Are you a chronic dieter? Do you starve yourself before a big date, hoping to squeeze into those skinny jeans? Do you feel insecure or uncomfortable dating and socializing because of your body? Do you crave cookies, cakes, or cheeseburgers, and remonstrate yourself for such thoughts? Do you long to make peace with food and your body? If any of these scenarios apply to you, may we suggestIntuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works, by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.
Intuitive Eating is not a “diet” book, rather it’s a book written by two nutritionists who advocate strongly against dieting. “We’re born with all the internal wisdom we need to have about eating,” says Elyse Resch. “Babies scream when they’re hungry and stop eating when they’re full. My goal is to help people get back to that point of listening to their bodies.”
Resch and Tribole offer 10 principle’s of intuitive eating:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the 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. It’s not your fault.
According to Resch, 95 percent of dieters gain back the weight they lose and 40 percent of those people gain back even more weight than they lost. Think about it, would the diet industry be raking in billions of dollars if diets did work for long term weight loss and weight management? Not likely, because dieters would not become chronic if diet programs were successful for the long term.
2. Honor Your Hunger: Keep your body fed biologically with adequate energy and carbohydrates.
Resch advises us to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full. Sounds simple, but when we don’t eat when we’re hungry, our bodies trigger a primal drive to overeat.
3. Make Peace With Food: 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.
4. Challenge the Food Police: The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche and its loudspeaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments.
“I’m against anything that tells you want you can and cannot eat,” Resch says. “No one can be tuned into your body’s personal needs. I’m allergic to calamari, but nobody needs to tell me I can’t eat it. My body tells me. In the long run, rules set you up to be rebellious. That’s human nature.”
5. Feel Your Fullness: Listen for the body signals that tell you you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current fullness level is.
“Food doesn’t taste as good when you’re full,” Resch explains. “When you’re full, you’re not doing your body any good by continuing to eat. If you’re at a restaurant, stop eating and take the rest home with you. Don’t succumb to the urge to clean your plate after you reach fullness because what you’re really doing is using your body as a garbage can.”
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: 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, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content.
7. Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food: Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Food 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 you’re eating when you’re not hungry, ask yourself what you really need instead of food,” advises Resch. “Are you bored, angry, depressed? What emotions do you feel?”
8. Respect Your Body: Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect realistically to squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size.
“You can’t fool mother nature,” Resch says. “You can do destructive things to lose weight—use drugs or become anorexic—but it’s important to come to a place where we accept who we are and understand that people come in all shapes and sizes. When you compare yourself to an actress or model, remember most of those people were chosen because they are naturally thin. Many of those who aren’t naturally thin become obese after years of dieting.”
9. Exercise—Feel the Difference: forget militant exercise. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise.
10. Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition: Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. 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.
Intuitive Eating does not suggest we can eat whatever we want all the time and remain healthy—a cheeseburger at every meal does not do a body good. The book focuses on how human nature affects our eating habits, explaining how to eat well and stay healthy at the same time. For those women who desire to be thin because they feel pressure from thinner (perhaps younger) peers in the dating world, take Resch’s final words to heart: “A man who doesn’t accept a woman as she is in her healthy way of taking care of herself is not a man you want to be with because he’ll be critical of everything. Men like women who eat; women with some meat on their bones. Do you really want to marry someone who looks at you and wishes you looked differently?”
For more information, vist www.intuitiveeating.org
Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., Nutrition Therapist has been in private practice in Beverly Hill as a nutrition therapist for over 28 years, specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, intuitive eating, and preventative nutrition. She is a certified child and obesity expert and was the treatment team nutritionist on the Eating Disorder Unit at Beverly Hills Medical Center.