Seven Confidence Boosting Tips to Help You Transition to Intuitive Eating
Congratulations, you’ve decided to ditch dieting! I remember being excited and a little scared when I first began my Intuitive Eating journey years ago. It was exciting to think about not being tied to a scale anymore, but also a little scary because I didn’t know what to expect. To lessen some of the anxiety often associated with taking this road less traveled, I wanted to share some tips that I wish someone would have given me when I first started my Intuitive Eating (a.k.a. anti-diet, no-diet) journey. While everyone’s journey looks different, what I’m sharing with you are things that have helped me and my clients transition through this with more ease, flow, and confidence.
1. Determine your ‘why’ — Be crystal clear about why you’re ditching dieting. In fact, it’s probably best to journal about them so you can refer to them when you are tempted (and you likely will be) to start restricting and/or dieting again. Of course, the reasons will vary, but the more common ones are weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting), obsession with the scale, constant preoccupation with food, negative body image, and low self-esteem. There are many others, but these are the ones I hear most often from my clients. Keeping your ‘why’ in mind will help to empower you on the days when you’re feeling challenged.
2. Clean ‘house’ — Remove all ‘diet’ foods and dieters tools (like low carb bars, fat free foods, scales, etc.) from your home. Dump (or donate) all the diet books, magazines, detox powders, food plans, etc. Also, unfollow blogs, unsubscribe to newsletters or anyone else on social media who promotes weight loss instead of achieving wellness through self-care. The less of these influences you have clogging up your newsfeed and inbox, the better! Note: This may take some time to complete as some of these emails aren’t on a regular delivery schedule.
3. Bow out — This won’t be easy, but as often as possible, choose to bow out of conversations about the latest and greatest diet, someone else’s ‘successful’ weight loss, exercise for weight loss, calories/fats/carbs and/or ‘point’ values, body dissatisfaction, comparisonitis, or anything else that is making you second guess your decision to practice Intuitive Eating.
4. Educate yourself — One of the best ways to empower yourself is to educate yourself! Read as much as you can about Intuitive Eating, body acceptance and Health At Every Size (HAES). In full transparency (even though there was overwhelming research that challenges the idea that you must be X number of pounds or have a BMI of X to be healthy), it’s counter-cultural and, at first, I wasn’t buying it! In fact, when I first started to read about Intuitive Eating, and later about HAES, I had to stop because I just couldn’t embrace it. When I was ready to immerse myself in my no-diet journey, I hired a coach to help me understand all the nuances of these philosophies and support me in my journey because I was so entrenched in “diet mentality” and was overwhelmed.
5. Acknowledge your humanness — One of the best gifts any of us can give ourselves, especially during times of transition, is to recognize our humanness. During this transition, you will feel like a failure, you’ll doubt your decisions, you’ll believe you’re doing it ‘wrong’, and you’ll be hard on yourself. This is all normal and expected. The antidote to reversing these feelings is to acknowledge and embrace your humanness by being self-compassionate and patient with yourself. As self-compassion expert, Dr. Kristen Neff says:
“ Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings — after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”
When we allow ourselves to be human and stop trying to be perfect, magical things can happen. This is not a one and done solution. Self-compassion must be continually practiced.
6. Stay in your own lane — Understand that choosing to practice Intuitive Eating is counter-cultural. So, if you choose to speak about your journey with others who aren’t open to it, you will very likely be met with opposition. Newbies and sometimes even more seasoned Intuitive Eating enthusiasts are often met with opposition. My recommendation to my clients and to the women I support daily in my online Facebook group The No-Diet Sisterhood is to listen to your intuition about the people you choose to talk to about your Intuitive Eating journey because sometimes people’s reactions and/or comments can be very disheartening. You won’t always get this right, but over time, you will more easily recognize who is open to this and who isn’t.
7. Get support — Follow Intuitive Eating bloggers, listen to podcasts, and read online articles and books about Intuitive Eating. Since we’re bombarded 24/7 with diet messages, this will reduce the feelings of isolation often experienced during this transition. Also, if you have the resources available, invest in yourself by hiring a professional who will support, guide, and help minimize the overwhelming feelings that many experience when first starting this journey. If coaching is not an option for you, consider enrolling in an online course. For some insider tips on what to expect when practicing Intuitive Eating, grab a copy of my free eBook “The Intuitive Eating Principles with a Twist”.
Intuitive Eating has changed my life and given me the freedom from food that I had always been searching for with dieting. Remembering that this is a journey that takes time, patience and lots of self-compassion will go a long way.