A few months ago I went back to Step 1 of intuitive eating. What does that mean? Well, it involved the need to let go of restrictions AGAIN. This podcast feels important to share with you, because it’s my own personal journey. Maybe it will encourage you to get started, validate what you’er already doing, or even reassure you that you’re not doing anything “wrong”.
If you’re just getting started on your journey and want to know more about first steps, I’d love for you to join the Food Freedom and Body Confidence Challenge! It’s completely free, and provides and audio training and homework assignment every day. Looking for more? You’re invited to check out my signature course, Quit Dieting for Good! From a monthly membership, an amazing community, and awesome coaching calls — this is an amazing resource for women who know they are ready to quit dieting and let go of restrictions once and for all!
Let Go of Restrictions
Last July when I moved back to the US with my family, I had to make some adjustments. There were so many food options we hadn’t had access to, and so many things I wanted to try! After a few months I felt like was settled back in….and then I had another round of desire for foods that I hadn’t been able to have for awhile. In addition to increased access, there’s so much more convenience in the US as well!
For example, things like takeout (which wasn’t super great and was really high priced) weren’t very common in Switzerland.
So for me, a big move created a life change. And as a result, I had to relearn to let go of some restrictions.
For you, it might be pregnancy, a new job, or some other life change.
Don’t be afraid to check in with yourself and your beliefs and listen to your body. Maybe you’ve created “new” rules about food that you will or won’t eat, but it’s been awhile since you’ve really checked in with yourself.
If you realized that eating a lot of bread doesn’t make you feel great, you may have decided you feel better not eating bread. That’s great! But after a while that can start to become a new restriction under the guise of intuitive eating. It’s okay to try bread again; a different kind, a different variety, a different quantity might actually be great!
Allowing Food’s I Didn’t Even Love
Moving back to the US inspired me to try all sorts of foods again! And rather than try to stifle those desires, I gave myself the freedom to do so. Even for foods that I was pretty sure I didn’t like, or had never really loved – I had freedom to try them out all over again.
As I listened to my body and reflected on my experience, I realized that some of my initial food choices may have been fueled by my own reaction to diet culture. In Switzerland, there wasn’t nearly as much conversation about dieting, or pressure to be dieting. But back in the US….it was a whole different story!
As an intuitive eating who was absolutely NOT dieting….I was pretty eager to eat my daily chocolate and consume whatever I wanted. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t checking in with my body quite as often. It was just a reminder to myself that intuitive eating is truly about your own body and needs. And I needed to remind myself that I am safe to eat anything, at any time. Just because I’m in a more diet-centric culture doesn’t mean I’m going to get pulled back into the dieting world!
Fun (Restriction Free) Food Experiences
I have been reminded how much I LOVE bagels with cream cheese. (“Everything” bagels with cream cheese, tomato, and red onion are my go-to order.) Our first few months back in the states, I was getting bagels multiple times a week. Now I eat them a few times a month. I still love them, but I also know I can eat them anytime, so there’s less urgency to consume them as frequently.
American baked goods are another fun favorite! In Switzerland you can’t get baked goods (like chocolate chip cookies) very many places. And when I did have them, they just weren’t as good. So now that I’m back, I’ve enjoyed some phenomenal chocolate chip cookies, as well as amazing brownies! So good. Does my body prefer to run off baked goods alone? Nope! I’m not eating them at every meal, and I’m not even eating them nearly as much as when we first moved back. By giving myself free rein to experience them again, however, I’ve been able to find a balance that has felt really good for me and my body. (Funny enough, I thought I remembered loving those giant Costco muffins, but it turns out I actually don’t. Glad I gave myself permission to try them out though!)
A few more fun ones?
Deli sandwiches! My husband and I had both missed those, and we enjoyed quite a few in our first weeks back. And Mexican food! As Californians, we missed Mexican food a lot while we were in Europe. (My husband is still enjoying multiple burritos a week!) American burger joints are also so different here. They are way more affordable, and I definitely missed them!
On a regular basis, I don’t love Hershey kisses. And in Switzerland, I developed quite a refined chocolate palette. (I love chocolate!) However, I’ve found that there is something about Hershey kisses in holiday desserts that is super nostalgic and fun. So even though I don’t necessarily love them from a taste perspective….I do love them for the memories they stir up for me. Nostalgia can be a wonderful reason to enjoy a certain kind of food.
Not all of those foods made me feel great. I realized that some foods don’t work very well in my body in large quantities; balance is important! Most of those foods work in smaller quantities, and I enjoy them that way.
Fullness Factors and Other Shifts
When I was first starting intuitive eating, learning to let go of restrictions was a starting point. I didn’t have an entire foundation and years of practice under my belt yet! So even though I was back at Step 1…it wasn’t the same as starting over completely. I find myself reminding my clients of that truth sometimes! When you take some time to revisit earlier steps, you return with more of an understanding of how your body works. And that means even the first steps are experienced differently the second (or third) time around!
For example, a big change for me was knowing my own fullness factor. Intuitive eating has really helped me know when my body has had enough of something. When I was on Step 1 for the first time, I didn’t really know that yet! But now, I do. I’m not coming off of a diet mindset that has me trying to eat a lot of something “bad” while promising to be “good” the next day. This time around, I was able to enjoy smaller amounts of anything (food can’t be bad or good, after all!) without finding myself feeling overfull.
This time around I slowly tried all the foods, and had a lot of fun letting them all be allowed. I never really had that gross feeling of having gone all out and really binged or over-eaten on anything. If it had happened it would have been okay, but it didn’t. That’s probably because I really do know my body a lot better, and I was more tuned in to how things were making me feel, even as I was enjoying them.
Letting Myself Have Freedom
When we first came back, I definitely had some fun visiting Target and buying some cheap (but super cute!) clothes. The access and affordability were so different from what we had in Switzerland, and I enjoyed making purchases I couldn’t have made there. (Same with using Amazon Prime, which we didn’t have overseas!)
But after a bit I wanted to return to my more sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Those are things I value, and I didn’t want to lose them just because it was easier to access more things here in the US. It’s not about “not allowing” myself; it’s about knowing what really matters to me and choosing to honor that.
From baked goods, Target runs, nail salons, and Amazon — I’m giving myself permission to have (or try) anything. I trust myself to listen to my body, to honor my values, and to check in with my own belief systems.
Going back to the first step of intuitive eating helped me remember how much freedom I have; all I have to do is choose to let go of restrictions! As I return to my regular routines of cooking more at home and eating more of my regular foods, I’ll continue to check in with myself (mentally, emotionally, and physically) to make sure I’m taking good care of my full self!