Think you screwed up Intuitive Eating? Think again.
There are No Mistakes in Intuitive Eating
I hear this ALL the time: “I did really well until [social event, lonely night, stressful day at work, etc.] and then I ate a whole [pint of ice cream, bag of Doritos, pizza, etc.]. I blew it.”
I want to be really clear about this: You can’t mess up Intuitive Eating.
Thinking there is a right way to do this is diet mentality.
Beating yourself up for making mistakes is diet mentality.
Hoping for a quick fix is diet mentality.
Judging yourself as good or bad based on the way you eat is diet mentality.
Believing that there’s a way you should be eating is diet mentality.
Intuitive eating is about reconnecting with your internal wisdom about what your body needs and honoring your desires so you can feel peaceful around food. So, when you eat an entire pint (or gallon) of ice cream and your stomach hurts, instead of feeling that shame and regret of diet mentality, you can see it as a learning experience.
Why did I eat more ice cream than my body wanted? How was I feeling when this happened? Is there something I was trying to avoid feeling, or was I looking for some kind of comfort? Is there something else that would have been a more effective coping mechanism? Do I really believe I am allowed to have as much ice cream as I want? Is ice cream what I actually wanted? Is there something else I’d rather do next time I’m feeling that way?
The more connected you feel in your body and mind, the easier it will be to navigate these experiences with absolutely no guilt or shame. The aim is for neutral curiosity rather than judgement.
I went through a period of time when I was learning how to be an intuitive eater when I was eating huge bowls of ice cream every night, and frankly, it was uncomfortable. I felt a little bit out of control, a little bit guilty, and had that same concern I hear from so many of my clients: “Is this going to last forever?”
They key is to embrace all the experiences of this process with an open mind. It is possible to reframe your thoughts:
“Oh, God, this is awful. I’m eating too much!” can easily become “OK, this is happening. Wonder why? What can I learn from this?”
It’s important to keep the end goal in sight at all times: What we’re working toward is a normal, peaceful relationship with food and unconditional self respect. Those are the things that will allow you to really live your best life, free from the shackles of shame and doubt that have probably dominated your eating patterns until now.
However the process of becoming an Intuitive Eater looks for you is just fine.
Maybe it’s taking you an extra long time to trust the reliability of your ice cream supply, and that’s fine.
Maybe your body needs a lot of extra calories right now to make up for all the restriction you’ve done, and that’s fine.
Maybe you need a ton of rest right now as you’re healing, and that’s fine.
Maybe you need to bake a pan of brownies every single day until you get over that feeling of panic that makes you scarf them down, and that’s fine.
Maybe you need to take a break from exercising for a while until you can come back to it with a feeling of peace, and that’s fine.
Maybe you need to eat white bread slathered with butter at every meal until that food feels normal to you again, and that’s fine.
Take a deep breath, give yourself a hug, and cut yourself some slack. You’re doing just fine.