All foods fit

Intuitive Eating Troubleshooting: Why it’s Time to Put Nutrition and Health on the Backburner

Written by Ashley Seruya, BA

Intuitive eating can be challenging when coming from the diet world, and many of us are tempted to worry about “health” when we first start our journey… but is this helpful? Simply put, no.

Many of us who come to intuitive eating do so after either chronically dieting our whole lives, or struggling with an eating disorder. This means that when we finally decide to make peace with food, we are already at a disadvantage. We’ve likely been depriving ourselves and restricting, physically and mentally. We likely have a lot of nourishing to catch up on, physically and spiritually. We likely have a lot of rules around food and movement, and are terrified to give them up.

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Recipes for Eating Disorder Recovery, Barbecues!!

Written by Ashley Seruya, BA

When I (Ashley) first started my journey towards eating disorder recovery, I recall one simple phrase that I thought to myself over and over again: “What the hell do I eat now?”

Having followed various food rules for so long, I was at a point where my brain felt inundated with contradictory, confusing nutrition information. Not only that, but I was just dipping my toes into intuitive eating, a way of eating characterized by tapping into your inner hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating in a way that works to prevent bingeing and promote wellness; but how was I supposed to eat “intuitively” when starting at the fridge felt like walking into a battlefield? I knew I was supposed to be giving myself unconditional permission to eat all foods, a tenet of the intuitive eating model, but I still held onto so much fear around foods that had felt almost addictive during my eating disorder.

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The gentle diet

Is Intuitive Eating like a “Gentle Diet?”

The “Gentle Diet” 

Recently, a client told me that she looked up the words, “gentle” and “diet.” to learn about Intuitive Eating.  I love that description, because intuitive eating is a gentle approach to improving health as we become the expert over our bodies and its many sensations. This means saying “goodbye” to strict diets as they promote: negative self-judgments, shaming, and “should” around food intake and body size. We must welcome compassionate self-care by:  honoring hunger, registering fullness cues, moving our bodies in a way that feels good, and finding new ways to comfort ourselves without food.

When people come to me with weight or food issues, my philosophy is to help them gently make changes that feel sustainable. Some people come because they have made a decision to change their lives, and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Others are sent by a loved one who wants them to lose weight, and they may be resistant to change.

The Gentle Diet

Pain, Suffering and Eating Disorders from Diet Mentality

I reject the whole notion of the strict diet mentality because I have seen the suffering and pain that it can cause – being a slave to the scale, judging oneself as “good” or “bad” depending on what you have eaten, and ultimately, disordered eating. I encourage people to eat in a way that feels good for their bodies and their self-esteem.

My concept is that a person needs to get away from the notion that she is “good” or “bad” based on calories or “forbidden” foods, and that there should be no rules or guilt associated with eating. I am not aware of any sin inherent in eating a donut. Are we more virtuous if we deny ourselves the pleasure of chocolate cake, and instead choose a piece of fruit when our taste buds surely would have preferred the chocolate?

For more information on Intuitive Eating, “The Gentle Diet,” and to download my e-book, “Three Steps to Get off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good:” CLICK THE LINK BELOW

Free Guide: Get off the Diet Roller Coaster for Good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Three Things You Have To Let Go Of Once You Are An Intuitive Eater

Written by Ashley Seruya, BA

We live in a diet world, plain and simple. Our entire perception of health and fitness is molded by a diet mindset. Our views about nutrition, food, exercise, movement, and wellness are all colored by this paradigm that permeates every aspect of our lives. This diet culture that we live in takes us all hostage, and the result is a dysfunctional, if not completely disordered, relationship with food and our bodies.

Many of us come to a point where we know we need something else; something different. The constant yo-yo dieting, trips down eating disorder lane, and various obsessive tendencies eat at us until we are begging for a way out. The only way out, of course, is through. We have to dig through the muck and change our perspective; shift our paradigm. We have to leave the world of dieting behind and embrace a new way of being. Simply put, we have to walk forward into the world of intuitive eating and Health at Every Size. But this transition is anything but simple, and walking away from dieting means letting go of many perceived “truths;” truths that you’ve likely learned and held onto throughout the majority of your life.

food choices

So what do we actually have to leave behind when we walk into the world of food and body peace? What parts of our lives do we have to shed and mourn? Ahead, three diet-centric “truths” that get the boot once intuitive eating takes root:

1. Weight Loss:

Diets are sold off of the promise of weight loss. Some diets have gotten a little more clever, and claim that “health” is the goal… but health and weight are currently so conflated in our world that claiming your meal plan or way of eating will lead to greater health while promoting restriction, restraint, and rules about we can and cannot eat is really just a weight loss goal in disguise. The core of intuitive eating, by contrast, is blanket permission to enjoy all foods without guilt or self-judgment. In order to truly find satisfaction and not fear certain foods, or certain amounts of food, we have to let go of the hope of weight loss. If we truly tap into our hunger and fullness cues and don’t try to interfere or curb our cravings and appetite, our weight will naturally regulate itself to the place that feels most comfortable for our body. For some of us, that will mean losing weight. For others that may mean staying the same weight, or gaining weight. If we aren’t neutral about these outcomes and prepared for them, we can never truly embrace intuitive eating and body trust.

