Intuitive eating can be a scary concept for many people. If you have always believed you must follow a diet, the idea of simply eating what you want can be quite overwhelming. Diets are so appealing because of the structure they provide: if you follow the rules, you will have the results you want, whether those results are weight loss, or the cure to a health condition.
While avoiding foods for legitimate health reasons is absolutely advisable and important, for most people, restricting yourself from any foods is not ideal. Denying ourselves of something just makes it all the more appealing. This is what leads people to binge. If you have told yourself that you are not allowed to eat chocolate because of a diet, there will inevitably come a moment where you have chocolate in front of you. Because your mind believes the chocolate is forbidden, you’ll be much more inclined to eat far too much of it when you do eat it, because you’ve told yourself there is no other opportunity. This is what we call a scarcity mindset.
Intuitive eating allows us to live with an abundance mindset. When we are free of diets, no food is off limits. We know that we are allowed to eat whatever we want. So when we are faced with the chocolate again, we can have one piece. Maybe two. Maybe even five! But we are way less likely to overindulge, because we know that we can have chocolate every single day if we want. By eating with this abundance mindset, we naturally become more mindful of our hunger cues and cravings. Because we allow ourselves to have whatever we want, our minds are no longer fixated on eating the “forbidden fruit.”
Intuitive eating allows us to eat for both nutrition and for pleasure, because we know they are equally important. We notice how our body feels when we haven’t had enough vegetables, so we eat them–not because we are trying to “eat right,” but because our body is craving the nutrition, and we want to honor those cravings. Likewise, when we are craving ice cream, we can have ice cream, because we understand that craving is just as valid and acceptable as craving vegetables, and we can honor it, too.
Intuitive eating gives us the freedom to abandon the rigid rules of dieting and to trust our own body’s cues and cravings. Feeling comfort in that freedom can be a difficult journey, but it is one that is incredibly life-changing, and incredibly worthwhile.