*It is important to take note If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder or specific health condition it is important to work with an experienced health professional to see if IE is right for you and get the support you need.
I recently wrote a post about what Intuitive Eating is. If you're new to the term I suggest you start over there first. For everyone else, I want to chat about IE and who it is good for and also answer some common questions. In simple terms......Intuitive eating can be beneficial for everyone . Continue reading to find out more
Intuitive eating is for you if
I'm not happy with my size, can I lose weight before I try Intuitive Eating concepts?
Unfortunately we are taught (incorrectly) that weight loss= health. This is a very common misunderstanding and one that might take a bit to switch your mindset. The need for weight loss is very much due to diet culture and diet mentality, the very thing intuitive eating is helping us get away from. We have been so conditioned to think small= healthy when in reality it should be our habits and actions that we are focused on. Health At Every Size is a research based movement that can be a great resource to learn more at. I would also like to challenge you with the question of how will you lose weight? Will it be by going on another diet? Cutting our specific food groups? Counting calories, macros or points? Have you been able to maintain your results from this in the past? 95% of diets do not work and those that lose weight will gain it back (if not more) withing a few years. Why not get off that cycle and try something that is forever?
Won't I go crazy if I am allowed to eat anything I want?
Most people think that if they can truly eat anything they want it will be a free for all and they will eat forbidden foods the rest of their life. When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat anything we will find our bodies crave balance. When we can have whatever we want whenever we want it food loses its power. This is called the habituation effect. To simplify it, it's like when you buy a new pair of shoes and you just LOVE them. You begin to wear them everyday and eventually they just become a regular old pair of shoes. Our "bad" or "off limit" foods haven't had the chance to become ordinary to us. When food is truly seen as just food and not something good or bad we are able to have it to satisfy us and stop when we are satisfied.
Is Intuitive Eating Anti- Health?
Intuitive Eating is all about health, well-being, honoring your body and being kind to ourselves. IE teaches us to trust our bodies and build and healthy and nurturing relationship with them. Diet culture often teach us that if we are not focused on weight loss than we are not focused on healthy living. This is simply not true. Intuitive Eating supports nourishing foods that honor your unique body and needs. It encourages movement that you enjoy doing and feels good on your body. You can learn more about the principles here
I hope you all enjoyed this post. If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave a comment.
I'm rooting for you
Intuitive eating is the complete opposite of dieting......and when most people hear that their internal panic meter rises. However, intuitive eating can be beneficial to anyone and there are a lot of health benefits that come with it. When I work with clients and groups on intuitive eating I like to describe it as writing with your non dominate hand. It's awkward, uncomfortable and takes work to get comfortable. The same applies to IE, it's usually the complete opposite of what we've been told to do over our lifetime but it's an ability we were all born with.
What is intuitive eating?
IE (or intuitive eating) is listening and honoring our bodies needs and wants. It's listening to and trusting our bodies cues and giving our body what it needs. It has nothing to do with meal plans, will power or a specific diet to follow. IE is a non diet approach that helps individuals break the chronic diet cycle and build a healthy relationship with food and their body. It is taking into consideration that each person is unique and needs and craves different things.
The 10 principles
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Take a look back at all the diets you have tried over your lifespan. Have they worked (and by worked I mean been able to be maintained for a lifetime and given you freedom, health and nourishment)? For 95-97% of people the answer is no. Diet culture is everywhere. It can be found in our desire to cut out certain food groups, weigh and measure things, letting the scale dictate our health and so much more. Diet culture is everywhere we look and you have every right to challenge these things and be an advocate for yourself.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Keep your body nourished and listen to your hunger cues. Opposed to going off of a serving size, meal plan or calorie count, listen to your body and its hunger cues.
3. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Allow all foods in your diet. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. Once we begin labeling foods they begin to become off limits. And what do we want when we can't have something? You know the drill. When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat our bodies want balance and nourishment. All foods can have a place in your life.
4. Challenge the Food Police .
Challenge your thoughts that tell you you're "good" for eating something or "bad" for doing something else. This is #dietculture These are the types of thoughts that cause shame, anxiety and unhealthy thoughts/behaviors around food.