2. “Good” and “Bad” Foods:

We live in a world obsessed with “super foods” and ultimate nutrition. The thought of eating a doughnut pushes people into a sinful frenzy, and drinking a kale smoothie is akin to finding deliverance. It is so hammered into our heads that heated debates can erupt over the sheer idea that someone who eats steamed broccoli doesn’t have claim to superiority over someone who eats cupcakes. The fact that this statement would ruffle feathers at a cocktail party is truly laughable, because the reality is that no food on this planet is inherently better than another. Do some foods have different macronutrient qualities? Yes. Do some people feel both physically and mentally better when they focus on including certain food groups in their diet? Yes. But there is no morality attached to food, and until we accept that, we can’t give ourselves non-judgmental permission to eat all foods. Without non-judgmental permission, we can’t stop the shame spirals that lead to emotional eating and bingeing. The key to stopping these binges is stopping the guilt; to stop the guilt, we must stop attaching morals to our food. Food is just food, an apple is just an apple, a cheeseburger is just a cheeseburger, and all foods fit into a well-rounded life.

3. Shoulds: Diets have rules… rules about what time you should eat, what you should eat, how much of it you should eat, and many more. There are clear parameters so that you know when you’ve “failed” the diet, and you know what you “should” do in order to do it “right.” Intuitive eating on the other hand doesn’t really have any rules. There are guiding principles to help you along, but learning and integrating these principles takes time and personal experimentation. The only “right” way to do intuitive eating is to approach it from a place of exploration and discovery. There are no prescriptive ideas; no you “should” do this or that; no perfect set of rules to follow in order to do it perfectly. The beauty of intuitive eating is that every moment, whether it feels good or bad, is a learning experience, and a chance for you to undo all of the shoulds. There are no shoulds, but rather the opportunity to find your own truth in this mess.
You will likely discover many other diet “truths” that need to be let go of once and for all on your journey towards intuitive eating, food peace, and body trust. These are just a few of the most common, and I hope you find your own experience within them.

To begin your intuitive eating journey, or deepen your practice, join my 6-week Online Intuitive Eating Class which starts this Wednesday night. To sign up or get more information, Click below.

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anti diet

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eating disorder dietitian

Erica & Ashley’s Recovery Recipe Roundup: March Edition!

When I (Ashley) first started my journey towards eating disorder recovery, I recall one simple phrase that I thought to myself over and over again: “What the hell do I eat now?”

Having followed various food rules for so long, I was at a point where my brain felt inundated with contradictory, confusing nutrition information. Not only that, but I was just dipping my toes into intuitive eating, a way of eating characterized by tapping into your inner hunger, fullness, and satiety cues to guide eating in a way that works to prevent bingeing and promote wellness; but how was I supposed to eat “intuitively” when starting at the fridge felt like walking into a battlefield? I knew I was supposed to be giving myself unconditional permission to eat all foods, a tenet of the intuitive eating model, but I still held onto so much fear around foods that had felt almost addictive during my eating disorder.

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Why I Won’t Be Going Vegan… Like, Ever…Ashley Blogs

Though the Grapefruit Diet and the like may finally have been condemned, there are other pseudo diets that lurk in the mainstream, masquerading as the key to optimal health while continuing to promote restriction, fear of foods, and disordered eating. For many of us who have dealt with disordered eating or eating disorders, vegetarianism, veganism, a gluten free lifestyle, and so forth can be a gateway to a whole new dimension of restriction. So many of us have gone down this path, cutting out this and limiting that. We swear it’s for health reasons; that we just saw the latest research and bacon will surely kill us, and we are making our decision based on what is best for our bodies, not our waistlines. And maybe for some that kind of decision might work. Maybe for some that might be true. Maybe for some, cutting out meat or limiting dairy might actually make their digestive system run a little smoother and their energy a little higher. Maybe for some it truly isn’t a big deal, and the ethical nature of veganism is reason alone to make certain dietary choices. I am not one of these people.

For me, the moment I think about restricting a single food item, alarm bells go off. My brain starts going loop-de-loo, and all I want is everything. The moment in which I think hey, bread is evil, let’s not eat bread, for example… all I do is eat bread. It happens with every single food group, and it has ever since my binge eating disorder really took ahold after years of yo-yo restriction. You see, my brain has been trained. It believes that every time I even think about removing something from my diet, I am about to go down the path of deep and heavy restriction. Past experience has told it so. And so when those thoughts start mulling around, my body’s survival mode kicks into high gear, and it’s binge season up in here.
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