Dieting, lifestyle changes, meal plans, “eating clean,” detoxing, counting points, calories, or macros all have one thing in common: they provide external rules for you to follow. They take you away from making your own choices about what foods to eat when, from feeling and responding appropriately to your innate hunger and fullness cues, and usually from eating foods that you love. Eventually they can erode your trust in yourself around food.
Diets may work for a little while until they just don't anymore.
Despite these types of plans not working long term (80-95% of dieters regain the weight they lost within 2-5 years and 1/3 to 2/3 of those people gain even more weight than they started with)1 , many people are stuck in a cycle of seeking out diet after new diet, each one more restrictive than the last, as if it'll work this time around if you just try harder. Paradoxically, the more restrictive diet, the more out of control you eventually feel around food.
So now what? Giving up dieting without a clear plan can leave a void. After years or maybe decades of following someone else's rules about food, how are you even supposed to know how to eat anymore? You have all this so-called evidence that you can't trust yourself to eat what you want because you'll just keep eating forever. A mishmash of diet rules and self-judgment can cloud your thoughts. Food has become the enemy instead of a source of nourishment and pleasure.
It can feel really scary to step outside of diet rules and give up the control diets promise with food and your weight, but you can rebuild your relationship with food and experience the joy of eating again!
Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based behavioral model developed by the Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch that helps people get away from dieting and disordered eating patterns and develop a healthy relationship with food and body. To date, there are over 100 studies on intuitive eating showing many benefits, including
body appreciation and acceptance
more variety of foods eaten
lower rates of disordered eating and eating disorders
more satisfaction with life
Intuitive eating is a process of unlearning old thinking and rules about eating and then learning new, more helpful strategies for eating in a way that supports your physical and mental health. Although there are ten principles of intuitive eating, there are no rules! Intuitive eating puts you back in charge of what you eat when. You can learn more about intuitive eating from my post here.
Where can you start?
If you're ready to dive into learning more about intuitive eating, a good place to start is by reading the book Intuitive Eating 3rd edition by Tribole and Resch. Many people find they want more one-on-one support through the process, in which case working with a registered dietitian or therapist with training in intuitive eating counseling can be extremely helpful.
Are you ready to to leave dieting behind and work on developing a more peaceful relationship to food? I would love to help guide you! I offer virtual one-on-one intuitive eating counseling. You can learn more about how it works here.