Intuitive Eating

I’ve struggled with the ethical impact of my diet for years. In my heart I really want to be vegan. I don’t like the idea of anything suffering so I can fill my belly. But due to health issues my body really needs a paleo type diet. After a few weeks trying to follow a mostly raw vegan diet I’m not feeling so great. After the birth of my daughter I’ve struggled with high blood sugar. So, that is a major concern for me. As a nursing Mom,a raw food diet leaves me very hungry and low energy.

Someone asked Eckhart Tolle about eating in connection with their spiritual journey. His answer was very much in keeping with the intuitive eating approach. I read a book on intuitive eating a few years ago. Listening to my body is a vital part of my spiritual journey and essential, I believe, in cultivating self love. So, I’ve decided to incorporate intuitive eating into my life.

“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening’.

The underlying premise of Intuitive Eating is that you will learn to respond to your inner body cues, because you were born with all the wisdom you need for eating intuitively. On the surface, this may sound simplistic, but it is rather complex.  This inner wisdom is often clouded by years of dieting and food myths that abound in the culture.  For example, “Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full” may sound like basic common sense, but when you have a history of chronic dieting or of following rigid “healthy” rules about eating, it can be quite difficult. To be able to ultimately return to your inborn Intuitive Eater, a number of things need to be in place—most importantly, the ability to trust yourself!  Here is a summary of the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating, from our book, Intuitive Eating, 2nd ed, 2003. With these principles, comes a world of satisfying eating and a sense of freedom that can be exhilarating!

Intuitive Eating Principles

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
  2. Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
  3. Make Peace with Food. Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
  4. Challenge the Food Police. Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating under 1000 calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
  5. Respect Your Fullness. Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.
  7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
  8. Respect Your Body. Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
  9. Exercise–Feel the Difference. Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.
  10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition. Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet 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.”

– From

Intuitive eating represents a deep commitment to self trust which is the ultimate form of self love. For me this philosophy is a crucial part of letting go and listening to my inner voice. When I try to exact control in my life through my physical appearance, weight and diet it just doesn’t work. So, letting go and listening to my body is a very scary thing, a huge leap of faith, but ultimately an opportunity to learn to listen to my Higher Self.

I also need to listen to my inner voice and take a conscious approach to the animal products I choose to consume. If I’m not true to my feelings about the environmental impact of my food choices and my need to minimize animal suffering I would not be true to my heart. So making conscious food choices are important to me too.

I know that I need some kind of food plan to follow that gives me some perimeters for meal planning and shopping, although my body’s needs will always come first. When I thought about all these factors it was clear that my body is not doing well on a vegan diet. I felt a little overwhelmed at the idea of coming up with daily meal plans and recipes.

One approach worth considering is Dr. Mark Hyman’s new book called Eat Fat Get Thin, in this book he talks about his new approach to eating – the Pegan diet. For people, like me, with health challenges that prevent them from a full vegan diet, this is a good alternative. Although it’s scary for me not to follow a regimented plan I know that I need to take a leap of faith and make intuitive eating my primary focus. So Dr. Hyman’s plan is more a rough guideline for me now.

Before shifting to a more spiritual approach I would have forced myself to follow a plan as strictly as I could and then inevitably felt horrible when I failed at it. Now, I will work at listening to my body’s cues and my body’s needs will always come first. It’s nice to have some recipes available though. The smoothies I make without a recipe have not always been a success.

The concept that vegan or raw food diet as a spiritual choice turned out to be wrong for me. I can’t look to external direction on how to live my life or walk my own path. To find happiness and self love the answers can only ever come from within.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s