Written by Ashley Seruya, BA
Intuitive eating can feel hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Experiment with new ways to make your progress more tangible to make the journey easier!
Dieting is alluring for so many reasons, but one of the ways it keeps us hanging on is its uncanny ability to clearly and concisely demonstrate “progress” and “failure.” You only have to step on the scale, punch in the number, get out the measuring tape, or count out the nuts to know you’re doing the diet “right.” Weight loss is the ultimate gold star, proving to you that all your efforts have paid off… and eventually, weight gain is the ultimate defeat, convincing you that you no longer are doing the diet right, and you just need to try harder.
This tangible quality of diets, whether you’re receiving positive or negative feedback, makes them so much easier than intuitive eating. When we start the process of leaving diets behind, making peace with food, and exploring body acceptance, we no longer get the concrete proof of our “success.” When progress is a paradigm shift, we miss out on the satisfaction that comes along with reaching tangible goals. This can make sticking by intuitive eating harder, because look, there’s nothing to show for my hard work! I get it. That’s why when I started intuitive eating, I made it a point to find some ways to make the intangible, tangible.
Ahead, my top three methods to sticking by intuitive eating and making your progress clear as day:
- Take photos: I used Instagram, but you can choose many apps (or even just your camera!) to take photos of your food. Now, some might argue that taking photos of your food would actually encourage disordered thoughts around food. For sure, there is a rabbit hole you can go down. But with this method, it’s all about intention. For me, I took photos of meals that made me feel satisfied, both physically and in regards to my cravings. One of the biggest hurdles in intuitive eating for me was figuring out the foods I actually enjoyed, and pulling myself out of the rut of diet mentality when it came to cooking. By building a portfolio of foods I knew I enjoyed and had satisfied me in the past, I not only encouraged myself to continue experimenting, but I also then had something to refer to when I inevitably would feel stuck at some point in the process. I also enjoyed the community aspect of Instagram, where there are many others in the #EDRecovery tag, and I would use the caption section to talk about how the food made me feel. All around, I found it helpful to look back on and review my progress over a period of time!
- Food and movement journal: So this is another one that can go so, so wrong, but when used in an appropriate way can be very beneficial! Instead of writing down what you ate or how much you exercised, write about how the activity or meal made you feel. This simple shift allows you to explore your new intuitive skills, and gives you space to think about your hunger, fullness, cravings, emotional drives etc. I also found that exploring my emotions around food, movement, and my body was helpful when I was just trying to figure a lot of things out in regards to my relationship with food and my body. That being said, sometimes just the act of writing things out related to food or movement can be triggering since it’s so tied into diet practices. I, for example, could never use the hunger and fullness scale with numbers attached, because it reminded me too much of calorie counting and tempted me to impose rules about when I was hungry “enough” to allow myself to eat. So tweak things to your liking! I also find non-traditional journaling practices to be a lot of fun, like doodling or scrapbooking, and have found they can also be a form of creative expression that allows you to see the physical manifestation of your progress, especially when you can look back at your work over time.
- Buy the The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch: When I was finding recovery and intuitive eating, this baby wasn’t out yet, and my god do I wish it was. It essentially makes the need for this blog post obsolete, because it gives you tons of exercises, journal prompts etc to help give yourself space to really work things out, and see it all come together. To be fair, this is a financial investment of sorts, while the other two I mentioned are completely free, so determine what you can afford and what method works best for you. That being said, $20 is likely a good investment in your own mental health and wellbeing!
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Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She and her team of eating disorder specialists and Anti-Diet Dietitians provide insurance-based care for eating disorders, disordered eating, chronic dieting, or other health conditions in a safe and non-judgmental space for healing.
We work virtually with our clients from our offices in Westchester County in New York as well as the tri-state areas of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with Florida, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Vermont. We are in-network with the following insurance companies: Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare; including Oxford, UMR, and The Empire Plan (NYSHIP).
We take the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, Erica will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!