The idea of intuitive eating is becoming more widely accepted, and more and more when I speak to people it is where they are aiming to be. The basic premise is to become in tune with your body so that you eat what it’s telling you it needs. Rather than eating with your intellect or eating what you ‘believe’ is healthy, you listen to your body. It is an idea that is at the heart of 180D, and it is the end goal where I want to get my clients.
But it’s not always so easy in the beginning. If you’ve spent your whole life never making much of a connection with what you’ve eaten and how you felt, or have always tried to eat less or have been battling and trying to silence your body in some form, just because you have now decided to intuitively eat doesn’t magically make it so. Your ability to interpret what your body is wanting is going to be rusty at best and completely wrong at worst.
From working with clients, I find that intuitive eating goes through a two-stage process. The first is just letting go and divorcing emotions and strong feelings with food. This can take lots of forms (for which Matt’s “Rest and Refeeding” is one of them) and for a lot of people it may lead to them eating loads of junk food or the foods that have been on their banned list for a long time. People can put on weight during this stage, but often they feel a lot better because they are getting in more calories and their anxiety around food disappears or at least is severely reduced.
I tend to be fairly moderate in my suggestions for getting someone through stage one and don’t find that people often need to go to extremes to repair their relationship with food. Sure, it helps some people to dine out on buffets and fast food for a time, and it is what they need to do to take those first steps towards food neutrality. But for most, just getting them to eat more calorie-dense foods, getting them eating more often, getting them to have more sleep, more downtime, and less intense exercise is enough to break through their food issues.
Once food has become just food again and there is little or no emotion attached to it, people can move into stage two. This is where they actually start to become more in tune with their body and listen to what it really needs. Emotions and intellect aren’t getting in the way and messing things up.
And for me, this is where things like the food log, body temperature and pulse, and looking at your various symptoms really helps. While these things can be analytical and seem at odds with the idea of intuitive eating, they can actually be the tools that allow intuitive eating to happen and for these tools to no longer be needed.
When explaining this to people I often use the example of a musician to illustrate my point. You watch someone play the piano or the guitar and they are just able to play. They are in total flow, not appearing to be concentrating at all, but still they are able to play this amazing music. This is like intuitive eating, and it’s the end goal.
But this is not where these people started out. They got to where they are because they learned the scales, they constantly practiced, tried out different techniques. All of these things led them to the point of being able to play without thinking, but they didn’t start out there.
But in most people’s case, they aren’t like some novice who has never played piano or the guitar before. They are someone who has been playing it for a long time but playing in the totally wrong way. Not only do they have to learn to play it correctly, they have to unlearn a lifetime of bad habits. Those automatic and unconscious patterns that they do without thinking need to be broken, and new habits need to be established.
Having tools like the food log, temperature and pulse, and other more structured ways of determining what is and isn’t working helps with this transition. When you get to a place where you can do this without requiring these tools, then you can leave them behind.
For so many people that I speak to, they have been successful at making it through stage one. They have divorced themselves from their food phobias, and eating a meal is no longer a guilt-filled experience. Often they have noticed improvements in lots of areas – their digestion is better, their periods are better, their sleep has improved, their moods are the antithesis of what they used to be.
But despite all of this, they feel a little stuck. Things have plateaued with their symptoms, and while they are happy with the improvements, there are still lots of issues hanging around that don’t seem to be getting better.
They also feel stuck on the diet front. While they are ok with eating anything, they aren’t really sure what the best foods are for them. They have better or worse days, but they can’t seem to work out why it’s happening. They think they are doing the right things generally with their eating, but they’re not really sure. They’ve been liberated from the pain of the dieting thinking that affected them for so long, but are now living in a no-mans land with a desire to know what the next step is.
A couple of times a year I offer people a free consultation to help with their health. This 40-50 minute chat allows us to go through what you are dealing or struggling with and for me to give you some specific advice for how to improve it.
We will look at the bigger picture and see what the overarching issues are that can be driving the situation. We’ll also look at the finer details, and I will offer you specific tips and suggestions for things to change or try out. No matter where you are on your journey to changing your diet or improving your health, we can look at ideas to help you get there.
If a free session sounds like something that would be useful to you simply click HERE, enter your details, and you’ll be sent an email with instructions on how to reserve your spot.These sessions are strictly on a first come, first serve basis, and are only offered for a limited time. It’s hugely time-consuming to do them, so I can’t keep it up forever; but I’d love to help anyone out who feels stuck free of charge. I’ve been a practitioner for a long time and have been in communication with Matt for almost 5 years now. We speak quite often, and I’m fully versed in the methodologies and tips he found to be particularly successful with the hundreds of clients he worked with over the last few years. Since he no longer has the time to work with clients one-on-one, and Dr. Garrett Smith is overbooked, he has entrusted me to help some of you out if needed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.