Yes you heard me! There is an actual national day for eating what you want… If you really think about it, it seems such a shame that we have got to the point where food restriction, dieting and eating has so many rules that we need a day just to relax from that!
As somewhat a reply to this ‘diet culture’ society we live in, the concept of intuitive eating is becoming more prevalent in the media at the moment and it’s a way of becoming more at peace with the foods that you eat and more ‘in sync’ with the body that you live in.
Intuitive eating has 10 main principles which are:
DITCH DIET CULTURE
Over the years it is likely that we have all been fed lies online, in newspapers or even from those around us about what we should and shouldn’t be eating. So many people waste their lives being on a ‘diet’ that never work in the long run and are often associated with negative health consequences (both mental and physical). Some tools might keep you held into this diet culture mentality so it might be that it’s time to say goodbye to things like ‘My Fitness Pal’ app or even your fitbit…
HONOUR YOUR HUNGER
It sounds obvious but do we always eat when we are hungry? Many people find accomplishment from skipping meals or going to bed hungry but this principle is all about respecting your normal biological drive to eat. This stage is learning what it actually feels like to be hungry and to nourish for body (and mind!) with food when you need it.
CHALLENGE THE FOOD POLICE
The food police is that little voice in your head that says things like ‘You shouldn’t eat that’ or ‘You will need to do an extra workout to allow yourself that meal’. During this step you need to start changing your attitude towards food and notice (and try to neutralise) both your own and others charged language around food
MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD
This principle is about letting go of ‘food rules’. Forget about labelling food as ‘bad’. Food is food and start letting go of the rules that you have given yourself around what you can and what you ‘cannot’ eat.
FEEL YOUR FULLNESS
Another obvious sounding principle but when was the last time you stopped eating when you were comfortably full? It’s quite likely that if you have been part of the diet mentality for a while you may find yourself overeating at certain times as your body tries to get as much as possible in because it isn’t too sure when it is going to eat again! Listen to your signs that your full, respect them in the knowledge that food is available for you at any time to want to eat again.
DISCOVER THE SATISFACTION FACTOR
The fun bit! Enjoy!! Get back to grips with the flavours and choose the foods that really nourish your body and mind. In the past diet culture has encouraged ‘fat free’ ‘flavour free’ products where you often over eat because it isn’t really doing it for you. You are often much better off going for the full fat tasty version which will satisfy you more and you are less likely to over eat
EATING YOUR EMOTIONS
By this point in your intuitive eating journey, you’ll start having more neutral feelings towards food and can start to get your head around the fact that emotional eating isn’t actually the worst thing in the world and can sometimes be a useful coping mechanism or your body’s way of letting you know that things aren’t right. At this point though its also really valuable to develop more appropriate ways to soothe, comfort, and care for ourselves to give us more options within our stress relief toolbox!
RESPECT YOUR BODY
This is where things start to get exciting and you’ll begin the totally radical act of LOVING YOURSELF. Stop determining your value based on what you’ve eaten or how much you’ve moved. If loving yourself is too much, you can think about increasing body respect and neutrality and learning to be OK with where you are.
In the same way that we’ve been disconnected from eating, we rely more and more on workout programmes, fitness trackers, and weight to determine how we feel physically. Intuitive movement is about finding joy in activity – whether it’s taking a low impact yoga class, going for a walk, or training for a marathon – finding activity that doesn’t leave you drained and exhausted is a critical part of the process.
This is all about nourishing your body with foods that taste good and leave you feeling awesome. You don’t have to eat a ‘perfect’ diet to be healthy and nutrition isn’t all or nothing. Again it’s about getting to grips with the fact that foods aren’t good or bad and even if foods aren’t nutritionally rich they can still nourish the soul!
So maybe today could be the day where you start taking notice and follow some of the principles of intuitive eating. Start working towards getting to that place where you eat what you want because you know what will make you feel good both physically and mentally.
In your head ‘Eat what you want day’ might be about eating foods that are normally something the ‘Food Police’ resist or it might be treating yourself to going to that expensive restaurant that you have always wanted to go to but have never allowed yourself to go to.
Start to get more comfortable in listening to your hunger signs as well as the signs which tell you you’re comfortably full.
Becoming an intuitive eater isn’t something that happens overnight but it is a journey about re-learning about foods and slowly forgetting the rules and regulations that diet culture unfairly taught you.
You deserve every day to be ‘Eat what you want day’ because food is a huge part of our lives and should be something that we enjoy and choose because we know that in that moment that meal or snack is what we need to nourish ourselves physically and mentally.
So in celebration of this ‘Eat what you want day’ I am off to enjoy a beautiful spa day and afternoon tea with my amazing family. I hope you have a lovely day too!