Breaking the diet-cycle with Intuitive Eating

ditch the diet

Simply put – dieting doesn’t work.

Though there is a little more to it than that really, but that's the gist of it. A much more sensible option is intuitive eating, which allows you have your cake and eat it.

A great book to introduce you to the principles of intuitive eating is Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary program that Works, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. The authors are both registered dietitians who practice what they preach and have been helping people for decades to reject the diet mentality and rediscover the joy of eating. It was great to see my thoughts on eating, and dieting, is supported by others who have been at this nutrition game a lot longer than I have been.

book cover

In our Western society we are obsessed with weight. We are constantly being told about the obesity epidemic and how we all need to stop eating this and that to be skinny. What is the obsession with being skinny? Why isn’t the focus on being fit and healthy? Why is a 6-pack, a pert butt and bulging biceps the goal? Or looking like a model? This isn’t only targeted at women either, men are now being told they have to measure up to someone else’s ideals. Well, guess what?! I am woman and I am strong! I have all the right curves in all the right places – for me. And not a 6-pack to be seen.

Thankfully we humans come in all shapes and sizes and colours. Imagine how dull and boring it would be if we were all the same? Yes, there are certain biological fundamentals that make us all pretty much the same. But at the end of the day what works for me to be fit and healthy won’t necessarily work for you or the person next-door.

There is so much misinformation about food and nutrition and what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for us. To me the only foods that are ‘bad’ are those that make you unwell. For me there is also a handful of ‘bad’ foods as I am an allergy sufferer. But I don’t stop others from eating them if they don’t affect them. ‘Good’ foods are those that leave me feeling nourished and satisfied. And that sometimes includes a Lamington with my cuppa tea.


So back to the "dieting doesn’t work" opening comment. It doesn’t. What I really don’t like about diets is that they basically set you up to fail, and then you feel guilty and round it goes. You find you can’t adhere to the strict rules and regulations of the diet. You break a rule, feel guilty, pig out, feel guiltier and like a failure. Then you vow to do better next time, and again you break a rule, feel guilty, pig out, feel guiltier and like a failure. All the while hating that you can’t enjoy sharing a friends birthday cake or celebration dinner or Nana’s cheese scones because if you indulge you will have broken the rules and the diet is shot – so you might as well pig out, and then you feel guilty… oh hell you’re stuck in a never ending cycle of misery! And life is too short for that s**t!

Intuitive eating is all about ignoring the fads and the food police and the latest trend on the internet; and listening to your body and what it wants to have you feeling fabulous! It is about a lifelong commitment to self-care, not just setting a target number (xx kilograms/pounds) to hit.

There are 10 principles to intuitive eating:

  • Reject diet mentality.
  • Honour your hunger.
  • Make peace with food.
  • Challenge the food police.
  • Tune into your body's fullness signals.
  • Discover the satisfaction factor.
  • Honour your feelings without food.
  • Respect your body.
  • Engage in joyful movement.
  • Honour your health with gentle nutrition.

They are the nearest things to ‘rules’ that you will get with this non-diet. Unlike a diet where you are restricted, deprived and judged; this is all about nourishment, satisfaction and empowerment. You don’t have to eat perfectly every day because it is what you do consistently over your lifetime that matters.

But there is more to being fit and healthy than the food you eat. There is also the importance of good physical, social and mental health. Exercise is good for our bodies, from building lean muscle for a good metabolism (and a strong heart) to strengthening our bones to helping with balance and posture. A good social structure, such as hanging with friends and family or joining a club or church group, provide us with support that nourishes our soul. And all of these come together, along with minimising stress and indulging in favourite past-times (reading a good book, pottering in the garden, walking along the beach at sunset) to help our mental well-being.

Remember you only get one body and one life. My message is that you should embrace looking after yourself and make sure you are well nourished and satisfied in all aspects to live your best life, whatever that may be.