As I have been fully recovered from bulimia and orthorexia for about 4,5 years now there are a few things I have learned from practicing intuitive eating.
Some things that were KEY for normalizing my hunger cues and becoming more in tune with my body. As well as some mindset shifts that I experienced regards to food and our health.
Today I want to share with you 7 things I learned from practicing intuitive eating.
1. Understanding the difference between being “full” and “satisfied”.
You can try to fill yourself up with what you think is “healthy” or “the best foods” but if you don’t get satisfied with what you eat you will continue to struggle with food. If you want normal hunger cues you must not just eat for fullness but also for satisfaction!
Your cravings and a desire for particular foods are there for a reason and it’s your body’s intuitive messages guiding you towards what to eat. But we have ignored those cues for so long and therefore never seem to get truly content with foods. And it always leaves us craving more and more food even when physically stuffed.
So here it’s important to learn the difference between just being “full” or truly “satisfied”!
2. Trying to avoid or delay hunger is a waste of life!
In my eating disorder, I tried to delay my hunger or trick my body into thinking that it doesn’t need food even though I was constantly thinking about it. I was following my food rules and fears rather than my body’s intuitive guidance on when to eat. But this always backfired.
As I delayed my hunger, I also delayed my recovery.
So for me, it made a huge difference when I finally allowed myself to eat exactly when I was hungry. I started to be more aware of what my body wanted, versus what my food rules told me to do.
3. Food addiction and emotional eating don’t exist!
This is something I have talked about before… that it’s not actually the food addiction that makes you so obsessed with foods but it’s actually the restriction. The more you restrict the more “addicted” you feel!
And the same is with emotional eating. I used to think I was a typical emotional eater but once I stopped restricting and fully recovered I no longer feel emotional around foods!
So stop restriction and you will see how all the “food addiction” and “emotional eating” will magically disappear.
4. Hunger and cravings fluctuate and it’s normal!
This is something I learned far into my recovery. That our hunger cues are not the same every day. And also, that our cravings fluctuate and can come and go.
Normal eaters don’t eat the same amounts or the same way every day. Sometimes we eat more, sometimes less and it’s very natural. Our hunger and cravings can fluctuate due to hormonal reasons, seasons, activity levels or who knows why!
All you have to do is to trust it and follow it. Your body knows what it’s doing!
5. Intuitive eating is never perfect!
There is no such thing as perfect eating. Normal eating is not perfect. Perfectionism with eating goes hand in hand with the diet mindset. And because intuitive eating is not perfect, THAT’S why it’s normal!
Sometimes you can feel too full or feel too hungry. Sometimes you eat 3 times a day, sometimes 8 times a day. Sometimes you eat the most delicious meal, sometimes you eat something “blah” simply because you must eat something!
Overall your eating will be way more in balance when practicing intuitive eating. But it will never ever be perfect!
6. Food is more than just food.
Food represents more in our lives than just food. It can also be an important part of our social lives, celebrations, memories, and experiences. It connects people and for many of us, it is part of our culture.
Eating disorder and my obsession with “healthy eating” affected my social life very negatively. It made me feel isolated from people I loved and I felt like an important part of my experience as a human was limited.
Also, the stress food restriction created had a huge toll on my physical and mental health. But now that I’m flexible and free in my eating it has released so much stress and improved my health and overall quality of life!
7. Health is more than just food.
Thanks to our society’s obsession with “clean eating” we are overly focused on what we eat as the primary health market. Yes, having a healthy relationship with food is definitely important but there is a point where our “healthy eating” starts to make us rather unhealthy.
Our health is holistic and not just about food. Our health is physical, mental, emotional, social and even spiritual. All these different aspects of our health need to be considered and not looked at in isolation. If one aspect of your health suffers…you are not being healthy.
Eating a perfect-nutricious-vitamin-packed salad won’t make you healthy if you suffer from the constant stress of your healthy eating, food obsession and eating disorders.
It’s better to eat what you truly want and be a stress-free eater with normal hunger cues and a healthy relationship with food…than to be a health nut who sits alone eating their “perfect meal” and then goes on to stress about what she/he can or can’t eat next.
It’s about balance, not perfection.