Friday, September 23, 2011

Intuitive Eating Principles and Health at Every Size

I thought it would be helpful to review the Intuitive Eating Principles and what my challenges are with each.

  1. Reject the diet mentality. This is really tough if you have ever been on a diet. There is usually some initial success and that can be addictive in its own right. At my job, they have Weight Watchers at Work. When I returned from maternity leave, it was extremely tempting to sign up; however, I feel that I have enough support to provide a reality check that DIETS DON'T WORK.
  2. Honor your hunger. If you have ever dieted or have had an eating disorder, this can be a toughie. Your hunger cues can actually be, well, messed up and there also can be different kinds of hunger. For me, there is bored hunger, the munchies, dessert hunger, tired hunger, and good ol' fashioned hungry.
  3. Make peace with food. Dieting tends to make food the enemy or the mistress. Food obtains a value, good/bad, healthy/junky, for example. As HAES notes, food should not be moral. I find this difficult with sweets in particular. I have a huge sweet tooth and it's my go-to comfort food so it has this "guilty pleasure" connotation. What a horrible phrase, "guilty pleasure". Just look at it. So, I should feel guilty that I am enjoying something?
  4. Challenge the food police. Whoops, I think I just answered this in my above rant.
  5. Respect your fullness. Mindfulness comes into play big time for me here. It is easy to mindlessly eat or comfort eat, and you may not even be hungry. I am trying really hard to assess my hunger level throughout the day and during meals.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor. To me, this goes back to taking the guilty away from pleasure. I'm no Puritan! I need to find the simple pleasure in eating and eating things I enjoy.
  7. Honor your feelings without using food. This one is a little tricky for me and may be a little contentious between IE and HAES. I tend to look towards somewhere in the middle. I think some comfort eating is okay but it shouldn't be your go-to coping mechanism because, otherwise, emotions and problems may be ignored and simply fester. You should be allowed to soothe yourself with a nice meal or snack if you want to and enjoy the comfort it provides.
  8. Respect your body. If you've had disordered eating, this can be tough because you may be unsure what your natural size is, or your natural size may be something different from what you want it to be. It may also take some time following intuitive eating to discover what your natural shape is.
  9. Exercise-feel the difference. Definitely a good thing. No matter your size or ability, try to find some joyful movement. It can be a challenge to turn workouts into fun versus punishment, compensation, or illness (i.e. exercise bulimia).
  10. Honor your health-gentle nutrition. This one is also a iffy to me. It has a good idea with saying that, basically, you shouldn't freak out if you think you haven't eaten "well", or your idea of well. But it has this tone of compensation I don't like (what you eat over time is what matters). I strongly disagree with this. I'd like to think of this, for me, as trying to eat what makes me feel good and honoring my body's signals of hungers and its cravings. My body knows what it needs and wants even if my disordered thinking tries to argue sometimes.

On a simpler level:
Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
(excerpted from

I am going to be shying away from some of the prescriptiveness of IE. HAES seems softer and gentler to me and is definitely more where I'm at right now but I think both can be useful in their own ways.

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