• Emma Green

How to make peace with food


This is the third principle of Intuitive Eating was that is covered in the book by the same name by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This is about embracing food neutrality, rather than labelling foods as good or bad.⠀ The food you put off limits is the food you are most likely to eventually eat in large quantities. Food becomes a lot more appealing when you tell yourself you can’t have it. We know this anecdotally as well as from research. Studies on restrained eaters (those with rules about food) eat much more of a ‘bad’ food after being presented with it in a research study than those without rules around food. Researchers told participants it was a taste test and then let them eat as much as they wanted afterwards. Restrained eaters think they have ‘messed up’ their eating if they eat something ‘bad’ and go onto eat large quantities regardless of satiety levels. This is known disinhibition or the ‘what the hell effect’. You’ve probably noticed this phenomenon anecdotally too.⠀ It’s important to be honest with yourself about the foods you actually like. You can easily condition yourself to think that we only like ‘clean foods’ but that’s rarely the case. Rather than eating in a way to minimise guilt and anxiety, work on actively challenge the thoughts and beliefs you have around those foods.⠀ The final aspect of this is giving yourself permission. This is where people tend to have the most fear that they will ‘lose control.’ To be clear, if you have been restricting amounts of types of food then you may go through a period of eating certain foods in large amounts but this doesn’t last. ⠀ If you allow yourself to eat all foods, they become neutral and you can eat them in an amount that feels good for you, rather than feeling compelled to eat them in large amounts following a period of restriction. We know this from research too, it’s known as habituation. ⠀ When you don’t have anxiety, guilt or judgment about it, eating becomes a lot more enjoyable. You deserve that!

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