Have you heard of Intuitive Eating…but aren’t quite sure how to get started? I have six Intuitive Eating tips for you to kick start your journey towards body acceptance and food freedom. I can’t wait for you to lose the burden of a diet mentality.
As an Intuitive Eating registered dietitian, I help my clients along their journeys with Intuitive Eating. And while each journey is unique, there are some common threads of advice that apply to most, starting with an abundance of patience.
Psst: if you’re new to Intuitive Eating, check out my overview blog post: What is Intuitive Eating?
give yourself patience
Learning to trust your body, your hunger and to build a positive relationship with food and eating takes practice. As much as we all want changes to happen immediately, new skills take time to build confidence. I know, I am the same way about wanting things to happen faster, too.
But think about it: how long has it been that you’ve been trying diet after diet?
It is going to take a little while to learn new skills and new thought processes around food, eating and your body. As you are trying and learning new skills, give yourself the same patience you’d offer your closest friend. We tend to hold ourselves to higher – and unrealistic – standards and then beat ourselves up when we miss the mark. This attitude will stall your progress!
In the meantime, if you tend to have negative things to say to yourself about your eating choices, here are a few tips to pump the brakes on that: how to stop beating yourself up over what you eat.
A better use of that mental space might be to practice redirecting conversations that aren’t making you feel good, in advance.
practice tricky conversations in advance
It’s not surprising if NO ONE in your circle is following Intuitive Eating just yet: diet culture is everywhere!! Nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than a snarky comment from a co-worker or family member who doesn’t get it. Ugh.
“Wow! You look different. You must be enjoying your home-baked desserts and take out.”
Instead of questioning yourself when comments like this get made, be ready to affirm your choice to feel free around food:
“Hey mom: I’m not interested in talking about my body like that. Let’s change the subject. What are your plans for the weekend?”
Practice helps us to feel more confident. Boosted confidence lets us have those conversations more smoothly when they take place in real life.
More tips here: how to set boundaries around diet talk.
welcome curiosity over judgment
We are so good at judging ourselves. Our bodies. Our snacks. Our cravings. And most of us have had a *lot* of practice judging our food choices.
“You’re turning into your own mother with this out of control snacking”
And it sure does feel crummy.
You know what? Approaching eating with judgments sucks out all joy and builds a negative relationship with our body and eating.
Instead, one Intuitive Eating tip is to welcome curiosity. Curiosity allows us to fully immerse ourselves in new experiences, without having an expectation of how they’ll turn out. This is a good thing!
“I wonder what my body is trying to tell me when I crave salty snacks in the afternoon?”
See how much kinder that is to your body? This kindness also offers the opportunity to problem solve and find solutions that feel good instead of continuing to feel like you don’t deserve self-care or comfort. (You totally deserve self-care and comfort!)
know that new seasons bring new challenges
My next Intuitive Eating tip is to consider that the skills that work well in one season or location might need to be adapted as you encounter new situations.
For example, you might have a routine that feels really good in your day-to-day life of going to work and spending time with friends and chilling at home. But what about vacation? It might be a bit trickier to listen to your body’s cues when there are the distractions of so many new sights to see and foods to taste, not to mention meshing your schedule and preferences with any other travelers.
Offer yourself kindness and flexibility as you learn to navigate Intuitive Eating in different ways. For example, packing the clothes that make you feel good and comfortable (one of my tips in my blog How to Love Your Body this Swimsuit Season).
For a bit more info and tips about Intuitive Eating, check out my blog post about How to Not Let a Diet Ruin your Vacation.
treat your body with kindness
This may be new: treating your body with kindness. Especially if you grew up in a household that valued dieting and thinness. But one of the ten principles of Intuitive Eating is to respect your body. This may be something that you need to practice as you get started on your Intuitive Eating journey, and that is ok.
It is important to try anyway because without kindness to your body it is going to be difficult to have a constructive relationship with your body and eating. If you are judging your normal reactions (like hunger) or stuffing yourself into clothing that doesn’t fit or feel good, you are going to continue harming your relationship with yourself.
One of the intuitive eating tips to treat your body more kindly is to offer yourself genuine compliments about how your body has served you or what has impressed you.
“I honor that my body is my home.”
“My body is not my business card.”
“I am proud that my body is flexible and allows me to practice gentle yoga.”
And if something in those lines isn’t resonating with you, try a general mantra, such as:
“I release all judgment of my body.”
“My actions determine my worth.”
Treating your body with respect and kindness doesn’t mean that you have to *like* your body every single day. Kind of like you might love your sister, but some days you don’t like her all that much (give me back my dang sweater!). But no matter how you’re feeling on a given day, work towards a constructive relationship with your body.
normalize diverse bodies
My final intuitive eating tip for beginners is to normalize diverse bodies and to find role models whose bodies look like yours.
Start with your social media feeds: unfollow anyone who doesn’t make you feel good when you consume their content. Follow people and places who inspire you and boost your mood.
Next, stock your bookshelf or tablet with books and memoirs by people living in diverse bodies. My resources page has a few of my favorites. If you have a favorite that you’d recommend, please comment below!
And lastly: join groups and communities that are supportive of you and your Intuitive Eating journey – I’ll invite you to join my group coaching program in just a moment!
key takeaways: Intuitive Eating tips
Intuitive Eating is a journey with no specific space that you have to start. You get to start with the principle that speaks to you the most and build from there. And the more that you can honor your journey with kindness and curiosity, the more fun and healing this journey can be.
This post includes a few of the many skills I offer through my No Guilt Framework. Each individual will find different skills helpful at different times, and this post is by no means an exhaustive list of how to stop dieting.I offer group and private coaching programs that help you create a plan and practice these skills with the focus and consistency you need to FINALLY be okay with your body. Apply for coaching and I’ll meet with you to describe how you can go from feeling completely stuck in negative body image to feeling free and peaceful around food, just like my clients do.