I've worked with hundreds of women, helping them become more intuitive eaters (read: listening to their body instead of diet rules), and there's always one step that people get tripped up on. In fact, they usually freak out when I ask them to do this:
Give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
Are you shivering at the idea? If so, let me explain. In order to truly become an intuitive eater, you need to unravel years and years of dieting. And that means unraveling years and years of restriction, deprivation, and lists of good-versus-bad food.
Intuitive eaters look at ice cream (or bagels, cookies, etc.) and don’t think much of it. It’s just ice cream. It doesn’t have some sort of power over them or the ability to cause a full-out binge. But if you’re a dieter, you know that ice cream does have power over you.
So to get to the point where these “binge foods” don’t have power over you, it’s absolutely necessary to go through a phase where you let yourself unconditionally eat whatever you want. That means all ice cream any day, any time.
If this step sounds scary, I’m assuming that these are your fears:
- What if I gain weight?
- What if I never stop eating ice cream (or whatever your binge foods are)?
- What if I just keep eating and eating?
- Will I gain 100 pounds?
And here’s what to do to get over these fears so you can really move forward:
1. Think about it logically.
If you were to eat ice cream three times a day, every day, do you honestly think you’d want it that often after a week? Chances are, no. So in those moments when you feel like you’re going to gain 100 pounds, just remember the logic behind this and keep pushing yourself to stay in the game.
2. Play out your worst-case scenario.
Ask yourself why it would be so awful to gain a few pounds during this phase. Is it worth gaining some weight if the result means total freedom around food and getting your life back? By talking through your fears it helps to lessen the intensity of them.
3. Know that this phase lasts for less time than you think.
All the people I’ve worked with have been shocked to see that when they fully surrender to this step, they actually get over their binge foods way faster than they ever thought. And by fast, I mean anywhere from a few days to two weeks, on average. So as long as you're willing to fully surrender, get ready for some quick changes.
4. Find a community.
Find a community of like-minded people who will help you through the days when you freak out and want to return to a diet. This is a great resource
for Intuitive Eating
and I also have a community that I run for this purpose. It takes a little bit of trust and it helps to know that other people took this first step as well and that it worked wonders on their relationship with food.
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