different points in my life. Most of us were intuitive eaters as toddlers because we had yet to be bombarded with messages about our bodies and were still connected to feeling hunger and fullness.