5. Respect Your Fullness
Tune in to your body and notice if you are full. Respect your bodies fullness cues. This takes mindfulness practice and being aware of how your body is feeling as you're eating. You can practice this by pausing throughout your meal and checking in with your body.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Choose foods that satisfy you. Before you eat check in with yourself and see what your body is craving. Something sweet? savory? hot? cold? listen to your body and allow yourself to have what you want.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
How can you comfort yourself without using food? Sometimes this means feeling your emotions instead of avoiding them. Sometimes we need to journal, connect with a friend, go for a walk or a different activity that brings us comfort in a time of need.
8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint.
As humans we love to compare. It is part of our nature. It is important that we respect our body and respect who we are though. Our bodies have this amazing ability to keep us at a size and weight where we perform and function best. When we dictate that through extreme dieting we are robbing our bodies of doing the job they know how to do best.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
I love to call this joyful movement. Find things that you love doing (and this might be different everyday). Move in a way that you enjoy and feels good for your body. This might be yoga, running, dancing, swimming, lifting weights among a lot of other things. And it's OKAY for this to look different every day.
10 Honor Your Health–
Make choices that honor your health, values and also your tastebuds. No need to be perfect. Consider how certain foods make you feel. Find foods that honor your health and nourish your body.
Over 60 research studies have been done that have shown IE leads to
Resources to get started
These two books are great resources to get started
Health at Every Size
Additionally I have ongoing groups throughout the year based around Intuitive Eating as well as resources through social media.
Research shows us that more than 80% of 10 year old's are afraid of being fat. We also know that by the age of 6, girls especially, start to express concerns about their shape, weight and size.
We know certain things that contribute to a poor body image such as unrealistic expectations from the media, Photoshop, social media and so on. However I think it's important to talk about what we can do as parents to help foster a positive body image in our children.
1. Be open with your kids about diet culture
It's unrealistic to shelter your children from this 60 billion industry so instead have an open discussion about how media has unrealistic expectations. Discuss with them how this sometimes makes people feel like they're not enough. Be open and honest and explore how your kids feel about the diet industry and how these messages make them feel. Doing this on a regular basis will help our kiddos know it's safe to talk about and also that it's okay to be effected by it.
2. Stop the diet and weight loss talk
This is where as parents it is SO important to do your own work. If you are talking about "being on a diet" "needing to go on a diet" or "I'm not allowed to eat that because i'm on a diet" you are sending the message to your child that in order to feel worth we need to look a certain way. According to your child, you walk on water. You are the first person they look up to and the first person they learn from. When their perfect mama declares she needs to go on a diet the seed is planted that they are not good enough as they are and their body needs to be morphed into a certain size.
3. Talk about size diversity
Openly discuss how people are all different shapes, sizes and colors and celebrate it! There is no one way to look. Health doesn't depend on a size or shape but truly on how we feel and how we nourish our bodies.
4. Don't compliment your child on their size, shape or weight
When we make comments to our children about how thin they are it puts an unrealistic expectation on them. Bodies are suppose to change over time. Children are suppose to gain weight through puberty. While children are growing their bodies and looks are going to be changing on a regular basis. Instead compliment your child on how good of a friend they are. Talk to them about their values, dreams and goals. Openly discuss what things they think make a kind person. There are SO many more important things to talk about other than size and shape.
5. Create healthy habits together
Eat nourishing foods. Enjoy treats. Learn to listen to your body for its hunger and fullness cues. Honor those cues. Move your body regularly because it feels good. Say positive things about yourself. Write out a gratitude list.
I strongly believe a positive body image begins in the home. It begins with us. It begins with the messages that over time, our children slowly start to pick up on a believe. Nobody is born hating their bodies. It's a learned process. If we can begin implementing healthy self talk within our families we will be able to watch a revolution unfold.
I'm sure the reason you're reading this blog is because you are well aware of the culture we live in today. You are aware of the messages that promote the perfect body, the perfect diet, the perfect exercise routine and an unrealistic expectation of beauty. Unfortunately our kids are impacted by all of this and as parents we want them to grow up strong, confident and authentic to who they truly are.
