How Intuitive Eating Helped Me Live More Intuitively

Woman eating salad while sitting at table outdoors
Photo: Thinkstock/guruXOOX

Attempting to eat intuitively in a diet-obsessed culture is like trying to meditate in the middle of a rock concert. In the digital age we live in, we are constantly permeated by often contradicting messages depicting what is deemed to be “healthy” in terms of food, movement and body image. These contradicting messages can lead to an extreme state of mind — “black and white” messaging around food, movement and general wellness — that can be incredibly detrimental to our health, both physical and mental, and our overall happiness.

Growing up with advanced technology and the conception of social media platforms meant having to navigate mixed messages about health and wellness. When making daily decisions about my health, it always came down to what I thought I should do to achieve an unrealistic image of health as opposed to what I wanted to do according to my own intuition. I formed restrictions and created unreasonable rules due to the diet mentality, which ultimately prevented me from doing many of the things I truly loved. I was not living.

In my internship experience, I learned about a practice called intuitive eating. This practice is based on ten principles that focus on rejecting the diet mentality, listening to your biological hunger and fullness cues, challenging the “food police,” respecting your body and truly honoring your health with gentle nutrition. Gentle nutrition means making food choices that honor your health and taste buds while helping you feel well. Intuitive eating allows for moderation — finding your own unique balance when it comes to food and movement — as opposed to the “black and white” thinking of extremism.

As I gradually integrated these principles into my lifestyle, I found body acceptance and an enjoyable relationship with food, free from restriction.  I felt an overwhelming yet liberating sense of freedom. I started pouring my heart and energy into my relationships and life experiences, and I can eagerly say that I am the happiest I’ve ever been.

Brittney Olson
Brittney Olson is a dietetic intern at Missouri State University. She enjoys intuitive eating, joyful movement, kale salad, and bacon cheeseburgers. She hopes to open a private practice someday focusing on her interests in eating disorders, intuitive eating, and nutrition for athletes.