Hello! My name is Yurika and I am a student, competitive figure skater, and the founder of resilientHer (IG: @resilienther.blog)! We are a sports medicine organization dedicated to empowering female and non-binary athletes to reach their fullest potential by promoting mental and physical wellbeing. We are passionate about injury prevention, sports nutrition, mental health, and social justice advocacy within sports.
I am so excited to be collaborating with Caroline from Caroline Beth Health! As a fellow skater and health enthusiast, it is so inspiring to see people like Caroline making an impact! You can check out her amazing recipe for Valentine’s Day Strawberry Coconut Truffles here!
I am also thrilled to be sharing one of my biggest passions - intuitive eating! Without further ado, here’s the article!
Imagine being able to eat what you want, when you want it, and being your healthiest self in the process.
Imagine being able to know what your body wants and needs for you to live your best life.
Imagine being able to find peace, joy, and love with food.
This isn’t an imaginary diet - far from it. This is intuitive eating.
Introduced in 1995 by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Reich through their book, Intuitive Eating, intuitive eating centers around reconnecting with our body’s innate ability to nourish itself and find peace with food. The pioneering philosophy within the anti-diet and body neutrality movement has revolutionized how people approach their health.
While intuitive eating can seem like an unattainable fantasy, it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve compiled five tips you can implement to practice intuitive eating so you can embark on your journey to food freedom and true, holistic health!
Identify diet culture messaging
From the latest juice cleanse promising XX lbs of weight loss to “supplements” that claim to “detox” your body, we are bombarded with “health” messaging daily, often unaware of the forces behind it: diet culture.
The harsh reality is that diets don’t work; over 95% of diets fail. Studies have shown that weight cycling (a cycle of weight loss and gain) increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Those who diet are also 5x more likely to develop eating disorders, which are deadly, debilitating mental illnesses.
Most importantly, diet culture robs you of your mind and body’s ability to nourish itself - intuitive eating.
The first step to rejecting the diet mentality is to recognize when diet culture messages appear! Some common traits of diet culture messaging include:
Restricting or eliminating foods
Promising rapid weight loss
Pushing a product to buy (supplements, drinks, superfoods, meal replacements, laxatives, etc.)
Promising quick results
Promoting fatphobic messaging or body shaming
Once that becomes more natural, you can move towards challenging it!
Remove labels from your food
“Clean foods only!!” “Ugh, I’m so bad for eating this.” “This is my guilty pleasure.”
Have you ever noticed yourself saying these phrases? Chances are, you’ve also heard them from people around you - they’re unfortunately so typical in society.
Removing the notion of “good” foods and “bad” foods is central to intuitive eating - food has no moral value! All foods have a place in your diet, as they nourish your body in different ways. Some nourish your body, while others nourish your mind and soul. Both are necessary!
Often, this mindset comes from a desire to eat healthily, which is a valid motivation! However, we need to remember that health isn’t just physical; it’s mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and so much more. The stress and anxiety that labeling and eating “bad” foods causes are often unhealthier than just eating the food itself.
When you notice yourself labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” challenge those thoughts - why do I think this way? Is this mindset serving my mental and physical health in the long-term?
And ask yourself, what would I eat if food had no labels? What truly appeals to me! And then, lean into that - eat what you love!
Listen to your body
As cliche as it sounds, tuning into your body’s cues is vital to healing your relationship with food! And spoiler alert: it’s not just hunger! Your body sends a variety of signals to indicate how your body wants you to nourish it!
Some questions to ask yourself include:
Do you noticeing soreness and fatigue for days after a workout?
Do you feel tired or weak?
Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded?
Do you think about food more than usual?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s probably a sign that you need to eat!
Additionally, when you eat food, tune in to how you feel. How does this food make you feel physically? Mentally? Emotionally? How are my hunger and fullness cues?
Note that if you have been struggling with disordered eating/an eating disorder, your hunger cues will likely be off, in which case it’s often not safe to rely on them. Working with a registered dietitian specializing in intuitive eating can help you learn to nourish yourself!
Embrace the grey
Diet culture is notorious for its black and white thinking; you either succeed with your diet or have “fallen off the wagon.” You either eat 100% clean or 100% “unhealthy”. You either are “self-disciplined” or you’re “lazy.”
An often untold part of healing your relationship with food is learning to embrace the in-between. Unlike diets, the point of intuitive eating isn’t perfection - it’s to work towards having a healthy relationship with food! There is no “failing” on your journey to intuitive eating - there are only bumps along the way that will bring you closer to your goals!
When you notice yourself falling back into old habits or are struggling to shed them, be gentle with yourself. Your experiences are valid - it is no easy feat to move from disordered eating to intuitive eating. The fact that you are still trying is an achievement in and of itself!
Embracing the grey is also helpful with learning to eat a balanced diet. The golden rule holds - moderation is key! Eating cake for every meal isn’t healthy, and neither is eating kale salads! However, eating cake and kale in moderation with other foods is healthy, both for your mind and body!
Reach out for support
Intuitive eating is a complicated journey, and having supports in your life can make a world of difference! Surround yourself with people who support your intuitive eating journey - friends, family members, and classmates are all excellent places to start! Finding intuitive eating communities online can also be beneficial for sharing your experience and learning from each other.
Registered intuitive eating dietitians and psychologists can be integral to your support system as well! Working with professionals trained in intuitive eating can help you navigate its complexities and help you develop the skills necessary to regain your intuition.
I hope these strategies are helpful in your journeys to intuitive eating! We are all in this together - you got this, and we are all here for you!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at (800)-931-2237. If you are experiencing a crisis, text NEDA to 741741 or go to your nearest emergency room.