First thing’s first. Let’s get one thing straight, you CANNOT fail at being an Intuitive Eater. But with that being said, people tell me all the time “well I tried Intuitive Eating before, I ate whatever I wanted and I just gained so much weight and became out of control.”
So if that’s you, where you think you’re headed or EXACTLY why you’re afraid to try Intuitive Eating, this article is for you.
So let’s get technical here, the phase (keyword here, phase) in which most people feel like they “fail”, they get “stuck” here, is called the pleasure-seeking phase. It is the very first phase of true Intuitive Eating.
The way that this program WORKS is through habituation. Habituation is a term used for when, over time, there is a decreased response to a stimulus. Let me give you some everyday examples. Say you buy a new car, the first couple weeks of driving that car around you feel like A BOSS, you’re on cloud 9, like “damn, I feel so awesome driving around my new car!” Right?! But over time, 6 months down the line...you’re just getting in the car to go to work, the response to the stimulus of getting into the car and driving it no longer creates the same response it once did. Decreased response to a stimulus over time. Another example I love using is putting clothes on your body. When you first put on clothes in the morning you can feel the clothes on your skin, say you put a sweater on and your body and brain is receiving the stimulus that there is something touching your skin and your brain says “Hey, I have a sweater on! I can feel it on my skin!” But can you imagine how annoying it would be if habituation wasn’t a thing?! All day you would be thinking “Hey I have a sweater on! I can feel it on my skin! Hey, I have a sweater on! I can feel it on my skin! Hey, I have a sweater on! I can feel it on my skin!” But because habituation is a real thing that you do ALL THE TIME, thank goodness we don’t think about that all day. PHEW!
When it comes to Intuitive Eating, our goal is to habituate to all food. We want the response to the stimulus to be relatively same across the board. Salad, cake, roasted brussels sprouts, Doritos, donuts, habituation helps us put all foods on a level playing field. (No this does not mean that eating food is going to be boring, in fact finding pleasure and enjoyment in food is a HUGE part of intuitive eating and is not only allowed but encouraged! yay!)
So why do some people get stuck in this “pleasure seeking” phase? They aren’t habituating to the food. So why aren’t they habituating? LET ME TELL YOU SISTER!
There are a number of different “blocks” to habituation. But let me give you another analogy. Cuz gosh darn it - I just love analogies! Remember that sweater that we put on earlier? Imagine that sweater was lined in thorns. Yup, a thorn lined sweater, sounds pretty sadistic huh? Think about how you would feel wearing a thorn lined sweater all day...not great probably. You DEFINITELY would have a hard time habituating to it because you are constantly getting painful stimuli from the thorns!
Those thorns... those painful stimuli? Yup...it’s fear. Fear is one of the biggest blocks to habituation in Intuitive Eating. You will have a hard time habituating...wait let me take that back, you will NOT fully habituate until you have dug through the underlying fears you have about food and your body. Now, let me also be clear, simply starting this process of digging into the fears is going to allow you to habituate, you don’t have to solve all of your fears to be able to habituate, just start the process! Here let’s do it right now...
I’ll just cut right to the chase. The #1 fear with Intuitive Eating? Weight gain.
If you’re afraid to gain weight, welcome to the club. You are certainly not alone, but I also want to let you know that your fear isn’t really about the actual lbs at all. If you’ve recognized that yup, you are TERRIFIED to gain weight (this was totally me by the way, I used to actually tell people that my biggest fear was gaining weight, and it was. But not anymore, so let’s walk you through this.)
If this is you, and you’re thinking, well how am I supposed to drop that fear?! Let me show you. I have a few simple (haha jk they’re not really simple, nothing in this process is simple but I’m going to break it down for you) questions to help you get there. Take a deep breath in and out, because I dig deep quickly here...you ready?
What do you believe it would mean about YOU if you were to gain weight?
Typically when I ask this question there are two main answers that I get: People will think I’m lazy, and people will say “wow she’s really let herself go.”
Take another deep breath in and out. Chances are you’ve either heard someone say this about someone else, you’ve heard someone say this about you, you’ve thought this about someone else or yourself or any combination of the above. Welcome to our body-obsessed society. You are not alone, and you are not broken. K? K, great. Remember this: you. are. not. broken.
Let’s dive into these thoughts. Here’s my follow up question: “Is it true?!”
Is it true that you’re lazy? One time I had a client walk through her typical day with me, and as a working mom with two kids and opposite schedules with her partner, we just stopped for a second and kind of chuckled because it was the exact OPPOSITE of lazy. Her life will never be lazy. Your life is likely not lazy either. And if you’re on the other end of the screen here saying “well I should be doing more of this, and I could be doing more of this…” I get you, I feel you, but let’s focus on one step at a time, and let’s not “should” all over ourselves, it keeps you stuck.
So, thought number 1: “I’m lazy” the verdict?! INCORRECT.
Second thought: people will think “wow, she’s really let herself go”. I can definitely say that this was a major fear of my own, I would even look at pictures of myself at first and think this to myself. What we have to get clear on here is that this statement is judging someone’s internal value and state of health through external images. Read that again and let that soak in. When you say someone has “let themselves go” that implies that they don’t care anymore and that they aren’t taking care of themselves anymore. BUT HOW CAN ANYONE KNOW THAT UNTIL THEY TALK TO THEM AND KNOW THEM ON A DEEP LEVEL? Sorry got a little riled up there.
We cannot even begin to know how someone is going mentally and emotionally (or physically for that matter) by looking at their external features.
Here’s where people get caught up… “well I don’t WANT people to think those things about me.” Listen, I get it. But let me get real with you for a moment. People will always judge other people, people will continue to judge you, they already have been, we will never be able to change that. What we CAN do, is get so FREAKING CLEAR on EXACTLY who you are so that when someone judges you, you give zero F’s. Literally. Zero. F’s. Well, actually let’s be human here for a second because we will always care what people think at least a little bit. But again...once you start living your life through your power and your strengths and your gifts, people will notice, people will be like “damn, she’s really crushing life lately”.
You can start this process now. This process of getting to know yourself. If you want to learn my favorite ways to do that, go read this article and get started.
But real quick let’s get back to what we started talking about in the first place. “Failing” at Intuitive Eating. Bottom line: it’s your fear and these stories you are telling yourself. Fear is preventing you from habituating and you’re a little stuck in the pleasure-seeking phase because of it, AND THAT’S OKAY!
There are some other blocks to habituation that I want you to be aware of as well:
So no matter where you are on your journey, or if you have tried before, or maybe multiple times and continue to go back to dieting because Intuitive Eating is just too uncomfortable. I get it. I HEAR YOU. But you are already an intuitive eater at your core, she’s in there! We just have to peel back the layers!
I’ve created an online course that really helps people with these struggles (because I was hearing it so often and just KNEW that there was a need for this!). The Food Freedom Foundations course walks you through EXACTLY how to build a solid foundation for intuitive eating. It’s for people who have tried and feel like they have “failed” or for those of you who are afraid to get started because you don’t want to get stuck in this pleasure-seeking phase, we talked about here. THIS PROGRAM IS FOR YOU! I promise you-you're going to love it and feel about one bazillion times more confident after completing the course!
All the love,