Psychological Benefits of Intuitive Eating
In addition to the various physical health benefits that intuitive eating can provide, there are also a number of psychological benefits that can be seen when committing to intuitive eating. Let’s dive into some of those!
Benefit #1: Decreased Anxiety
Have you ever felt super anxious going to a gathering or party (good times pre-COVID) knowing there was going to be food there that you deemed “bad” but wanted? That is a feeling that unfortunately many people know too well. This increase in anxiety prevents you from truly being present and enjoying the people around you as well as yourself! As an intuitive eater, you can change this narrative. Let’s say you’ve been practicing intuitive eating and you have been invited to a party. You know there is going to be all different kinds of food - pizza, chips, cake, veggies, dip, etc. As an intuitive eater, you can go to the party with a whole new mindset and new set of coping skills to help lessen feelings of anxiety around food. As you continue on your intuitive eating journey and begin making peace with all foods and rejecting the diet mentality, you start to form the understanding that there’s no need to restrict yourself (cue the binge restrict cycle) from food you enjoy! You can leave the party feeling super satisfied knowing you enjoyed the foods you wanted and you can also leave happier knowing you were able to place your attention on the good time you were having rather than the foods you were eyeing. Over time, the decrease in anxiety around food will allow you to use your mental energy much more efficiently and free up a ton of brain space you never knew you had!
Benefit #2: Improved Body Image and Self Confidence
By taking the moral value out of food, a.k.a not seeing foods as “good” or “bad”, you inherently take the power away from food determining how you feel about your body. You start to see yourself in a much more positive light when you don’t have constant thoughts about positive or negative reactions when eating certain foods running through your head. Your confidence in yourself is going to increase when you eat intuitively because food no longer defines who you are as a person. Alissa Rumsey has a great section about this on her blog post titled 24 Benefits of Intuitive Eating. By trusting yourself to make decisions regarding food that you know will make you happy mentally and physically, you avoid that (all too well known, unfortunately) feeling of guilt after making a decision to eat something that diet culture tells you you shouldn’t! You will have more confidence that you are making the best choices you can for yourself and your body in return.
Benefit #3: Making room for your emotions
Principle #7 of intuitive eating tells us to honor our feelings without using food. This may be overwhelming as you may confront some emotions you’ve never fully dealt with before and That is OKAY!!! Some emotions can be very hard to feel at times but that’s all the more reason to face them and work through them. Over time, facing hard emotions with intention rather than food will allow you to be much more in touch with your psychological self. This method also allows you to get to the root of the emotion and understand it rather than try to suppress it. With all this being said, emotional eating isn’t always bad and being comfortable with intuitive eating will allow you to differentiate between when you want food for comfort and when it would be more helpful for you to deal with your emotions head-on. This benefit also relates back to what I said in the first benefit about being able to use your mental energy more efficiently. When you are able to take the stress and anxiety out of food and eating, you open up your mental space to more happiness, satisfaction, and calmness. There are many more things to feel when you have the mental space for it. That’s a good thing - FEEL THE FEELINGS!!!
To Wrap it all Up:
Intuitive eating is not always easy, and I always tell my clients that upfront. BUT knowing there are SO. MANY. mental and physical benefits, hopefully makes the hard work so worth it.
I am always here to be your Intuitive Eating guide and friend and help you achieve these three benefits, and more! Feel free to reach out at any time.