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  • Writer's picturePaige Smathers

Intuitive Eating Isn't the Goal

My clients and podcast listeners will often reach out to me and report that they’re sad they haven’t been better at eating intuitively. They lament that they occasionally fall back into the dieting mentality, fail to perfectly honor hunger and fullness, or fall short in finding satisfaction at meals.

I totally understand where this sentiment is coming from and I empathize with feeling like you’re falling short, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to walk away from dieting. But, I do want to discuss these premises and unpack them a bit, and see if we can come out on the other side of this post feeling a little better about understanding what the goals are in doing intuitive eating work.

The goal with doing intuitive eating work—whether you’re in recovery from an eating disorder or you’re walking away from chronic dieting—isn’t to become an intuitive eater. If you’ve read the book and you’re thinking of the principles as a new checklist to judge whether or not you’re “good” or “on the right track” you’re going to continue to feel like you’re coming up short. In my opinion, intuitive eating is a framework that helps you figure out how to approach food, eating and health in a way that’s truly life-affirming and positive. And, positive, healthy self-care will look different from person to person, and that’s okay. When we use intuitive eating as a rubric for our worthiness, it’s really no different from dieting.

So, the goal isn’t intuitive eating. Intuitive eating (and other schools of thought like mindfulness, Health at Every Size, etc.) can be useful as frameworks to work from. Ultimately, we’re just trying to live our best lives and learn to care for ourselves in a way that promotes wellbeing. We’re not trying to be intuitive eaters, we’re trying to take great care of ourselves nutritionally. We’re trying to create behaviors, thought patterns and self-care that’s in alignment with what matters most to us.

The only way to feel confident in where you land with your beliefs and patterns around food and eating and to allow yourself to feel free from nutritional dogma, you have to know yourself. So, this work is about so much more than learning principles of intuitive eating, it’s about learning more about yourself, and then making skillful choices that make you feel your best.

So, use what you learn from me and others in the intuitive eating space as a framework to discover what’s best for you. The goal isn’t to become an intuitive eater, the goal is to eat in a way that’s in alignment with your values and that’s makes you feel great. And, in order to do that, you have to learn about yourself. This is about learning more about yourself so you're able to care for yourself well; it's not about being "perfect" at following rules.


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