The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating are from Tribole and Resch's Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.
Principle 3: Make Peace With Food
What does it mean to make peace with food? "Make peace with food." It might seem like a simple four-word sentence, but this simple sentence packs in a lot of meaning. Essentially, making peace with food means giving yourself unconditional permission to eat.
When we spend all of our time wrapped up in food rules telling ourselves we can't or shouldn't eat certain foods, it only serves to create a sense of deprivation. These food rules and the deprivation lead to a long list of "forbidden foods". Remember, "the number one way to predict overeating and regain weight that was lost is by practicing deprivation (re: dieting)." In dieting, there are almost always forbidden foods. Think about it—whether a specific food (ie. cookies) or a type of food (ie. carbs), diets set up rules and establish forbidden foods to steal us away from food peace.
...diets set up rules and establish forbidden foods to steal us away from food peace.
Forbid forbidden foods
Forbidden foods in dieting are just fine and dandy (a term I've used here for sarcastic purposes to imply things are neither "fine" nor "dandy") for a little while, but pretty soon you start to crave them. The longer you go without them, the more they can become the only thing you can think about. Do you remember the first example story from the second post in my IE&Me series? It gave us a glimpse of how the forbidden carbs set the individual up for a diet failure. These cravings are biological responses to deprivation.
Here's a non-food deprivation example for you to consider:
If you've ever been around children, you've probably noticed they want to have all of the things for themselves at all times. You could put a child in a room with all of the coolest and most expensive toys, but if you tell him he can't have the toilet paper tube in the corner of the room, that's the only thing he'll want. Yep, it could be a completely uninteresting toilet paper tube, but as soon as he can't have it, he wants it. He doesn't have to think long about it, either. As soon as he can't have it, he wants it.
That toilet paper tube is just like a forbidden food. As soon as you can't have it, you want it. Once the child is allowed to have the toilet paper tube, he will lose interest in it. The only thing that will take away the power of a forbidden food is to make it not forbidden.
Make friends with the toilet paper tube
Making peace with food is about being friends with the once-forbidden foods (aka the toilet paper tube). It's learning to have a safe, friendly relationship with forbidden foods. This can be a challenging process, for sure, but it's only because we've labeled these forbidden foods as "bad" for so long.
When you begin to explore food peace and reintroduce yourself to your once-forbidden foods, it is important to not put conditions on the experience. This means not telling yourself things like "well, I can eat this cake and ice cream now, but later I have to go on a thirty-minute run to work it off". Don't bargain with yourself to nourish your body.
Don't bargain with yourself to nourish your body.
Was natalie able to make peace with food?
I am pleased to say yes, Natalie* was able to begin making peace with her trigger foods. This was a process for her (as it is with all of us), and some foods and food categories took longer to make peace with than others. She found that the old diet voice would sneak in here and there and remind her those foods were forbidden, but with the awakening of her Intuitive Eater voice, she was able to re-frame those unhelpful diet thoughts into helpful intuitive ones.
When Natalie first came to be, ALL sweets were on her forbidden foods list. And I must say, she rather enjoyed herself as she was getting reacquainted with all of her once-forbidden desserts. What was interesting for her to see, though, was that once she started allowing herself to eat desserts again she found she didn't like all of them. She learned she didn't have a preference for certain flavors and was able to re-establish her preferences to what she truly enjoyed.
Tell some more of your story
In my last series post, I alluded to the fact I had to make peace with food in order to be able to honor my hunger. I've been enjoying the process of reintroducing myself to so many foods I'd stopped eating over the years because of how they were perceived as "bad" or "unhealthy". Some of these "bad" or "unhealthy" foods I made a conscious decision to stop eating (like after the doctor told me I needed to cut back on certain foods to improve certain blood values), but a lot of them I cut out subconsciously because diet culture had become second nature to me.
I was surprised when I first started my path to becoming an Intuitive Eater to learn that while I had never gone on a diet, I was neck-deep in diet mentality thinking. It's diet culture and a diet mentality that tells us foods are "bad" or "unhealthy". And sometimes during this process, things can get emotional or intense. Sometimes there are quite a few learned beliefs we have to process and let go of before we can continue to move forward.
This process of making peace with food has been ongoing for me. When I began the process, there were foods I immediately reintroduced into my life, and I still find others to this day I had forgotten about and needed to experience again. Some of the foods I reintroduced myself to I ate quite a bit of (deprivation!), and others, not so much. For instance, I used to LOVE ice cream and ate it pretty much whenever it was offered, but through this process I've found I'm quite particular about the ice cream I prefer. I won't settle for sub-standard ice cream just because it's there. I appreciate the rich flavors and textures of select ice creams, and I eat them when I want to eat them. I don't have to save ice cream (or any other foods) for a special occasion!
If you'd like to learn how to make peace with food, I'm here to help! I've got first-hand experience with this process, and I understand the emotions it can bring and the difficulties of letting go of food rules and diet mentality beliefs. I know this peace-making isn't always a comfortable part of the process, but nutrition therapy is a safe space to share the experience and work together through any concerns this process brings.
*Client names have been changed so their true identities will not, in any way, be revealed, in order to maintain their anonymity.
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Hi there! I'm Sydney Cavero-Egúsquiza.
I'm a small town Oklahoma dietitian with a passion for enjoying life. I love Disneyland, Smarties, and sharing time with family. My mission? To help individuals enjoy their lives by making peace with food and trusting their bodies!