A few questions I get asked regularly is how do I help my child? How do I help them grow up healthy and confident? How do I help them love themselves unconditionally and be kind to their bodies and celebrate their uniqueness? These are great questions and somewhat complex. I am fascinated on this topic and I find myself researching it constantly through my grad program.
First I say kudos to caring. The sole fact that you are investing your time to reading this blog and learning is a fantastic step.
Second, I encourage you to explore these questions on your own. Do YOU feel healthy and confident? Can YOU love yourself unconditionally? Are YOU able to be kind to yourself and celebrate your uniqueness? Doing your own work is usually the hardest and most rewarding part in all of this. I don't believe we can tell our kiddos to love themselves exactly how they are if we are constantly checking our own bodies in the mirror and tearing them apart. I DO believe we can model positive behaviors and teach our kids through our own actions, whether we think they notice them or not (because let's be real, they totally pickup on EVERYTHING we do).
(If you want some more concrete steps on creating a positive body image in our children you can read that here )
I came across a research article not too long ago about a study done on mother daughter relationships and daughters body image. Some interesting statements in this article are followed.
So the question is HOW do we do this? I know as a parent we are willing to do anything for our kids. In case, the most important thing we can be doing is working on our own selves. When we can treat ourselves we self compassion, unconditional love and self acceptance it is going to overflow to our daughters well-being and in my opinion our sons and other loved ones as well.
If you need help getting started I have a quick post on self kindness that you can check out here or if you are local drop in to my free women's group.
The most important thing to remember is it's never too late to start creating a healthy relationship with ourselves, our bodies, our minds or even with our kiddos.
So much love to you mama on this journey we are on,
Motherhood. I could simply say this word and mom's everywhere would be nodding their heads with a reassuring "ahh yes, motherhood". It's hard to describe and put into words because it is simply something you cannot explain, you can only experience. The moment you decide you want to become a mother you start learning lessons along the way. My son's first birthday is coming up this month and like most mom's i'm sitting here stunned that a year has flown by. As I reflect on where this last year has gone I can't help but think about how much my little guy has taught me in such a short time.
Time waits for no one
This one makes sense and we hear it on probably a daily basis "just wait, he will be graduating college soon" "he'll be asking for your keys before you know it". I get it now. I mean, I was just in the hospital. I was just waking my husband up at 2AM to let him know "this is definitely it, time for a baby!". We blinked and a year went by. Enjoy every little second you can and soak it all in. Spend less time doing dishes, worrying about the future and stressing about the craziness. Soak up every single second you can. Hold your baby, study their face, sit and play with them, learn along side them.
Take care of yourself
Mom guilt is a real thing but I've learned how important it is for me to get time in for myself. Oh how much I appreciate that 50 minute yoga class or the ten minutes my husband takes little man to go feed the dogs. Whether you can fit in something big or something small, make a priority to fit it in. For me, self care makes me kinder, more patient and a more loving mama. Take the time, make it regular and make it a priority. My self care may not be as leisurely or spontaneous as it once was but it has taught me to be present and intentional with the time I do get.
Baby sitting, help with laundry, a night out, a nap... it takes a tribe to raise a family. It takes grandparents, friends, cousins, aunties and uncles to make this whole thing work. Take the help when you can. We are completely spoiled by being surrounded by a supportive family. I understand that's not always the case for everyone so this is something I don't take for granted.
It's a season
Some great advice I got pre mama hood was to remember...it's all a season. When your life turns inside out just remember it wont be like this forever. Enjoy it, embrace the mess and remember you are strong enough to get through it all.I have felt exhaustion like I never no I could. We're still up 4+ times a night, Sometimes every hour. But man oh man those quiet moments when we cuddle makes every second worth it. When things seem hard and maybe even impossible, just remember it's a season that will pass. Soak it up as much as you can. And on another note, it's OKAY to be overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted. Motherhood is a life changing, beautiful miracle that I wouldn't trade for anything. But It's also okay to admit that it's really hard. Be gentle with yourself and offer lot's and lot's of grace.
