The great thing about learning to eat normally and feel relaxed about eating is that there isn’t just one way to do it.
Intuitive Eating is fantastic and it was one of the books I read early on after quitting dieting for good. It’s one way to learn to eat normally – meaning, listening to your gut (literally) when it comes to knowing when to eat and when to stop, feeling relaxed around food, and feeling confident that you are eating what is right for your body. (It is not a way to lose weight. Losing weight generally does not involve anyone feeling “normal” around food.)
Intuitive eating is one of the ways to learn to eat normally, but it isn’t the only way. There are several other models of non-diet eating, but for now I’m going to talk about my absolute favorite, Ellyn Satter’s Eating Competence model. This was the model that really clicked for me personally and now I use it professionally as well.
Like intuitive eating, this model also trains you to eat according to internal regulation cues, but focuses on the discipline of providing yourself (and your family) rewarding meals at regular times, and the permission to eat as much as you like at each meal. Both IE and EC reject diet mentality and weight manipulation and embrace body diversity, both use internal signals of hunger and fullness to regulate eating. But EC relies more on meal structure to make sure you are eating while IE puts honoring hunger and fullness cues at the forefront of the work. This is useful for my clients who don’t feel hunger signals after years of dieting!
Most importantly, this model hinges on unconditional permission to eat – whatever and as much as you like. Beware of impostors that try to take away that permission, with rules like “eat a vegetable before the rest of your meal,” “fill up on water so you’ll eat less” or “sit and chew your food slowly.” No “tricks,” just permission. If you find yourself making rules about how much to eat that don’t involve how much you actually want to eat, always try to come back to this statement: “I can eat as much as I want.”
If you’re struggling with intuitive eating, you have some options. There isn’t just one way to do this non-diet thing, which is a great thing!