I had the awesome opportunity to interview Evelyn Tribole, author of the book Intuitive Eating. This book has changed my life. It’s taken me about 5 years, but I’m in an imperfectly peaceful place with food and my body.
I believe one of the differences between Intuitive Eating and dieting is that there is pleasure. What is the satisfaction principle and why is discovering the satisfaction principle so crucial in becoming a joyful, intuitive eater? The Satisfaction principle is the hub of Intuitive Eating—it’s eating in a manner that is pleasurable and sustaining. If you aim for satisfaction in your eating, it gets you closer to balance. For example, it doesn’t feel good to undereat and it doesn’t feel good to overeat. One culture that really does this well is the French—France. They really enjoy, appreciate, and take time to eat their food-it’s one of life’s pleasures. France ranks in the top three for the lowest incidence of heart disease in the world. They also have half the obesity rate compared to the U.S.A. for both adults and children.
When I first decided to reclaim my intuitive eating abilities, it took me a long time to legalize different foods. As a result, I gained some weight. I think a lot of former dieters try IE initially, but when they try to make peace with food, they find themselves turning to foods that were formerly forbidden to them. What advice and support would you give to new intuitive eaters? It’s important to stay attuned to your body, and also go at your own pace, and as you feel ready.
Can structure and intuitive eating co-exist and if so, what might that look like? Yes. When someone is chaotic in their eating and goes long periods between eating, say longer than 5-hours—it can result in eating in extreme conditions—ravenously hunger (too hungry), which leads to eating more food (usually too much) to feel satiated. And this can feel scary. In order to help develop consistency, I might suggest implementing what I call ‘self-care’ structure of eating—which might be planning to eat 3 meals and a couple of snacks at a consistent time. It’s like Intuitive Eating with training wheels. The structure is the timing of eating—but the person still eats according to hunger and stops when full. It’s more like a commitment to stop and assess hunger, and eat accordingly. It’s also a process of maintaining your boundaries—where taking care of your body (nourishing it) becomes the priority, rather than blowing off a meal in order complete a deadline or go out with friends.
Many dieters are afraid to trust their bodies. How can people learn to reconnect with their hunger and satisfaction signals? It’s important to have realistic expectations, and the longer someone has been dieting, the longer it takes to get to know your body and how food feels in it. The first step is listening to your body—which takes time and being still!
What are some common misconceptions people have about intuitive eating? There is a misperception that Intuitive Eating promotes a junk food diet. This usually stems from a combination of not reading the book (and the supporting science) and the fear that “If I eat anything I want, I will eat junky and be unhealthy”.
Yet, it feels good to eat mostly healthy foods. And when you remove the forbidden food rules—you really get to ask yourself—do I really want this food now? Will I really enjoy it now? Is this what my body wants? How will my body feel if I eat this food now?
The paradox of permission, is that a person will often discover that he or she does not even like the food they have been lusting over—and even when they like a particular food, they are often surprised to discover that they don’t want it at the given moment.
After all, if you can eat the food—why eat it in a manner that does not feel good—there will be more opportunities (there is no more dieting or forbidden foods, this is not the last opportunity to eat it).
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview!
Where are you on your Intuitive Eating journey?
Have you said goodbye to dieting for weight loss?
Read more about my thoughts about Intuitive Eating here: