I finally adopted a healthy relationship with food in my twenties. It happened during a 10-month internship in the city of New Orleans. I was obsessed with eating low-fat and was deathly afraid of fat. I constantly complained about how fat seemed to be infused into every food imaginable until a friend called me on it.
“Do you even enjoy eating, Maryann?” she asked. At that moment I decided to ditch my low-fat-only diet so I could enjoy the culturally-diverse food while I was there.
But this time was different. I didn’t take it as free license to eat like crazy. Instead, I continued to eat a balanced diet and exercise. I soon figured out there was no reason to overeat because unlike before, I could always have some fatty food the next day. By the end of the 10-months, I actually lost some weight. How could this be? My desire to overeat was almost nonexistent. It was one of the most liberating feelings in my life.
My search for resources led me to Intuitive Eating
After my internship was over and I started working as a dietitian, I searched for resources on this topic. Eventually, I found a book called Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, and Elyse Resch, MS, RD. These two dietitian-authors write that we are all born with a natural ability to regulate food intake. Unfortunately, modern society teaches the opposite – we should clean our plate, restrict what we eat to lose weight and avoid eating “bad” foods even if we crave them. What I have learned since reading this book is that our children will pick up on our food issues unless we break free of them. This is especially true for mothers and daughters.
Intuitive Eating aims to get you back to the intuitive eater you were born to be – eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are comfortably full (and that means eating any food you want!). There are 10 principles to guide you through the intuitive eating process. The first eight work to undo the damaging effects of culture’s “diet mentality” and the last two discuss nutrition and exercise.
Don’t miss my podcast interview with Elyse Resch on Intuitive Eating.
Not sure how to be an intuitive eating role model?
Being a good food role model for your kids is not about eating perfectly. In fact, I hope my children don’t become obsessed with eating only healthy foods. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food – one where eating nutritious foods isn’t a chore, where they naturally maintain a healthy weight, and they are able to eat indulgent foods without feeling guilty or “bad”.
If you weren’t raised an intuitive eater and feel your relationship with food needs some work, picky up Intuitive Eating. It will not only make you a better role model, but it will also change your life.
just ordered the book. Looks great. I also just read David Kessler’s “The end of overreating”. It has some good stuff in it too.
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Let me know how you like it. I’ll have to check out your book too.
I ordered this book a few weeks ago when I first discovered your blog, and I can’t say enough good things about it. As someone who’s been dieting since the age of 10 and always struggling to eat “healthy” foods, this book is exactly what I needed. Much like you mention, I’d become someone who no longer enjoyed eating because of the associated guilt and anxiety (although I still ate plenty). I’m only a few weeks into
“Intuitive Eating”, but for the first time, I feel excited about eating and that I might finally be able to develop a healthy relationship with food! And although I’ve eaten lots of delicious “forbidden” foods these weeks, I haven’t felt the need to “stuff” myself once – which has been amazingly freeing. I only wish I had discovered it years ago! I can’t thank you enough!!
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
I’m so happy to hear you are on the road to a healthier relationship with food! I remember how liberating it was for me when I made the mental shift years ago. Keep me updated on your progress!