You ARE doing a good job
Advice on sleep training, nursing, solid foods, nap schedules and everything in between can make you question yourself. I have had plenty of conversations with God and my husband saying "I DON"T KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT". There is so much advice, resources and different way to do things. Remember, YOU are doing a good job. YOU can love on your little like no one else. Life will go on if you don't follow the perfect bedtime routine or schedule.
From the moment we decided we wanted to become parents we began learning the art of patience. Pregnancy doesn't always happen when we want it to. We don't always (or ever) go in to labor on our due dates. Nap times don't happen at the perfect time every day. As our kiddos grow older and they want to do things on their own ( like walk through Costco over being held) and it forces us to sloooowwww down and step out of our busy, fast paced life. Having patience is one thing I have yet to master but continue to learn on a daily basis.
I have been pooped on, spit up on, woken up hourly, bitten during teething and I love that little man like no other. I have not been the perfect mom, I've been on my phone too much at times, I've become frustrated, my anxiety has gotten the better of me and that boy just wants to crawl up and cuddle with his mama at the end of the day regardless. The love that a mama and her child has is like no other.
Try, try and try again
This has been a humbling lesson for me. So many times prior to motherhood I would think things were impossible, too hard or I failed too many times. Do you know how hard a baby has to work to do anything!? I mean, Jacks worked so hard to learn how to crawl, walk and the most recent, run without falling face first. I've watched him try and fail over and over again until he could finally, successfully put a blanket over his head and play peek-a-boo. I've watched him unsure on how to climb off the couch until he tried over and over again and it became easy. Being a mama to this sweet little boy has proven to me that anything is possible if we don't give up.
Get clear on priorities
We unfortunatly are working through our first sickness with mister Jacks. It is heart breaking, difficult and a sure way to get clear on priorities. When your baby needs you and is sick, the things you were so worried about don't seem to matter anymore. Mamahood helps you get clear on the things that are truly important to you.
I am learning new things daily and this list could go on and on... but these are some things that have really stood out to me. I would love to hear about your journey and lessons that you've learned along the way too!
Our little man got sick for the first time last week (which resulted in a first birthday cancellation). It is THE hardest things watching your kiddo fight through the flu when they're so little. I wanted to share with you some of the things we did to help support his little body and also support our bodies. I also want to start off by saying all mama's are different and all mom's know their babes best. So do what works for you and your family. I believe in a good balance of natural preventative help and support and also the use of modern medicine. I am beyond thankful I have tools at home that I know support our bodies AND i am grateful for modern medicine and a doctors visit (especially as a first time mama). So, as always, do what works for you and your family.
Preventative Support For The Family:
Our little one has been at the stage where sleep doesn't happen too often. So this is an area we were totally lacking in. However, if you are in a stage of your life where you don't have a little one waking up constantly, make a priority to get a well rested night. Your body repairs itself at night so getting adequate Z's can help everything from your immune system to your concentration. A few simple tricks to a good nights sleep are
Staying hydrated helps your body in so many ways. Some of these include helping the body naturally detox, boost the immune system, increase energy and help repair cells. Aim for half your body weight in ounces and more if you can.
Here are some tips
Certain foods offer the body extra support. In the winter months especially we try to up our intake of greens, garlic, ginger and bone broth. We are mindful of the sweets we consume as well and work to nourish our bodies as much as possible.
Here's some helpful tips
We use essential oils daily for many benefits. When it comes to immune support we use doTERRAS onguard products all.the.time. They're seriously amazing. As a preventative we use the onguard cleaner, hand spray, tooth paste, beadlets and roller bottle daily. We use the roller bottle on our spines and bottoms of our feet. We use this for the entire family. Additionally we diffuse onguard daily in the winter months. I just watched this video on a hospital that is beginning to offer essential oils to clients opposed to pain medication. so amazing!
Here's some tips
I hope some of these tips help you. Luckily since we have started implementing essential oils and healthier habits into our home we haven't been sick in years. Now that we have a toddler that goes to the church and gym daycare weekly we are learning we may have to step our game up just a bit ;) I would love to hear any tips that you have to keep you and your family healthy .
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.