Ep. #117: My Intuitive Eating Journey, Part 1

Last week I shared my own dieting story! This week, I want to share more about my intuitive eating journey. I especially want to share about the beginning phases; I’m spilling all the details! My intuitive eating journey spans two babies, an international move, starting a business and more. It has changed, grown, and come right along with me through it all. That’s one of the reasons I often remind people that intuitive eating is extremely sustainable! (Not always easy….but definitely sustainable.) Like any other self-discovery journey, there are good days and bad. Intuitive eating, however, remains the best way I’ve found to live my fullest life!

Real quick: The Quit Dieting for Good program is open! I’ve been running it over 4 years now, and it’s changed the lives of so many participants. You’re invited to join us at any time. You can learn more HERE. This is for anyone — women who have already been on the journey solo, and women who are getting started!

2014: The Start of My Intuitive Eating Journey

In May of that year, I was sick of dieting. My husband and I had a ton of upcoming travel plans, and I wanted to be able to do it all and enjoy it! That meant I had to be able to eat sustainably (not binge on vacation and come home and do yet another juice fast).

After a bit of looking, I came across an intuitive eating course and gave it a shot. As a result, I started to see it was possible to enjoy food and love my body without restrictions.

An early experience I remember was having dinner and dessert with a friend, and then meeting up with other friends for drinks. There was a dessert at the table, and I was offered some. If you know me at all, you know I LOVE dessert. Normally I would have been all about it….but because of intuitive eating I realized I legitimately didn’t want more dessert in that moment. I was satisfied with what I had already had, and I just wanted to enjoy champagne with my friends. So I passed….something I would have never done before my intuitive eating journey.

I also noticed that when I went out with my husband to an Italian place, I ordered pasta and enjoyed half of it. Not because I felt like I “had” to restrict anything, but because I felt full and was done.

The Daily Bread

During this time, I also started to enjoy a local bakery that I had avoided my entire first year in Switzerland! They were literally called The Daily Bread (in French), and obviously their main trade was bread. During my dieting years I had thought of bread as “bad” and was used to not allowing myself to enjoy it.

My intuitive eating journey helped me come to realize that I can absolutely enjoy bread in a way that feels good for me and my body. No rules necessary! Little changes like this opened my eyes to just how restricted and guilt ridden I had been for SO long!

My intuitive eating journey also gave me newfound confidence in myself and my intuition. Once I started trusting myself around food, I realized I could trust myself in other areas as well. It felt so good! In fact, I started literally standing taller. (A man in my yoga teacher training commented on it because he noticed the change in me.) Even though nothing major had changed about me and my body, my confidence and energy did change….and it changed how I stood and moved through the world.

Sensitivity & Eating Rules

Part of intuitive eating is about eating foods that feel right for your body. I was eating to fuel myself, and losing the guilt and shame that had long been wrapped up in food choices.

Around this time, a number of people I knew were taking food sensitivity tests. Since I wanted to give my body the best and nourish her well, it seemed like a good choice, so I took one too. Although I took it from the right place….it also messed with my mind a little bit!

The test said I was highly sensitive to eggs, pineapple, oats, gluten, and dairy. Because of that, I started almost cutting them out completely. I was pretty hard core (something I had done before with Whole 30). It was hard! Shortly after, I went back to the US for a wedding, and got a lot of comments about my weight loss. I told them about intuitive eating and yoga teacher training….and also my food insensitivity testing.

In retrospect, I was still pretty steeped in diet culture. I was really excited my weight loss, and I was also still weighing myself pretty often. My worth was still too tied to the number on the scale, and I was more impacted by “rules” and restrictions than I realized.

Eventually, I started to experiment more with “sensitivities”. What I learned from my body was that many of those foods were just fine in my body. (I have a friend who is a dietitian who has also shed a lot of light for how inaccurate they are!) Following my intuition and listening to my body was more accurate than the tests.

2015: The Artist’s Way

My early intuitive eating journey had a lot of connections to feeling good in my body. I was able to move, enjoy foods that tasted good, travel, and otherwise practice self-care. (Because of our international move I still wasn’t cleared for working, so I had lots of time for all that!)

I also discovered The Artist’s Way (by Julia Cameron). It’s a 12 week program in the form of workbook and daily exercises, like Morning Pages. Every morning, first thing, you’re encouraged to write in order to bring out things you might not have been fully aware of. If you do it consistently, you really learn a lot about yourself!

You’re also encouraged to do a weekly Artist’s Date. This could be anything enjoyable you wanted to do with yourself. It might be a walk in the park, a trip to a museum, or anything that might strike your fancy. (I did a whole episode on how to date yourself!) Learning to enjoy your company increases your self-confidence, which is amazing! I believe some of these practices gave me the self-awareness to know I wanted to be a health coach, and the confidence to pursue it.

Getting Pleasure From Food

With a few free days that fall, I was able to go to small hotel for a personal getaway. During that time, in addition to practicing tons of self-care, I was also reading French Women Don’t Get Fat. NOTE: Some of this is still a part of diet culture. However, it also focuses on learning how to get pleasure from food. One of the practices she suggested was sitting with your food with no other distractions. I LOVE that practice, and recommend my clients try it as well. (However, I do NOT recommend the “leek cleanse”!)

I found myself getting more satisfaction from my food, and also being more aware of what it felt like when my body was full.

My Morning Pages, self-care, and experiences of food as pleasure all led me towards the next part of my intuitive eating journey: becoming a health coach! I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), made some calls, asked my questions, and enrolled!

While I loved the program, I would note that they also teach you about all the diets on the market. Although it was a holistic approach that focused on how unique each person is, it was still sometimes tempting to try to the various diets we learned about it. And of course, many of those diets focused on weight loss, which is almost always a topic of interest when discussing food plans and diets.

In spite of some of the diet-focus, I did enjoy the program and all that I learned. (I’m also glad I continued my own intuitive eating education beyond that, however!)

Real Food First

My first coaching offer was a 4-week meal plan called Real Food First. However….in retrospect I realized that Real Food First was based on the end of my intuitive eating journey, not the beginning!

I didn’t quite have the confidence to teach and share about the process, and meal plans felt a lot safer. Now, however, I love working with women on the process part of their own intuitive eating journeys. Although I’m glad that I took the chance to start something new, I’m also really glad that I pivoted into my true passion: intuitive eating!

Stay tuned to learn more about that part of my intuitive eating journey has unfolded next week!

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