If you are new to the concept of intuitive eating it can feel very overwhelming. With hundreds of different (and often conflicting) sources across the internet and social media platforms, it can be difficult to navigate what intuitive eating actually IS and what it isn’t.
Working with an intuitive eating provider is the most beneficial way to navigate this process. However, making that leap into healing can be intimidating. Below we will explore some of the common misconceptions around IE that often hold people back from committing to this way of eating.
Before you keep reading, make sure you check out one of our latest articles on the dieting and comparison trap!
If you are looking for an IE provider, you came to the right place! I am a dietitian in Philadelphia, PA with a focus on intuitive eating, non-diet, and eating disorder recovery. Reach out to me through my services page!
Intuitive Eating (IE) Common Misconceptions
Misconception #1: Intuitive eating is just eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
Ah, we wish it were that easy! Honoring your hunger and fullness cues is a large part of intuitive eating but there is so much more that goes into it than just eating when hungry and stopping when you’re full.
When coming from a history of disordered eating or chronic dieting we might not even realize that we are out of touch with our hunger signals.
One example of this may be not feeling hungry throughout the day and becoming ravenously hungry at night to the point of possibly bingeing/overeating.
It is so much more than just your hunger & fullness cues.
Simplifying intuitive eating to only eating when we are hungry and stopping when full negates many other aspects of IE (such as healing our relationship with food, learning to honor cravings, etc) and does not take into account that we may need time to rediscover our hunger signals.
Let’s not confuse eating intuitively with the hunger and fullness diet because it is so much more than that!
Do you have disordered eating habits? Learn how to find out in this blog post on disordered eating!
Misconception #2: Intuitive eating causes weight loss OR causes weight gain.
We don’t exactly know! This may sound surprising but intuitive eating doesn’t really have anything to do with weight. The goal of IE is to reconnect to your body and honor your physical and mental needs.
Ideally in this process, we find a weight where your body is comfortable and you no longer need to utilize behaviors such as undereating or overexercising to maintain an arbitrary number on the scale. When incorporating intuitive eating practices, making peace with food, and eating in a way that is both physically and mentally satisfying we cannot say for sure where your weight is going to go. It may go up, it may go down, or it may stay the same!
A note on set point theory.
You may be familiar with the “set point theory” which is a theory that suggests our bodies are wired to stay at or near a certain weight. This may sound discouraging, but accepting that our body has a place where it feels comfortable. Also where we have the ability to enjoy foods we love, participate in joyful movement, and have the energy to carry us through our busy day. It can actually be comforting to recognize.
Your body is not YOU and you are not just a body. Imagine all of the space we can make for joy, passion, and healing when we take weight out of the equation.
Misconception #3: I’m just going to eat “bad” foods for every meal if I start intuitive eating
This is a BIG worry among those who are starting their intuitive eating journey, and it makes sense why this may be a fear when coming from a place of chronic dieting or disordered eating.
Maybe we fear constant cravings of food we might deem as “bad” or unhealthy because we don’t let ourselves respond to those cravings now. Perhaps we feel a loss of control around certain foods because these foods or food groups have been “off limits” in the past.
Why you should honor cravings.
Honoring cravings is an important piece of intuitive eating but we also want to acknowledge other factors including logic and reason. If you have a fear of wanting to eat only certain foods for every meal or snack take a step back and think:
“How would I feel if I had X food for every meal/snack?”
“What would my energy levels be like?”
“Would I feel satisfied?”
Incorporating foods we’ve previously avoided or restricted for various reasons can be intimidating but it is important for showing our bodies we have access to everything our body needs and craves. It also helps us to move towards viewing food neutrally instead of seeing it through the lens of “good” or “bad”.
Working with a dietitian helps to take some of the stress off of you so you don’t have to navigate this new way of eating alone and also gives you support on your journey.
If you are looking to start your intuitive eating journey, or need more support on the journey you are already on – our Signature 1:1 Intuitive Eating Program may be for you.