dieting vs intuitive eating

Imogen + Daphne

Imagine two women: Imogen and Daphne. They have both been invited to a luxurious company cocktail party filled with rich appetizers, decadent desserts and playful drinks. Both look forward to this party every year, but each woman has a different experience once she gets there.

Imogen enjoys the foods + drinks that bring her joy in moderation, truly savoring each one. She enjoys an amazing dessert, aware that she can have more, but decides not to since she knows her stomach will hurt afterwards. She celebrates life + the pleasure of the night to the fullest, and goes home with a smile on her face, feeling satisfied, full and refreshed.

Daphne spends most of her time thinking about what ingredients are in each appetizer, tries to steer clear of the desserts and feels guilty after ordering a drink, only to send herself in a spiral of overindulgence of food + drink. She isn’t able to be fully present and is too preoccupied with what she is or isn’t eating or drinking, lost in an inward battle with herself. She goes home feeling sad, ashamed, guilty and vows to herself that she will do better tomorrow.

Do either of these ladies’ experiences resonate with you?

If so, you are not alone.

We all want the experience of Imogen at the cocktail party, but all too often find ourselves reacting like Daphne. What is the difference between these two women?
It is all in the way they approach food + view their bodies. Imogen is an intuitive eater and eats food to love her body, while Daphne is stuck in the ups and downs of the dieting trap. She tends to punish her body with the restriction // abstinence of food.

dieting vs intuitive eating

Diets are built on a pattern of restriction, guilt and shame. They cause dieters to create their own inner Santa Claus – putting foods on an ever-evolving “naughty” or “nice” list and checking it twice before they grocery shop or eat. Diets rely on dieters weighing themselves often, ignoring their bodies’ biological cues and, most notably, failing [the #1 reason the diet industry is SO lucrative!]. As shown with our example of sweet Daphne above, dieters do not have peace around food and are stuck in a constant cycle of indulgence + restriction, which can lead to weight gain and overall unhappiness in their bodies.

Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is focused on restoring the eater’s relationship with food and allowing her to find freedom in her food choices. The intuitive eater is in tune with her biological hunger cues – she eats when she’s hungry and stops when she’s full. She has permission to eat any food she desires, no longer under the power of the foods that used to be on her “naughty” list. She has abolished her inner Santa Claus, instead transforming him to be her own personal elf who informs, rather than condemns, her food choices. Intuitive Imogen uses food as a way to love her body and celebrate special occasions at the company cocktail party. She has done away with feeling any guilt around food, and is at her natural, healthy weight.

how do I become an intuitive eater?

While intuitive eating is hardly a new concept [it was developed by two Registered Dietitians in 1995], it is gaining clout in the nutrition industry amidst more and more diets leaving people feeling discouraged, dissatisfied and distrusting of themselves around food.

Because it does not offer a quick-fix solution, intuitive eating has not been widely popular in the mainstream media. Rather, it is a process that takes time, support and guidance. In fact, we like to call it our “graduate level course” because it truly DOES develop over time and takes an advanced mindset to absorb + embrace its concepts.

We support the development of intuitive eating in our clients in the following ways:

  • by teaching what food is [and isn’t!] to help form a sound food doctrine that instructs the ways our clients eat, think and prepare food
  • by guiding our clients to burn their “naughty” and “nice” food lists and transform their inner Santa Claus into their own personal elf to inform, rather than condemn, food choices
  • by providing support + encouragement to our clients, noting that the path toward becoming an intuitive eater is a PROCESS, not a pass // fail test
  • by encouraging our clients to love their bodies through food and celebrate special occasions through fun, sparkly foods

where can I find more information?

There are lots of resources available on this topic if you would like to dive a little deeper. Some of our favorites are:

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