Intuitive eating and body image – 3 practical ways to feel better in your body

In this post, I’m sharing how to combine the principles of intuitive eating and body image work to heal the relationship with your body and food.

Specifically, I share:

  • Why quitting dieting is only one part of healing your relationship with food.
  • The reason intuitive eating and body image go hand in hand.
  • What makes intuitive eating and body image work a win-win combination.
  • Three practical ways to apply the principles of intuitive eating to feel better in your body.

Listen or read below:

The intuitive eating and body image series

This post is the final one in a series of three about intuitive eating.

In, Intuitive eating and its influence on body image, I explain what intuitive eating is.

Then, in Use the principles of intuitive eating for better body image, I explore the 10 principles of intuitive eating.

So, if you haven’t read either of those, you might want to check them out before diving into this one.

In this post, I share some practical tips on using the principles of intuitive eating alongside the work you’re doing on body acceptance, to heal the relationship with your body and food.

Intuitive eating and body image go hand in hand

When clients start work with me, many have stopped dieting, but still struggle with their relationship with food.

Typically, they don’t feel they can trust themselves around food and still believe their health and worth is tied to being thinner.

When they’re in this situation, I know they’ll benefit from learning about intuitive eating.

Body image and intuitive eating go hand in hand. And for many clients, body acceptance work isn’t complete without an exploration of how they relate to food, and vice-versa.

If you’re dissatisfied with your body, that often drives the motivation to diet.

Even when dieting is driven by the desire to be healthy, the belief behind this desire is that a thin body is a healthy body.

So, if you can accept your body, this can remove the need to diet.

But, I also believe that years of dieting disconnects you from your natural appetite, making it difficult to get back to non-diet eating.

Learning about intuitive eating can support you in reclaiming your natural appetite and having a peaceful relationship with food.

And, when you’re not eating for thinness, it helps you to accept the body you’re in.

Using the principles of intuitive eating to feel good in your body

So, how can you combine the principles of intuitive eating and body image work to heal your relationship with your body and food?

Well, I’ve selected three of the intuitive eating principles for you to try, with suggestions on how you can begin practising them.

Reject the diet mentality

This is the first principle of intuitive eating, which encourages you to understand the many ways in which diets cause harm, while not giving you the weight loss you wanted.

To help you reject diet mentality, I’d encourage you to do two things.

Firstly, research the physical and mental impacts of dieting

For example, diets disconnect you from your natural hunger and fullness signals.

They also put your body into starvation mode, which results in your body holding onto weight, and sometimes even gaining more in the long-term.

When you do your homework on dieting, you’ll soon realise they are far from healthy! I’d recommend you read ‘Anti-Diet’ by Christy Harrison to help with this.

Secondly, understand the root cause of why you diet

What made you believe you need to control your food and body size in the first place?

Are you using dieting as a coping mechanism to avoid feeling difficult emotions – to comfort and soothe yourself?

Really notice what’s going on for you when you feel the urge to diet. Are you feeling overwhelmed or out of control in your life or not good enough?

Diets can provide a much-needed distraction when life gets difficult. So often it’s not about your body, but about something else you don’t want to face.

Challenge the food police

Most of my clients have an inner judge that criticises their food choices. Some also have external critics, who are usually family members.

This intuitive eating principle is about reframing judgmental self talk and setting boundaries with food shamers.

To help with your inner critic, start by simply noticing what it’s saying, and reframe anything judgmental.

So, for example, if you find your critic saying, “God, I’m hungry again, I’m so out of control!”, you might reframe that to, “I’m really hungry” (which has no judgment) or “I’m hungry for this food because it was once forbidden, and it’s only natural my body is craving it now when I haven’t had it for so long.”

If the food police are family or friends, practice putting in place clear boundaries.

If someone comments about you still being hungry or how much you’re eating, you could simply say, “Please don’t comment on my food”, or “I love you, but I don’t want to talk about food.”

Respect your body

I love this intuitive eating principle, because it so closely mirrors the body acceptance work I do.

This principle is about respecting your body’s size or shape even when it changes.

When you can do this, it not only helps you to accept the body you’re in, but it can reduce the pressure to return to dieting.

So, think about ways you can show your body that you respect it. If you were advising a friend how they could do this, what would you suggest?

I doubt your suggestions would include things like saying nasty things to your body or punishing it by under eating and over exercising!

Some ways that you can show your body respect might include:

  • Buying clothes that fit it as it is NOW
  • Eating enough food – eating to satisfy your hunger
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Not pushing past limits – noticing when you need to rest and making sure that you’re not pushing through pain or injury when exercising

So that’s it, three intuitive eating principles and how you can use them to promote body acceptance and heal your relationship with food.

If you’re struggling with body acceptance and want some support, I’m here for you!

Let’s find out if my coaching programme, The Body Confidence Journey, is the next best step for you.

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