Last week, we discussed how food rules interfere with our ability to eat normally, or to eat without feelings of guilt, frustration, or anxiety. We learned how dieting rules, while perhaps an unconscious way of navigating through overwhelming food choices, can lead to more severe behaviors, influencing the possibility of disordered eating, or diseases such as Anorexia or Bulimia. This is perhaps one of the most detrimental consequences of having food rules.
Elyse Resch, nutrition therapist for 30 years, specialist in intuitive eating, and co-author of the esteemed book, Intuitive Eating, has described this situation like this: “What often perpetuates an eating disorder is the fear of simply not knowing how to eat. Intuitive Eating offers a path to freedom from negative food thoughts and negative body thoughts, while opening the door to a future filled with the security of trusting your body to provide you with all of the inner wisdom you need in order to feel safe in the realm of eating.”
Eating disorders are indefinitely the most extreme example of food rules. Coupled with misdirected feelings of guilt and shame, food becomes the culprit for years of internal struggles, battles that become personified in the form of food wars.
If you or someone you care about has been suffering with an eating disorder, you can mostly like understand what it’s like to live in the gridlock of rigid food rules. Perhaps food rules are what govern your life and determine how your every waking moment is spent. Eating disorders offer the faulty sense of control through the adherence to food regulations, but the truth is this is only bondage, a prison that shuts out the light of freedom and the ability to fully live and thrive.
We were never intended to be governed by an outside set of rules that determine what are body should and shouldn’t eat. Only our bodies can be the best judge of what we need, which they are capable of doing perfectly if we would stop from intruding! Fears, unresolved pains, situations that have caused us to mistrust others and ourselves-all these things in combination have led us to cling to something outside our own bodies to trust in an overbearing world of calories, diets, and endless food choices.
The beauty of intuitive eating is that it is innateness at its best. We were all born as intuitive eaters, and this was once a process as normal to human beings as breathing. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you feel full. Something so simple and natural could only be misguided by the revolting force of the dieting industry, overrun by something so powerful that are instincts become quiet and subdued.
There is a way back to our roots, back to letting ourselves believe that our body can be trusted and in control of what we eat and how we live. Think of a baby who turns their head away from a bottle when full, or of a toddler who begins playing with their food when they’ve had enough. We started out with this ability to self-regulate our food and bodies, but once influenced by the voice of what others say we should or should not be eating, this becomes lost.
One of the most exciting aspects about the recovery process is the improved relationship that progresses with yourself, your body, and eating habits. As you begin to heal from within and deal with underlying issues related to your eating disorder, you will find restitution within your realm of eating, freedom from the oppression and burden of food rules. Though the journey is long, and often times difficult, learning to become an intuitive eater again is just one of the many positive repercussions of the recovery process.
If you are interested in learning more about this, talk with your doctor or counselor about working with a nutrition therapist as a part of a treatment team that can guide you to wellness and recovery.
How would being an intuitive eater change your life?