Q: “How do you know you’re ready to begin eating intuitively? Do you need to be committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle (no giant imminent stressors, etc.) or do you encourage others to start at any time? Seems like the initial detox would require a fair amount of commitment.”
A: You all always ask such great questions!
The first part of the question I want to address is the “initial detox” part. I’m not quite sure what this reader is referring to…
There is no “initial detox” of intuitive eating. Unless you’re talking about the detox from diets and diet rules!
I am going to go out on a limb here and say there is no perfect time to start eating intuitively.
The perfect time for you, might be the worst time for someone else. Your perfect time is specific to you, where you are at, and what your needs are.
For example, the right time for me to start eating intuitively, was when I naturally wanted to let go of dieting through beginning to find my identity in God rather than in the size of my body.
That said, when I began eating intuitively I absolutely was not in a place where I was completely comfortable finding my identity in something other than my body. It was just the start of that journey, and intuitive eating seemed to go hand-in-hand with that, so I decided to give it a shot.
The example this reader gave in terms of it perhaps NOT being the right time to begin eating intuitively was “if you had giant stressors in your life.”
The way that I will address this next part comes from personal experience.
The most gigantic stressor I have ever had in my life, was my mom getting sick with cancer.
Let’s say I had been dieting all the way up until that point… would intuitive eating have been a good thing for me to start as I was going through that with my mom? Or, was it too big of a stressor that it wouldn’t have been a good time for me to start?
It absolutely would have been the best possible thing for me in that time, because dieting would have distracted me from so much of the precious time I got to spend with her.
So even though I had a huge stressor in my life, my answer would be, that it would still have been a great time for me to start eating intuitively.
Since it is often true that the way we do one thing is the way that we do everything, when we begin connecting to and listening to our bodies, we begin connecting and listening to every other area of our lives.
We begin to notice where we need to put up boundaries and where we need to create space in our lives (whether it be physical or mental). We begin to notice where in our lives we’re not being mindful and where we would like to be more mindful.
The way I see it is that overall, dieting IS a huge stressor.
So if you are going through something stressful, one of the best things you could do for yourself would be to crowd out the stress of dieting.
I can definitely see where someone might think that they have to have everything together or their life needs to be calm in order to embark on a journey as a new as intuitive eating is for many of you.
However, intuitive eating is the absolute most natural thing that you can do for your body.
It is not something that requires you to put all of your focus and attention ON food, rather, typically it allows you to take a lot of your focus OFF of food (and onto your life).
THAT SAID… if you are going through something stressful and what you have always used to deal with stressful times is food and dieting to gain a sense of control in your life, it may be a challenge for you to let go of control during that time. (It likely will be.)
AND… this is also true: Change happens in the presence of current emotions.
So, in essence, there is no better time to begin your journey of feeling your feelings and realizing that you can get through them, without food, than when you are going through something stressful.
It might be hard (like I said, it likely will be) but it will absolutely be worth it and you will gain more permanent results because you are making deep change, in the presence of what is hard (current emotion: aka, not fixing something FIRST).
Does that make sense to you all?
The only thing that you need to be committed to in terms of starting your journey toward intuitive eating, is that:
- you’re pretty darn sure (no one usually feels 100% sure at this stage) you’re going to leave diets behind forever and
- you are willing to embark on a journey of continually tuning OUT the diet noise, and continually tuning IN to what does/doesn’t feel good for your body.
You are willing to embark on a journey of becoming your own body’s best friend, and leaving behind all other behaviors that lead you to repeated self sabotage and feeling badly about yourself.
This conversation is absolutely open for discussion and you are more than welcome to leave a question in the comments. Also, if you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in my next VIP Q+A please do so in the comments!