The ‘wellness’, ‘fitness’ and ‘health’ industry promise all you have to do is change what you ‘do’. Change your behaviour to reach your goals. Simple!
Here are some example of how they would have you change your behaviour.
Eat less often
Eat more ‘healthily’.
Eat more ‘filling’ foods.
Eat smaller portions.
Do more exercise.
Do different exercise.
Making changes, feels so easy (to begin with anyway) and bingo! the weight is lost and you are sorted forever.
If only this were true.
There is currently only one method on offer by the ‘wellness’ industries and even medics and that is the ‘behaviour-change’ method. You learn what to change and also why (which is meant to give you even more motivation) and you are helped to keep the changes going. This method can never be permanent because by making these ‘changes’ you are doing damage that means you are left with a permanent increase to your appetite.
Having a larger appetite means it takes more eating to satisfy you. And because eating is all about the achievement of satisfaction (more on this another time) this means you have to eat for other reasons other than physical hunger, you have to eat foods other than those the body needs for its physical nutrition, and you have to eat more food (energy) overall than your body physically needs. And when you have to do something if you try not to so it all hell is let loose.
In case you were wondering, having a normal appetite means you have to only eat for other reasons of physical hunger, you have to only eat foods that contain the nutrition the body physically needs, and have to only eat the food (energy) overall that your body physically needs.
So, when Intuitive Eating comes along as a proven system that works to making you only have to eat normally you also want it to be a simple (and ideally quick) fix just like the way you are used to by just changing what you are doing. But Intuitive EatingTM take the opposite approach to ‘making changes’. The ‘making changes’ approach says, “change your eating (and maybe also exercise) to create a negative energy balance and weight will be lost.”
‘Making changes’ is an outside-in approach. You are doing nothing to reduce your need to eat and everything to increase that need and you end up having to eat more and more.
Intuitive EatingTM is an inside-out approach. With this you are doing everything to change your need to eat. You are changing how much you have to eat. You, eventually, end up with a normal appetite – a normal need for food.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple solution to overeating. There just isn’t. Doing it the way you have always done it – by trying to eat differently and/or exercising – has landed you with the appetite – the need to eat – you have today.
The Long Game
It’s so normal to be impatient to want to ‘get things sorted out’ once you make the decision to start. But that’s talking the language of the ‘behaviour-change’ brigade. You are sold, get off to a great start and let’s not worry about how it will end up.
Intuitive EatingTM , on the other hand, gets off to a very difficult start. After all, we ask you to forget everything you know about eating and exercise. But difficult then becomes easier. And easier becomes, not only effortless, but subconscious.
People protest at the need for a more complex solution to overeating, because the one they have already know so well feels like it ought to work. They say:
“Surely eating better and/or exercising more can work if I just make moderate changes!?”
But no, even if you changed just one thing about your eating (or exercise) you are still changing your behaviour and so increasing your need for food in the end.
“There should be a simple solution to overeating!”
But if there was a simple solution, there would be one. And there isn’t. Overeating is complex and the solution is complex too (although it is actually really simple but it is so unfamiliar to you at the moment.)
“How can everyone be wrong about how to overcome overeating, all the eating and exercise programmes encouraging you to make the changes seem so feasible”
The answer to how everyone can be wrong is because everyone is wrong. Making changes increases appetite.
People feel depressed that good old changing behaviour is not the solution (let alone the fact that it is the cause of the problem in the first place) because they think. “It’s terrible that I’ve been spending all this time and effort (and money) on trying to maintain changes and it always back-fires!”
But the answer to that is, “Although it is highly inconvenient that you have been spending all this time, money and effort on trying to ‘do better’ it isn’t terrible. ‘Terrible’ means it will kill you, but it won’t. But shifting your focus entirely to a completely different system will make your life difficult for a while. It will demand some very difficult changes in thinking, not least to disconnect the eating (and exercise) from your weight and even your health. And this takes effort. It takes effort to change a thinking habit of a lifetime. Effort you don’t feel you have left in you because you’re exhausted from all the mis-directed effort trying to maintain behaviour changes and going around and around in circles and the old appetite bouncing back even stronger.”
You, rightly, think, “But, I deserve a rest!” And out of anyone, this is absolutely true. You have been mis-lead in the most unethical of ways. But you have one last effort to make to nail Intuitive EatingTM and then the rest of your life will be a permanent rest. All your wasted effort from the past can now be channelled into the things in your life that effort is meant for.
Intuitive EatingTM is a long-term cure for overeating which heals the damage done by trying to ignore your growing appetite by keeping a handle on your eating and /or exercising your eating errors away. Intuitive EatingTM shows significant improvements to both physical and mental health. For me, it was a cure to a life-long battle with food. But it takes years! Although the number of years it actually took to become an automatic intuitive eater pales into insignificance compared to the number of years I was trying to control my appetite.
If you are still looking for a quick fix (i.e. changing your behaviours and it will somehow make you want maintain those change) Intuitive EatingTM is not the option for you. Some say you have to reach ‘rock bottom’ to be able to accept that the behaviour-change approach will never work because it’s the cause of the problem. Rock bottom is where you are having to make a constant effort with your eating and exercise and your mental and physical health is suffering as a result. For some people it is more obvious and they are trying to stay on the straight and narrow one minute and binging the next. Some find the motivation to learn Intuitive EatingTM for their kids. They want to set them on the right road with eating and not let history repeat itself again because of not learning how the body can easily work in conjunction with the brain to keep us healthy without any effort.
If you feel ready, for whatever reason, and you want to learn how to teach your brain to teach your body to protect you against ever wanting to overeat, expect it to be a ‘journey’. It is the route to a permanently normal appetite rather than just another behaviour-change attempt cycle leaving you feel it was somehow your fault.
For a free consultation and discussion about how it is for you or your client, always without obligation, contact Alison Hall at Try Freedom.
Alison Hall is an Intuitive Eating counsellor and owner and founder of Try Freedom
There are now over 150 studies on Intuitive Eating showing benefit.
There is also a plethora of evidence of the wider topics of Interoceptive Awareness, Food Restriction/Dieting/Binge Eating/Inefficacy Harm from Weight Loss / Reactance Theory. Click below to see the science: