I want to share with you a little bit more about why intuitive eating may not be the best approach for you as an emotional eater.
I wanted to share more more on this topic because I find that when we are just discovering we’re an emotional eater, we try so many different methods and ways of moving through this pattern. That’s why we end up doing things like intuitive eating and still not finding that deeper solution.
I just want to preface this by saying I am not against intuitive eating. I think it is an amazing philosophy. There are some really good takeaways from it. But I think as a whole, it doesn’t address all of the key areas that we need to look at as an emotional eater. It doesn’t give us enough structure or guidance to help move through this pattern.
When I was moving through my own emotional eating journey, I started off not really knowing what was happening to me. I just thought I was out of control around food because I was constantly hungry. I tried all the typical things; the diets, exercise plans, nutritionist, a personal trainer and even therapy. I didn’t feel any better and swung to the other extreme where I threw all the rules out the window.
Nothing seemed to work. I didn’t know how to listen to my body. If you asked me what hunger felt like, I wouldn’t really know. I was just so sick of restricting myself with diets that I threw everything out the window.
This was back when intuitive eating was wasn’t really mainstream. I didn’t know what it was but looking back I implemented some of the strategies. I went from one extreme to the other extreme with food. Just allowing it all.
Swinging the Pendulum
When I speak to women who’ve done intuitive eating, it feels like they’re on that same trajectory. They’ve gone from one extreme of diet culture and rules to another extreme of completely throwing all the rules out the window and frantically trying to listen to their body.
We feel like if we throw out the rules, we just automatically know what to do. If we did automatically know what to do, we wouldn’t have been in the diet situation to begin with. When you’re an emotional eater we use food to distract ourselves from any uncomfortable emotion, from anything stressful in our life.
(Certain) foods act as legal drugs. We use food and processed foods to give us a high. A dopamine rush which boosts our mood and distracts us from what’s really going on.
That’s how I felt when I dropped everything and went to the other extreme. I felt really lost. But what made me realize something was off was that I didn’t feel good in my body. I wasn’t feeling healthy, I wasn’t feeling vibrant.
I felt the same way as before and I was like, “this is not a solution”.
I had to start from ground zero. I had to start figuring out what was going on for me. I had to start with baby steps. On this journey, I found out more about what was true hunger, what was emotional hunger.
Why would I just instantly eat so much food? Why? I started to play around with eating in a more nourishing way. Looking at what nutrition means to me, starting out slowly, adding in foods and meals and seeing how I felt. But it was always needing to come from a place of feeling like I was making that choice, that I wasn’t out of control.
This is something that’s important when you’re an emotional eater, because you spent so much of your life just feeling out of control around food and in your body.
When you go the intuitive route, you’re just allowing all of those cravings and desires and maybe you want to indulge. They’re all kind of in this big blob and you’re just going to eat/indulge without discernment. You probably won’t get the results that you’re looking for because you haven’t addressed the deeper root issues of what’s going on with your emotional eating.
Emotional eating is a coping mechanism. It’s a coping pattern. A coping pattern is something we develop when we feel there isn’t a true solution to what we’re going through.
This usually develops in childhood. This is what I see with my clients. There are unresolved emotions or unmet needs and there’s was no solution at the time. We feel this discomfort and this distress and we go towards food to soothe us, to make us feel good. Physiologically food does do that. If we don’t learn how to discern our emotional eating from actually desiring or wanting certain foods, we’re in this uphill battle.
Emotional eating is usually created out of a trauma, and a trauma is just an unresolved event. It can be something very small or what we consider small, like unmet emotional needs to something bigger, like the big-T traumas.
If you’re using food as a band aid then it’s hard to intuitively eat, because we’re not resolving that deeper layer of our emotional eating. To tune into your body and know what feels good. If we haven’t resolved our emotional eating what we think feels good and what actually feels good is a disconnect.
For example let’s say you ate a box of donuts, it’s going to taste good in the moment, but you’re probably going to get a tummy ache after.
There’s a discernment.
If you choose to eat it, you choose the consequence of it and you’re empowered all the way through, even with your tummy ache.
But if you choose it and then after you feel crappy and you feel like a failure and you’re still not getting ahead. There’s something off there. There’s a disconnect.
So this is why it’s important to have a structure and a flow when you’re moving through your emotional eating journey to be able to have more discernment.
I just see this time and time again with clients when I show them how to nourish their bodies, how to connect with their bodies and move through their emotions. They feel good. Not because I’m telling them to, and they think they should. They genuinely feel at ease. They feel good. They can feel the difference with how they’re nourishing themselves.
They can feel it in their energy, in their obsession with food or lack of obsession with food. And so that’s feedback telling us we’re going in the right direction. I want to share with you a little bit more about the structure and flow of how you can move through your emotional eating. Inside of The Emotional Eating Evolution Program, which is my step by step methodology and program that I guide clients through. We follow three main phases which helps us to start having a structure and a flow and developing our intuition.
If we have been disconnected from our bodies most of our lives and our society tells us to move away from our body, how do we expect ourselves to have this strong intuition? That’s something we develop.
Intuition is always growing. We’re always learning about it. Yes, we have an innate ability, but if it’s been squashed and squelched over time, we have to reconnect back to it.
Trauma and Intuition
If you’ve experienced trauma (unresolved events) you’re not going to be as connected to your body. We hold trauma and unresolved emotions in our body. It clogs us up. Layer by layer, we connect more and more to ourselves.
But through the program, there are touch points that help you connect and really discern what is working for you.
In the first phase of the program, which is true nourishment and strategic digestion. You start to discern true from emotional hunger. You also learn how to truly satisfy your hunger so that you’re eating in an abundant way that is going to satisfy you and not trigger binging because you’re not in restriction mode.
The meals are created in a way to so that it’s truly satisfying your hunger, but it’s also optimizing digestion. We have a body, we have biology, and we need to take that into account. Optimizing how we’re digesting is directly related to our mood. The better we digest, the more optimized our mood is going to be. The more optimized our mood is, the less likely we’re going to binge or emotionally eat.
The second area is more around body acceptance. So here you learn more about your biology and the rhythms of your body.
For example having an amazing nighttime ritual. We live in a certain world. We are inundated with lots of blue lights that trigger our brain that don’t help us get into deep rest and deep sleep and that will impact our hormones. Of course, nothing is rigid, each person will differ a bit different.
If you’ve been living a certain way for 30 years and going to bed a certain way, that feels “intuitive” to you. But when you try something different, you’re going to see how different you feel and you’re going to notice a difference.
With body acceptance a lot of the times we are trying diets and emotionally eating, we have this poor relationship to our body.
We need to rebuild our body acceptance and even our true innate worth that is beyond our body. So this is what we do here, so we can reduce those physical and emotional triggers to emotional eating.
In the third area, we’re looking at the emotions under the emotional eating pattern. What triggers are there? What’s really creating this pattern for you?
Once we move through the first two phases, we’re now getting into the true emotions, the traumas, and unresolved emotions that are triggering this pattern.
We are working with emotions in the body processing and resolving this pattern. This transforms the pattern so that you can move forward in a powerful way that’s going to meet your true needs.
Because using food as a band aid is not meeting your true needs.
As we work through the 3 phases above, this is how we dissolve the emotional eating pattern and this is how we start connecting back to food, our body and our emotions. This is what grows our intuition as we dissolve the emotional eating pattern.
If you still feel like you’re in that pattern, you haven’t resolved the deeper issues. This is what I love to do with clients and what ends up happening is you end up having “true” intuitive eating.
It’s not just intuitive eating as it’s branded out there. It’s a true intuitive eating because you’re dropping into the deeper layers. You’re resolving the emotional eating coping mechanism and pattern.
You have choice, autonomy and sovereignty and this is what makes you feel at ease, confident and at peace in your body and around food.
If you are ready to resolve your emotional eating, I would love to invite you to find out more about The Emotional Eating Evolution Program here. You can also book in an Emotional Eating Assessment call here. On the call we find out more about you, where your goals are and how we can support you in the program.
To true intuitive eating,
Certified Holistic Nutritionist + Emotional Eating Expert