4 steps to making peace with food and learning how to intuitively eat

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A lot of people struggle with their relationships with food, particularly around the holidays or times of stress (hello, the whole year of 2020).

Food can be a psychological hurdle that can be lessened with intuitive eating. It isn’t a diet — intuitive eating is a self-care framework that integrates intention, emotions and rational thought into eating. It’s a practice that focuses on improving both physical and mental health and aims to eliminate any negative rules or beliefs you may have set up for yourself when it comes to eating.

Intuitive eating is all about fulfilling exactly what the body and mind wants and needs.

Mental health and body image advocate Victoria Garrick told In The Know that she used to have a terrible relationship with food. She spent years restricting her diet and feeling unsatisfied.

“We get all these rules from magazines, society and tabloids that tell us when to eat, what to eat and how to eat,” Garrick explained. “It really takes us away from our natural instinct on what’s going to make our bodies feel.”

Garrick added that she now eats whatever she wants, whenever she wants. If she’s craving a scoop of ice cream, she’ll treat herself to a scoop of ice cream. Restricting herself always lead to a binge later on and now she feels much more comfortable around food and moderating herself without any strict rules.

Garrick also broke down four tips to help you start exploring intuitive eating.

1. Decide you want a change

“The first thing that’s so important to do is decide that you want a change,” Garrick said. “Maybe your relationship with food right now is not the healthiest and you want to improve. So, really [understand] that you’re committed to change.”

Whether you’ve struggled in the past with Thanksgiving dinner and holiday parties or not, take a moment to emphasize to yourself that you’re truly at a turning point and ready to change.

2. Forget about diet culture

“Reject diet culture and all of the toxic content online that tells you you’re not good enough and you constantly have to be losing weight,” Garrick said. “Think about how many diets you’ve been on, how many times you’ve tried different eating patterns … and it’s just never worked. [It’s] made you feel bad about yourself. So, number two is just deciding ‘I’m done with that.'”

3. Seek out mentors and educational content

Intuitive eating can sometimes start with undoing years and years of coping with an unhealthy relationship with food and your body. It’s not going to happen overnight, but what helped Garrick was actively seeking out reading materials that scientifically backed up how important intuitive eating is it kept her moving forward.

“The two women who’ve championed the intuitive eating movement are Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,” Garrick said. “They have an incredible book called Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. I generally recommend you check that out.”

Tribole and Resche also have a list of resources here.

4. Be patient and kind with yourself

It may seem unnecessary to say, but it’s true. This process is hard and there is no benefit in beating yourself up about struggling.

“You’re trying your best,” Garrick said. “Perfect does not exist.”

If you found this story insightful, check out this TikTok psychologist’s tips for managing panic attacks.

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