After several years of helping people recover from eating disorders and make peace with food, I have heard many misconceptions about intuitive eating.
I also remember myself being in recovery and wondering about things like “yeah, intuitive eating sounds good but what about health?” or “intuitive eating makes total sense and I hope it will also help me lose weight!”.
So in this post, I will list some common misconceptions about intuitive eating and will give you explanations of why it’s not actually what you may think.
Misconception #1 – Intuitive eating ignores health
A very common misconception about intuitive eating is that it is only about eating whatever you crave and it ignores any health or nutrition advice since “we are no longer restricting but eating whatever the heck we want!”
It is not so black and white.
In the book “Intuitive Eating” one of the last principles of intuitive eating is to “Honor your health – gentle nutrition”. Nutrition for health purposes is part of intuitive eating.
But it is the last principle because first you must overcome any diet mindset, make peace with food and your body, so you do not turn intuitive eating into another diet!
Intuitive eating is more about your mindset with food, not about food itself.
In one of my videos, I also talk about intuitive eating and what it means to “listen to your body as a whole”. In the video, I talk about how your brain (like using your basic nutritional knowledge and common sense about food) is also part of your body and therefore part of intuitive eating.
Misconception #2 – Intuitive eating is about “eating whatever you want”
While “eating whatever you want” can be one aspect of intuitive eating, it’s not all there is to it.
As we discussed in the last point – intuitive eating also includes using your nutritional knowledge and common sense about food.
For example, if you have celiac disease that prevents you from eating gluten then you can STILL practice intuitive eating and “eating whatever you want” because you do not want to have terrible side-effects from eating gluten, therefore, it’s not even what you truly want, right?
Also, if one is eating “whatever they want” (physically giving themselves permission to eat the food they want) but mentally they are still feeling guilty and shameful about the food they ate and mentally beat themselves up for “being bad” then this is NOT intuitive eating. Because mentally they are still on a diet, even when technically they are “eating whatever they want”.
Way more important than “eating whatever you want” is to also give yourself unconditional permission to eat. It means physical permission but also mental permission to eat and enjoy food without guilt, shame and diet mindset.
Misconception #3 – You should be able to eat intuitively from day one or it means something is wrong
Another big misconception about intuitive eating is that you should be able to do it from day one, otherwise you are doing something wrong.
If you come from a background of dieting or eating disorders then, yes, you can go back to intuitive eating, BUT almost 100% of the time it requires going through a phase of recovery.
And recovery means that your body needs time to heal from the past of restriction you have been through before it can settle back to normal. Some people experience extreme hunger, extreme cravings or digestion issues in recovery. Most people need to deal with the food and weight anxieties that come up as they let go of control and start to trust their bodies. Recovery is not a comfortable phase, but it will eventually lead to intuitive eating!
It’s important to know about the phase of recovery because this is likely why many people give up on intuitive eating because of the misconception that it should happen overnight.
If you want to know more about recovery and how to go through it step by step then I recommend you to read my book “BrainwashED: Diet-Induced Eating Disorders. How You Got Sucked In And How To Recover.”
Also, you can see my video about the common mistakes people make on their road to intuitive eating.
Misconception #4 – Intuitive eating will help you lose weight.
Another huge misconception about intuitive eating is that it has anything to do with weight, weight control, losing or gaining weight. Intuitive eating is not designed to keep your focus on your weight.
In fact, intuitive eating recommends people to stop focusing on weight so you can let go of the diet mindset as it is one of the primary things that holds you far away from ever going back to intuitive eating.
Some people can gain weight with intuitive eating, some people maintain their weight, some people will lose weight if their body chooses to. But you can’t predict what will happen to each individual by simply starting intuitive eating.
More so, I will say that you must let go of the weight focus to fully become an intuitive eater and to maintain it for life. I have also talked about this further in this video:
Misconception #5 – Intuitive eating “must be done as I say or you are doing it wrong!”
And the last misconception in this list is to do with the “black and white” thinking again.
After we have gone through diets, followed other people in terms of what to eat, how much and when…we often take this same approach to intuitive eating.
While it is certainly helpful to listen to other people who are eating intuitively, hear what they recommend and practice those things on yourself to see what works…then you can’t stay stuck there and think that it will lead you to YOUR intuitive eating freedom.
Intuitive eating is about listening to YOUR body, not someone else’s.
Intuitive eating is about getting back in tune with YOUR inner wisdom and intuition, not someone else’s.
Intuitive eating is not possible by following some strict guidelines and rules that say “what to do or not to do” – you must find your own way and what works for YOU!
See my video “Follow YOUR intuition, not someone else’s”:
I hope you found this post helpful in your journey towards intuitive eating!
If you want more one on one help and support then you can apply for my 12-week recovery coaching program to speed up your recovery, get daily support and accountability and step by step guidance. See more HERE.