This is the first of a series of (hopefully) regular posts I’ll be doing on Intuitive Eating for Beginners. They’ll all get their own page once their done, and to follow progress make sure you look at the category “Intuitive Eating for Beginners”. It’s taken me a long time to work out what to say and how to say it, thus the radio silence on my part.

My first step in beginning an intuitive eating journey is PERMISSION.
You have to allow yourself to do whatever you want in the food world otherwise your issues will still haunt you.

You are allowed to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, in whatever portion you want. Food is just food, no matter what you think you know about it. There is nothing inherently wrong with anything, so therefore you can eat anything edible. Even if you have a food intolerance or allergy, ultimately it is still your choice whether to eat that food or not. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. And a choice. Only you can decide what to do.

You are allowed to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, in whatever portion you want.

Permission is crucial in calming you down around food because it banishes the diet police and food analysis that always plays out in your brain. I hear you cry, “Well I will just eat brownies all day if I let myself eat truly what I want and how much”, or “That way of eating is not good for you!”. I say no to both these statements.

Firstly, what you eat is temporary, and what you want to eat varies day-to-day. If you give yourself complete permission to eat everything, then nothing becomes that important, and you can eat without thinking about it. And the draw of eating brownies everyday goes away because you can then say “Meh it’s just a brownie” rather than “I CAN’T MUST EAT BROWNIES! WANT!”. I hope you get my point.

On the second argument, it is good for you, because it is healing your messed up relationship with food. It stops the cycle of stress, poor nutrition and emotional blackmail that dieting and food rules cause, which are definitely not good for you! If you are unhappy with your food lifestyle you are definitely not healthy!

Eating nutritious and not-so-nutritious foods in balance are the key. And balance is achieved by giving yourself room and ABSOLUTE PERMISSION to explore your food preferences, whatever they may be. And allowing yourself to feel afterwards, emotionally and physically.

Giving yourself permission goes hand-in-hand with banishing shame and guilt from the eating process. If you allow yourself to eat however you want to, then what is there to feel guilty or ashamed about? But we can tackle guilt and shame as a separate topic later if you like.

So how to actually give yourself permission?
1. Say it out loud. “I give myself permission to eat however I choose to”
2. Eat what you want and keep saying it whenever you eat, however scared you feel. Especially when you feel scared.
3. Say it every time a negative belief about food comes up.
4. If it gets too bad, explicitly ask yourself if you can have something that you want to eat, then shout “YES!! I can eat this whenever I want.”.

I hope this helps.
FYI here are two more eloquent posts on the subject:
The Fat Nutritionist
Isobel Foxen Duke