By Sophia Ntovas of SophiaNtovas.com
Okay babes, I gotta start by prefacing that I’m not one to preach cancel culture. I think it’s suuuper draining and quite frankly just negative–except when it comes to dieting. Oh, we can cancel that immediately. Like now. Starting RIGHT now…anybody in?
Over the past few decades, the media has highlighted dieting as the way to “healthy” and “happy” living. From celebrity endorsements to the rise of social media, the diet craze has evolved–but never disappeared. It’s so embedded into our daily lives that we idealize health as something that comes with restrictive eating. How in any way was, or has nutritional deprivation ever been, healthy? The time for change is overdue. Like way, way overdue.
So, let’s talk about intuitive eating. Its definition is just as it sounds! Intuitive eating is the process of trusting our bodies as to which foods satiate us and make us feel good in our skin without labeling certain foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’. As you probably already guessed, this is in direct opposition to calorie counting. No tracking your macros or calories, but simply eating until we feel full. While it still takes awareness to know when your tum is full and happy, intuitive eating completely revitalizes your relationship with food.
I’ll admit, I didn’t always subscribe to intuitive eating. In fact, I was the poster child for calorie counting. And even worse, it started when I was only 16 years old. I became increasingly aware of my body in comparison to others’ bodies and wanted a change. So I started tracking–breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, even the pieces of gum I ate. I was exercising 5 days a week, and honestly, I had never been more exhausted. I would wonder, “why do I have such little energy?”, but never attributed it to the types and amounts of foods I was eating. I was eating healthy! “Must just not be enough sleep”, I told myself.
Not only were my energy levels changing, but so was my relationship with food. Slowly but surely, I feared anything that looked like a carb. It all came to a head when I went out to dinner with my family. At this point, all of my meals consisted of salads, hard-boiled eggs, handfuls of nuts…you get the idea. However, on this particular night I was craving a burger. I mean foaming at the mouth type of craving. When the waiter came around to take my order, I stopped.
I couldn’t do it.
The fear of getting “fat” from a food that wasn’t considered ‘healthy’ overtook me. Instead I ordered a salad and ate quietly. I looked around at everyone else’s plates and was filled with raging envy. I internally debated with myself, “No, no, you’re doing the right thing. You’re being healthy!”
But I wasn’t being healthy, not at all. That night, I went home and I cried because my stomach wasn’t full and my heart was empty. This is when I realized something had to change.
Let me clear something up. I’m not endorsing that salads and veggies are bad, because nutritionally, they’re great for you! However, if you were like me and have been depriving yourself of that burger for fear of “messing up”, I’m here to tell you it is okay. You’re not messing anything up. Go eat that damn burger if that’s what your body wants.
Intuitive eating has allowed me to form a positive relationship with food. In fact, because I now enjoy food again, I have become motivated to learn more about what I am putting into my body and what makes me feel best. In this way, I use my knowledge as power. I focus on the amazing nutritional benefits to things I once shied away from. High fat foods–like avocados or peanut butter–to satiate me, carbs to give me long lasting energy, and proteins to keep me full. Not just nuts and hard boiled eggs, but a mix of anything and everything.
There is no ‘getting it right’ when it comes to intuitive eating. That’s the beautiful part! It’s fully subscribed to your body and needs. I challenge you to stop comparing, and simply start eating.