Jenna Petersen, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
March 1, 2021
The statement, “I feel out of control around food” can mean different things to different people.
I feel like I can’t stop eating at night.
I don’t know why I want to eat everything in sight.
When I eat a snack, I end up eating enough for a meal. How can I stop?
I don’t want anyone else to see me eating.
I feel so guilty after eating such a large amount of food.
I don’t know how to know when enough food is enough.
I feel disgusting after I’m done eating.
I can’t stop eating even after I’m uncomfortably full.
Do any of these resonate? If so, the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating can help you take steps towards having a relationship with food that is less out-of-control, but not because you’re restricting.
Sound awesome? Read on.
The Principles of Intuitive Eating that most relate to the concept of out-of-control eating are Principle 2 – Honor Your Hunger, Principle 3 – Make Peace with Food, Principle 5 – Discover the Satisfaction Factor, and Principle 6 – Feel Your Fullness. I’m going to explain each of these principles and how they relate to out-of-control eating below.
Principle 2 – Honor Your Hunger
Honoring your hunger means that you do not wait to eat food until your stomach is completely empty. If you always wait to eat until you are ravenous, it becomes very easy to overshoot the point when you’re starting to feel comfortably full. Instead, take note of when you first start feeling hungry. How does your body tell you that you’re hungry? Do you get a slight headache, feel a little irritated, start thinking about food, or notice some other physical change? Think about it now, and make a commitment to respond to your hunger more quickly, perhaps within 30 minutes to 1 hour of starting to feel the first signs of hunger.
Principle 3 – Make Peace with Food
Allow yourself the permission to eat all foods. By seeing all foods equally, food loses its power over you. If you allow yourself to eat however much of a certain food whenever you like, your body will start telling you when enough is enough, and you will not have as strong of an emotional tie to certain foods. Allow yourself to have as much bread, cheese, chocolate, ice cream, or whatever foods you have said are off-limits. If you think this principle is really tricky, I can help you approach making peace with food slowly, carefully, and in ways that allow you to move forward when you are afraid through 1:1 coaching.
Principle 5 – Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Maybe you crave those potato chips and often eat them straight out of the bag while watching TV at night. Did you know that being able to see your food, sitting at a table, and paying attention to the nuances of flavor, texture, and smell can really help you enjoy your food? When you eat food in an environment that is pleasing, you often feel satisfied with less food. Taking time to just eat — and not be on electronics, working, or doing homework — also allows you to tune into when you are feeling full.
Principle 6 – Feel Your Fullness
It’s hard to tell when you’re feeling full. The best way to describe fullness is having a sense of contentment and comfortability in the absence of hunger. You no longer feel empty, but you don’t feel stuffed either. Fullness is much harder to describe than hunger. Do an experiment to see just when you would like to stop eating, and stay committed to not eating more than that last bite of food when you have determined you feel satisfied. Throw away or package up the rest of your meal, and seek to reach that point of comfortable fullness in future meals.
If you’re finding that the act of out-of-control eating is a pattern of bingeing at least once a week for several months, that may be tied to emotional trauma. If so, it is important to seek professional help. I can help you walk through Binge Eating Disorder (BED) if you are diagnosed by your doctor. With BED, it is also common to have co-occurring mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. I can work with you, your doctor, and your therapist to take steps towards healing your relationship with food.
There is hope for out-of-control eating, Binge Eating Disorder, and mental health concerns. I am eager to be a supporter for you in your journey toward rediscovering the Intuitive Eater that you were born to be.