I wasted years of my life yo-yo dieting and trying every fad that I read about in a magazine or saw on Instagram.
I ate cabbage soup, drank special teas, tried the 5:2, the Atkins, and the South Beach Diet. You name it, I probably tried it.
As my weight went up and down, I grew to hate my body, and I was completely and utterly miserable. Forcing myself into restriction and over-exercise in an attempt to find the elusive ‘body beautiful’ led to nothing but heartache when yet another diet failed.
“It took a really long time for me to come to the realisation that diets don’t work, not in the long-run anyway.”
It took a really long time for me to come to the realisation that diets don’t work, not in the long-run anyway. Of course, we’ll all probably lose some weight if we cut out all carbs, alcohol, and sugar from our lives, but if you do that you also cut out most of the joy. And what’s the point of “being skinny” if we’re miserable?
When we lose weight through extreme and restrictive diets, we have to keep them up forever, or that weight will pile right back on as soon as we start eating normally again.
I know how soul destroying that feels.
So, after flailing around in a miserable sea of diets for my entire adult life, I finally found the key to freedom:
Intuitive Eating is the key to ditching dieting for good. It’s the key to being able to enjoy food without rules and restrictions. Intuitive Eating is the key to food freedom.
“Intuitive Eating is the key to ditching dieting for good. It’s the key to being able to enjoy food without rules and restrictions. Intuitive Eating is the key to food freedom.”
It’s actually quite a simple premise: listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, and allow yourself all food without restriction.
This helps us to get back in touch with our bodies and learn to listen to our hunger cues, recognising when we’re truly hungry or full.
Many of us eat mindlessly, despite not being hungry, more often than we realise. We emotionally eat for all sorts of reasons, including stress, sadness, tiredness, as well as happiness, excitement, celebration and nervousness.
The world around us also plays a huge role in how and what we eat: we’re told what we should or shouldn’t be eating based on the latest trends (or media darling), when we should eat, and how much is apparently an ‘appropriate portion’. There’s so much of this about, that we have completely lost touch with our own natural hunger cues.
“Many of us eat mindlessly, despite not being hungry, more often than we realise… we have completely lost touch with our own natural hunger cues.”
Getting back in touch with our bodies helps us cut through the noise without being overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of messages we face on a day-to-day basis.
In a nutshell, Intuitive Eating teaches us how to eat ‘normally’ again. It teaches us to eat in the way we did before guilt and diet culture crept into our lives, and made us feel confused and cross with ourselves for feeling one of the most natural human urges: hunger.
The idea is that by allowing your body to eat what it naturally craves, you’ll automatically find yourself filling your diet with an abundance of delicious, nutritious foods. I hear a lot of people saying that if they got rid of diet rules and allowed themselves to eat what they wanted, they’d disappear into a hole of doughnuts, never to be seen again.
People worry that without the rigidity of a diet, they cant be trusted around food and that they’d eat unhealthy food all day, every day.
This simply isn’t true!
With Intuitive Eating, no food is off limits. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, and you’re allowed to actually listen to your body without that constant mean girl in your head.
“There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, and you’re allowed to actually listen to your body without that constant mean girl in your head.”
This means that sometimes you’ll crave chocolate and pizza, but more often than not, you’ll crave fresh delicious food that makes you feel good in the long-run. You are allowed it all. You’ll crave it, you’ll eat it, and your body will thank you. You’ll be eating normally again, and you won’t believe how good it will make you feel.
“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good… Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.” – Ellyn Satter
“Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.”
In a world of clean eating, restrictive diets, cycles of bingeing and excessive exercise, normal sounds pretty bloody good to me.
Learning to eat intuitively changed my life, my whole outlook on food, and the way I view my body. Not to sound overdramatic, but it’s really true! I now work with women from all over the world to help them ditch the diet mentality and change the way they feel about food and about their bodies, because I want them to feel this good too.
Header image: thebigyogi.com
Margie Broadhead is a professional chef, cookery writer, coach and podcaster (www.madebymargie.co.uk)