A PATH TO FREEDOM THROUGH INTUITIVE EATING
Blog Contributed by: Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD, Fiaedp, FADA
In the thirty plus years that I have been in private practice, working with clients with eating disorders, the one common thread that connects them all is the internal, invasive noise that they constantly carry around. Regardless of what stage of treatment, the majority of clients report that they’re “afraid to go off their meal plan”, or they “can’t trust themselves with foods they like”, or “they’re consumed with calories and exchanges”, etc., etc. For some, their symptoms may have resolved, their physical health returned, but their mental health is compromised by a remaining pervasive fear of eating.
Intuitive Eating offers a world of freedom from these thoughts—a world that has been blocked, while plagued by their eating disorders. The motivation to fully heal from the eating disorder stems from the knowledge that there will be a day in the future when this noise will fade, when eating will be a fully satisfying experience, and when body and food concerns have vanished. Sounds like a tall tale or an impossible dream? Far from it! Learning that they were actually born with all the wisdom they need to be able to eat with trust, and that the problem is simply that they have become disconnected from this wisdom is the key that unlocks the door to freedom.
Helping people move from body distrust to body trust is the main objective. It is achieved by dealing with four very important concepts:
- The Physiological and Neurochemical Foundation. Clients are taught that we “can’t fool Mother Nature”. In other words, any attempt to under-eat or to eat in an unbalanced way will prevent intuitive signals from being heard. Instead, powerful brain chemicals will take over to send out a message to overeat or to eat more of the nutrient that has been restricted. Physiologically, blood sugar levels will be affected, and physical and mental symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, headache, moodiness, etc. will invade the calm of the day.
- The Cognitive Realm. Challenging distorted myths and cognitions may seem like a “challenge”, but it’s an exercise that brings forth increased well-being and decreased self-doubt. Helping clients take an analytical look at their thoughts by bringing science and psychology to the fore will free them from the torture of second-guessing their food choices.
- The Emotional Layer. As clients stop beating themselves up with negative self-talk and leave behind restrictive thoughts about food, they’re able to truly take a look at when they are eating for emotional reasons rather than for physical hunger. At this point, they’re ripe for learning coping skills to deal with their emotions. They learn to identify their true needs when they seek food when not hungry. They practice sitting with their feelings to develop their “emotional muscle” and to seek comfort in other forms than food when the pain gets too great.
- The Spiritual Dimension. We’re often afraid to speak about spirituality in our practices, but isn’t learning to trust the body a spiritual pursuit? Where did those signals originate??? Beyond that question, there remains the pursuit of finding one’s soul purpose in life, which is individualized and meaningful—far more meaningful than an obsession with seeking a perfect body. There is also the spiritual connection that the clients form with their care providers that brings a trust in the universe that someone cares and will walk along with them on this healing path.
Choosing Intuitive Eating as a significant part of your treatment modality will not only lead your clients to freedom but will give you a deeply satisfying professional experience.
Elyse Resch is Co-author of Intuitive Eating