VIP Q+A: How do I keep from turning intuitive eating into a diet?

“How do I keep from turning intuitive eating into just another diet? Another all-or-nothing, I'm doing it right or I'm doing it all wrong sort of "plan"? I have a hunch this has something to do with perfectionism ;-) but I am finding that even though I KNOW I should be gentle, self-compassionate and curious with myself, I'm not seeing the little steps of progress I'm making, I just see what I "should" be doing better.”

I’m here to answer another one of YOUR questions! Thank you so much for sending your questions in. You’re all THE best. Have a question you’d like me to answer? Send it to paige@paigeschmidt.com and let me know you have a question for a VIP Q+A post. Here we go…

Q: “How do I keep from turning intuitive eating into just another diet? Another all-or-nothing, I’m doing it right or I’m doing it all wrong sort of “plan”? I have a hunch this has something to do with perfectionism 😉 but I am finding that even though I KNOW I should be gentle, self-compassionate and curious with myself, I’m not seeing the little steps of progress I’m making, I just see what I “should” be doing better.”

A: What a great question!

What an important question too. 

My first thought is this… if you’re new to intuitive eating and you’re coming from having just done diets it’s expected that you might struggle to not treat intuitive eating like another diet. At least while you’re easing into it. 

Why?

Because you’re so used to dieting. That’s what you’ve known for X amount of time. You’re so used to trying to do everything perfectly and not break the rules. 

Want a breathe of fresh air? You do not have to get intuitive eating perfect. In fact, there’s plenty of room to make mistakes here. So, welcome to the land of non-perfection. It’s actually quite nice here! 

Here’s what I’ll say… 

  1. Give it time
  2. Have grace for yourself
  3. Identify what you’re making a rule
  4. Identify your end goal

TIME

When I say give it time, I mean just that… give it time. Allow yourself a ton of time to figure this out. Like… years! Intuitive eating is something that will become more and more natural over time.

This doesn’t mean it’s going to take you YEARS to make progress. No… you’re going to make a ton of progress within just a few months, however… it may take a couple of years for it to feel totally normal… and even then, like any good thing in life, you’ll want to continue to check in and see where your relationship with food needs nurturing and fine tuning.

If it feels wobbly for a while, that’s OK! At least you’re on the path of learning it. You’ll hit “ups and downs” along the way. This is normal too. 

Both the ups and the downs are necessary teachers for us. Instead of pushing away the “downs” and only looking forward to the ups, I want to encourage you to get curious about what the “downs” have to teach you. 

GRACE

This is where grace comes in. You have to have GRACE for yourself. Meaning, the expectation is that you won’t get this perfectly. You won’t listen to your body and your hunger cues and your fullness cues and your cravings perfectly. 

And even so, GO YOU for being on this path and being willing to learn and fall and get to know your body better so that ultimately, you and her can be in this together. You can be in a place where you’re so much more connected with yourself and on a continual growth path with her. 

RULES

Next, is to identify the rules that you’re holding onto. Write them down so you’re aware of them. See them for what they are: just rules; not truths. When you “fail” at intuitive eating, what are you failing at? When you “break a rule” what “rule” are you breaking? THOSE are there areas where you need to let yourself mess up more.

Pressure will not help you listen to your body.

Remember, you get to make choices  around what feels good for your body, one moment at a time. 

So, for example… If you eat pasta for breakfast (who says you can’t have pasta at breakfast?) and you know you’re also going to Italian for dinner, don’t stress over or pre-plan what you’ll order at dinner. Just trust that when you get there you will know what sounds good. 

Your body will surprise you time and time again – trust her.

If you eat a late lunch, don’t worry about how you’ll need to eat less at dinner. Rather, when dinner time appears check-in with yourself and ask what you’re in the mood for.

END GOAL

The last thing I’ll say here is to check-in on your end goal. Is your end goal (your reason for wanting to eat intuitively) encouraging you and helping you to connect with your body? Or is it pressuring you to get it all right? 

For example… If you’re eating intuitively because you’ve heard that intuitive eating helps people to lose weight… then you may feel the pressure to get it all right so that you can lose weight. 

On the other hand, if you’re learning to eat intuitively so that you can feel more connected with your body and do your best to listen to her more often, then you’ll be encouraged to just do your best and allow imperfect moments/choices along the way. 

Want a breathe of fresh air? You do not have to get intuitive eating perfect. In fact, there's plenty of room to make mistakes here. So, welcome to the land of non-perfection. It's actually quite nice here!

To recap…

  1. Give yourself time – there’s no time limit here if we’re leaving diets behind FOREVER
  2. Have loads of grace for yourself… meaning, you WON’T get this all perfect, and even so, appreciate yourself for BEING on this journey
  3. Identify what rules you’re still holding onto. Write them down. See them for what they are – just rules; not truths
  4. Decide on WHY you’re eating intuitively in the first place and WHY you’re leaving diets behind, anyway… Decide on something that goes deep so that when you want to give in and resort back to a diet, you have a reason NOT to

Want to know one of my whys? YOU. I want to continue to be a positive example of someone who can eat mostly intuitively, make “mistakes” with listening to her body, and still feel good.

I hope this post was helpful for you! Share your thoughts with me in the comments below and if you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in my next VIP Q+A please do so in the comments! 

Love to you all! 

Love, Paige
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