Updated: Aug 27
Intuitive Eating is all about healing a distorted relationship to food and our bodies. As a holistic nutritionist and Intuitive Eating Counselor in Michigan, I’ve both witnessed and experienced this restoration and know that it is possible. Part of initiating this change is challenging the way things are done.
Principle #3: Make Peace With Food
You may already believe that you and food have made peace. Or maybe you saw that principle and it filled you with apprehension.
It can be frightening to give up your food rules, even though it’s beneficial to do so.
Believing that there are “good” and “bad” foods will set you up for a continuous cycle of restriction, overeating, and shame.
Restriction of certain foods or food groups leads to deprivation or feelings of deprivation. Anything that is “forbidden” or restricted then increases in desirability and cravings. Often this manifests in bingeing or overeating behavior.
Changing what you believe about food can set you free from this cycle. The following are just a few types of eating that can occur from feelings of deprivation (Tribole, E. and Resch, E. 2020):
“Last Supper” Eating: When you believe you will never have this food again as part of a restrictive diet or food rules. You load up on all of the future forbidden food to give yourself “one last experience” with it.
Food Competition: Rushing to eat as much as you can because you don’t know that you’ll get all that you want and be satisfied.
Returning Home Syndrome: When you are away at college or another location where you can’t access foods that are familiar or comforting….and then you eat as much as you can when it becomes accessible again.
Empty Cupboard: We see this where there is food insecurity or inconsistent shopping. When you DO have access to food, you eat as much as you can because you’re not sure when you’ll get another meal.
Once in a Lifetime: Have you ever been on a trip and the food was so decadent and delicious you didn’t want to stop eating because you just KNOW you’ll never get it again? This type of eating is almost akin to FOMO-you want to experience it while you can.
Depression-Era: This is often illustrated by the habit of cleaning your plate, even if you’re full.
There are several other different types of eating that are triggered by restriction and deprivation. They all tend to leave you feeling miserable and ashamed.
Unfortunately, this shame tends to increase food consumption.
Making peace with food is the key to escaping this cycle.
This looks like:
Shifting out of thinking foods are good or bad
Eating what you actually want…not what the Food Police tell you that you “should” eat
Not restricting calories later so you can indulge now
All foods belong and all food choices are EQUAL to one another.
When you truly give yourself permission to have what you want, in the quantity you want, at the time of day you want, your cravings will lessen. You learn that foods don’t actually hold morality.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the authors of Intuitive Eating, say that “Legalizing food is the critical step in changing your relationship with food (Tribole, E. and Resch, E. 2020. P.116).”
Tribole and Resch outline a list of five steps to making peace with food:
Pay attention to what appeals to you. Make a list of all of these foods.
Mark the foods you already allow yourself to consume and put a circle by those foods that you don’t allow yourself to eat.
Start with one food from your forbidden list and then go get it. You can buy it from the store or go get it from the restaurant.
Mindfully try your food. Is it satisfying? Does it taste good? If so, work toward giving yourself permission to keep this food on hand.
Repeat this process with the other foods on your list.
All change, even good change, can be scary. You might be afraid to learn to make peace with food for a number of reasons.
Part of my role as a holistic nutritionist and Intuitive Eating coach is to compassionately listen and help you confront the fears you hold. These fears likely started when you began being inundated with messaging from diet culture and those who have a diet mentality, and they won’t disappear overnight. Be patient with yourself. You deserve it.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin's Essentials.
Katie Valley is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor whose goal is to dispel the myths of diet culture and reinforce a holistic, health-focused approach to wellness. After her own experience with disordered eating and poor body image, Katie found true healing by practicing Intuitive Eating and Body Acceptance.
Now she has her own practice, Katie Valley Wellness, where she helps women who feel out of control around food learn to eat intuitively, pursue TRUE health, & feel confident in their own body.