Q and A about Intuitive Eating (AKA Mindful Eating)
The following Q and A with * means it was taken from Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD & Eylse Resch, MS, RD, FADA.
*Q: How long will this process take (p. 248)?
A: Unfortunately, this question has no pat answer. It depends on how long you’re been dieting…and how willing you are to put weight loss off and concentrate on changing your relationship with food. We have seen some people connect quite rapidly with the concept and take only a month or two to be eating in a new way. For others, it’s taken much longer to accept the principles and make serious changes.
*Q: If I let myself eat whatever I want, won’t I eat uncontrollably and gain lots of weight (p. 248)?
A: When you have made complete peace with food and know that what you like will always be available to you, you’ll be able to stop after a moderate amount…remember, GUILT is what tends to make people eat uncontrollably. Intuitive Eating means having no guilt in your eating.
*Q: Should I try to explain what I’m doing (p.249)?
A: You can try, but it might be frustrating. Key phrases to give out would be:
– Dieting leads to deprivation, deprivation leads to craving, and craving can lead to out-of-control behavior.
– I eat WHATEVER I want when I’m hungry and find that I’m more easily able to stop when I’m full.
– When I feel satisfied with what I eat, I eat LESS.
– I’m learning to cope with my emotions without using food.
*Q: Will I ever LOSE weight doing this (p.249)?
A: It depends on your natural healthy weight-the weight your body will maintain with normal eating and normal exercise. If you’ve fluctuated between periods of dieting and overeating, you can probably reach your natural healthy weight. If you’ve used food to cope emotionally, you can reach your natural healthy weight. But if you’re already at your natural healthy weight and have an unrealistic view of what you should weigh and are trying to be even thinner, you won’t lose weight through Intuitive Eating.
Also, for some people, their metabolism has been altered and damaged by years of excessive dieting and weight yoyos. For them, extra exercise combined with gradually increasing the food they eat might be the only means for speeding up the metabolism and getting some of the extra weight off.
*Q: What if I can’t lose weight? What’s this all worth (p. 250)?
A: If you are someone who is genetically destined to weigh more than society’s standards and therefore cannot lose weight, you will derive a great deal of peace and contentment with this process. You will get off the “treadmill” of deprivation and guilt. You will eat in a way that’s pleasurable and satisfying. You will stop feeling guilty about your eating and stop blaming yourself for being overweight. You will stop overeating and with that stop feeling bloated and uncomfortable. You’ll stop intermittently undereating and with that stop feeling starved and uncomfortable. Achieving an intuitive eating style will free your time for more enriching thoughts and feelings (rather than food-worry and guilt). For many people, that means ultimately feeling happier.
*Q: How will I know when I’m full (p.250)?
A: When you have learned to honor your hunger, you’ll find that your fullness signals are much more apparent to you. If you eat all of the time and don’t feel hunger, it’s hard to experience fullness. You’ll have no base with which to start to judge the difference. It’s helpful to take a time-out in the middle of your meal to test your fullness.
*Q: Can I ever eat something if it just looks good, but I’m not hungry (p. 250)?
A: The Intuitive Eating process is not another diet with a set of absolute rules. Although honoring your hunger is one of the first principles, there will be many times when you’ll chose to eat something just for its taste or sensual pleasure, w/o being hungry. We call this “taste” hunger. If you give yourself permission for occasional responses to taste hunger, you’ll feel more satisfied with your entire eating experience and find that you end up eating SMALLER quantities of food in general.
*Q: What about good nutrition? If I eat WHATEVER I want, won’t I be unhealthy (p. 251)?
A: We have found, in case after case, that giving yourself permission to eat whatever you like ultimately results in a 90-10 balance of food choice. You’ll find, after you have finally made peace with food, that about 90% of your food choices will be fairly light and nutritionally healthy and 10% will be play food. the 90% healthy takes care of your body while the 10% play takes care of your soul! After all, if you never have to be deprived of a favorite food again, you won’t have a great urge to over do it. You’ll want to feel good, and feeling good comes from eating lightly w/o stuffing yourself.
*Q: Do I have to exercise to make this work (p.252)?
A: Exercise/fitness/activity is something you’ll probably want to do because it makes you feel good. If you disconnect your eating from your exercise, you’ll find that you don’t get into the old trap of feeling that exercise is for the purpose of weight loss. Fitness is a benefit for all people, young or old, slim or overweight. It’s part of a healthy existence.
If you are someone who is adamant about NOT exercising, [Mindful Eating] will still be of benefit to you, because it frees you from the world of DIETING. Who knows, you may end up exercising despite yourself!
*Q: Should I tell others that they should try Intuitive [AKA Mindful] Eating (p.252)?
A: Most people don’t like being told what to do. It usually makes them feel rebellious. You’re probably better off just living this new lifestyle. If people ask you why you seem so calm and non-obsessed about food or why you look so radiant, you can tell them what you’re doing.
*Q: What do I do if a host/hostess/family member, etc. tries to PUSH more food on me when I don’t want anymore (p. 252)?
A: This person is NOT responding to your boundaries and does not have a right to pressure you. Say “No, thank you” firmly. Say that you’re full and don’t want to feel uncomfortable. Remember, your intuitive signals are what count, and you need to honor them.