6 Things You Give Up When You Choose Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating results in joy and freedom. But it would be too optimistic to say that this comes quickly and effortlessly, without any sadness or apprehension. It takes a lot of work to become an intuitive eater. The way we eat prior to becoming intuitive eaters stem many times from deeply rooted beliefs, emotions, and habits. When we dig up the roots there can be a lot of upheaval that can be painful and unsettling at first. But when we can address the roots and learn more appropriate ways of eating, we can move past our old habits, to a new, freeing life. The life of the intuitive eater has immensely more to offer than a life of chronic dieting.

In order to move forward with intuitive eating, we have to be willing to give up:

Ignoring Our Feelings

When we embrace intuitive eating, we make the decision to learn to separate physical and emotional hunger. As we become more intuitive in our eating, we’ll find that we decrease the frequency of emotional eating because we learn to recognize our feelings, name them, and allow them to be present without repressing them with distraction or avoidance.

While in theory feeling your feelings sounds like a great, positive practice (and it is) it does not come without discomfort. We have both positive and negative emotions in this life. Although negative emotions bring pain, the more we allow room for them in our bodies to experience them, the less impact they’ll have on us in the long run because we trust that they will wash over us like a wave. We know that no feeling is final.

Mindless Eating

In order to tune into your hunger, fullness, and experience with food, you have to say goodbye to completely mindless eating. We must recognize what we are eating, how much, how it tastes, and what it feels like in our bodies. For some of us, this will mean ceasing distracted eating in order to be able to pay closer attention to our meals. For others, it’ll simply mean bringing more consciousness to the eating times.

Body-Harming Coping Behaviors

For those that have used body-harming coping behaviors in order to deal with difficulties in life, this will be one of the most challenging aspects to say goodbye to as an intuitive eater. It’s hard to not beat yourself up for using these behaviors in the past because they can be difficult habits to break, but we must be gentle and understanding of ourselves as we shift our behaviors. It was adaptive to use the behaviors in the past — it was the best way you knew how to deal with the pain and chaos of life. Now you can learn new coping behaviors to replace those old ones, in order to take care of yourself today and looking forward. Sure, it’ll be difficult because they’re engrained habits and your brain is used to doing them, and it likes doing what it’s used to. But you can do it and it’ll be worth the effort!


Many of us that have tried to diet in the past or those who have struggled with an eating disorder also can tend to be perfectionistic. We want to be the best. We don’t want to fail. We like things a certain way. We’ll try to apply this perfectionism to intuitive eating too. At first we may find ourselves getting mad for eating when we aren’t actually hungry or when we catch ourselves acting out in our body-harming coping behaviors again… but intuitive eating isn’t another diet or rule to follow. It’s about loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves in a nurturing way so that we can feel our best in our bodies and live life to the fullest in all areas. As we practice intuitive eating, we become less perfectionistic with our eating and more accepting of our bodies.

The Illusion of Pure Health

We desire so deeply to be healthy. Some of us want it so badly that we end up making ourselves unhealthy, it’s kind of a catch-22. We stress out over every little thing we put in our bodies, for fear that we’ll ruin our health, all the while our stress is doing more damage on our bodies than the random food additive. As humans, there’s no way to be purely healthy. There is no fountain of youth. We will get sick. We won’t be perfectly healthy all the days of our lives. We will break. We will die. We all will, no matter how healthy we are in this life.

The Thin Ideal

In order to ditch the dieting and the body-harming coping behaviors, we also have to say adios to the thin ideal. The idea that a thin, petite feminine body is the end-all be-all. The optimal image of health and beauty. It’s unrealistic for most of us and is not the definition of health. It’s simply an illusion. We tie success to this ideal. Success in career, relationships, and in health all to the thin silhouette. Hate to break it to you, but even achieving the “perfect” physique doesn’t mean everything else in your life will be “perfect” too. When we fail to achieve this fantasy, we punish ourselves with our thoughts and behaviors. Toss the thin image off of the pedestal in your mind and start admiring your body for all that it does for you.

What have you had to say goodbye to in order to become a more intuitive eater? What are you afraid to give up in order to become a more intuitive eater? If you’d rather not share here publicly in the comments, feel free to shoot me an email, I’d love to hear: lauren (at) breatheandnourish (dot) com.

(Image from Unsplash.)

Originally published at www.breatheandnourish.com.