“Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or become unhealthy, from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.” -Evelyn Tribole, “Intuitive Eating”
The final principle of Intuitive Eating is “honor your health- gentle nutrition.”
As we have been breaking down the ideas behind intuitive eating principles, my hope is that it feels much different from rigid, diet-mentality driven eating approaches you may have had previous experiences with.
Eating is meant to be enjoyed, not just to sustain life! This principle involves how your eating can be both enjoyable and sustaining.
It’s last for a reason:
The principle of gentle nutrition is, interestingly enough, not the first principle of Intuitive Eating, but the very last. That may seem quite un-intuitive at first, but as you review the principles of Intuitive Eating below, do you notice anything?
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honor Your Hunger
3. Make Peace with Food
4. Challenge the Food Police
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
6. Fell Your Fullness
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
8. Respect Your Body
9. Movement – Feel the Difference
10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition
Honoring your health through learning how to gently nourish yourself is last because you can’t effectively do that without having a secure foundation built through the first nine steps. This step requires some awareness of how this crazy world we live in has impacted your relationship with food and your body. It requires having put some work into healing those relationships. It’s not just physical work- but mental and emotional as well. Skipping any of those steps shortchanges the necessary process to be successful with intuitive eating!
It’s all about balance:
When you look at this principle, you can quickly see that it’s all about balance. The idea that you suddenly “pollute” your bodies when you don’t follow certain guidelines is really strict and rigid- and when you are working towards a balanced, flexible, non-obsessive relationship with food, there is no room for rigid, black and white thinking.
With that flexibility and balance in mind, start to examine your feelings and observations around eating. It might help to examine:
- What foods do I enjoy my experience eating?
- Do those foods leave me feeling well nourished?
- Do I want to keep feeling the way those foods result in feeling, or make some adjustments/try new things?
- Am I eating a balanced, flexible assortment of foods?
- Is there room to be curious about new foods?
When we have really mastered this principle, we will be prioritizing how we experience eating in our own bodies above whatever the popular diet gurus or social media influencers are telling us our eating needs to look like. This step moves you away from that crazy-making, never ending chatter and towards honoring your own intuition that can bring healing and peace.