The Last Principle of Intuitive Eating: Gentle Nutrition
It’s what confuses people the most about intuitive eating. Understandably so.
The messages on the online world seem to say either intuitive eating is eating cake, cookies and pizza all day or the exact opposite message that promotes orthorexic behaviors as intuitive, normal and “just as tasty as the real stuff”. No wonder its so confusing!
Most of the information in the online world seems to have an all or nothing, black or white, extreme approach to health.
My hope and goal with what I share on Victoria Myers, on the Nourishing Women Podcast, and the work I do with my clients at Nourishing Minds Nutrition is to share the middle ground, the gray area, the way in which we can view health and nutrition as a component of intuitive eating and living, but also remember that its not the only reason why we eat and most definitely not the only way to take care of our bodies.
More on this in a second…
Did you know nutrition was a principle of intuitive eating? Its the last principle, principle 10, called honor your health with gentle nutrition.
“Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters- progress not perfection is what counts.” -Intuitive Eating Book
It is the last principle, for good reason. If we are too focused on nutrition when embracing intuitive eating, its hard to work through the other principles and stages. I find this to be most true when working with clients to work through the permission stage (what we call it at NMN), which is a process of abolishing all food rules and challenging all food fears (which can be, for a period of time, eating cake, cookies and pizza all day).
Intuitive eating invites us to think first and foremost of our cravings, honoring our hunger and fullness cues, and enjoying the satisfaction factor of eating. If we are too focused on nutrition, its hard to work through those principles. I personally believe this is why we get convinced zoodles and cauliflower gnocchi is as good as pasta and gnocchi made from potatoes. I’m not hating on vegetables, I freakin’ love them, but to say its taste the same is absurd :)
So if you are new to intuitive eating, I encourage you to put nutrition on the back burner, just for a little while. Remind yourself it is indeed a principle within the guidelines, but does not need to be the focus until you are ready for it! When you are ready to come back to nutrition, you’ll discover which foods you truly enjoy eating while also noticing which foods make you feel good and allow you to explore the nutrition and health of those foods.
If intuitive eating is feeling challenging to discover on your own, then remember you don’t have to go it alone! I’m an advocate for working one-on-one with a qualified professional through the stages of intuitive eating, because honestly it is super confusing, especially in the beginning. Determining what’s truly intuitive and what is not old food rules, diet culture talk, or disordered patterns is challenging. Intuitive eating seems fun and almost liassez faire, but the reality is it takes hard work and lots of self growth to get to a place where it can become that way!
One of the tools I use with my clients is teaching them to ask “mind vs body” Is this my mind telling me I want to eat this or I should eat this, or is it a body feeling? Intuitive reactions are that “gut feeling” or your body speaking, not your mind.
To my fellow dietitians, health coaches and health care providers teaching intuitive eating principles: sometimes we too have nutrition so ingrained into our brain that it’s hard to not teach nutrition to our clients. I remember in the beginning it took me time to realize how confusing I was being by discussing nutrition and eating all foods at the same time. Now in clinical practice, I’ve become much more confident in my abilities to walk clients through intuitive eating and knowing I can come back to nutrition and health when the time is right. Even with hormone and gut work, I rarely discuss nutrition until I feel the time is right. Wondering how do you know when the time is right? Its something we are discussing in this week’s masterclass! Enrollment is closed, but you can click the sign up button to attend the next class.
Lastly, I want to mention recognizing your audience and your way of serving when we think of the messages we are putting out into the online world.
Personally, my education and help on my blog, Instagram, podcast, e-book and even the work I do with clients is to serve those who are truly ready for all stages of intuitive eating. As a result, I feel comfortable sharing gentle nutrition within my education because it is authentic to who I feel I help best. My information is not ED focused, and if it were I would rarely ever discuss nutrition like traditional foods, or health and holistic practices. I have the utmost respect for those who that is their core audience and who they serve in their private practice.
But I bet there are also many out there like myself who do serve those that are ready for all the stages of intuitive eating, and I want to encourage you to not be fearful! I remember in the beginning I felt so scared to discuss nutrition and health because I didn’t want to confuse people and I didn’t want to be judged by the online ED community. I totally get it! Get confident in your messaging and it will shine though. The clients that come to us at NMN are 99.9% those that we can truly help, and I personally believe that being authentic to our message helps clients know what to expect when working together.
Discussing traditional foods and sustainability feels aligning to me because food culture and environment is thinking of the big picture of health and nutrition. Discussing holistic practices feels aligning to me because it reminds my people that food and exercise are not the only ways to take care of yourself (holistic means body, mind and spirit after all!). And discussing body positivity helps to remind us that we all deserve not only to respect and accept our bodies, but to love ourselves :) And of course all of this is done with a gentle, non-dogmatic approach, which is why we often say “wellness without obsession”.
Alright I think that’s it for today friends! Comment below, let me know your thoughts, and what you have more questions about!
Are you new to intuitive eating? Still not totally sure if you are convinced that intuitive eating is right for you? Click the link below to sign up to receive my free e-book on why diets don’t work. Rejecting diet mentality is the first step to embracing intuitive eating, let’s walk through it together!