We have made it to the final principle in our Intuitive Eating series, and it is by far the most misunderstood of them all. Principle 10 is all about gentle nutrition and embracing food as something that is there to nurture you, not punish you.
Click play to listen right on this page, no app needed:
If You Want to Embrace Gentle Nutrition You Should:
- Stop pitting your inner wisdom and inner body trust against the external world and social pressures found in diet culture
- Let go of your perfectionism and restrictions and start integrating your body wisdom and logic when it comes to food
- Change your mindset by embracing moderation and learn to trust your bodies ability to self-regulate
Lets Set the Record Straight About Gentle Nutrition
There are many misunderstandings around Principle 10, which is why it is the last principle for good reason. All of the principles have a firm basis in nutrition, but exploring gentle nutrition is something that must be done after you have already embraced the Intuitive Eating framework.
Your Body Is Your Home
Many of us have been raised to distrust our bodies and live in fear of our own being. This is simply ludicrous, and we have diet culture to thank for pitting ourselves against our own inner wisdom and body trust in favor of how we look externally. You should not be fearful or anxious about your body, but instead, embrace your physical vessel and how it works to serve you in the world at any size or shape.
Your Search for Perfection Is Not Healthy
If what you are eating or your constant search for perfection is causing you stress or anxiety, it is not healthy. How we think about food directly affects our actions towards it, and it is only by changing our mentality to an additive mindset rather than a restrictive one that we can start to embrace our worthiness. When it comes to making intuitive eating a part of your life, it involves practice and support. Changing your mindset may take some time, but it is crucial to your ability to stop looking for perfection on your plate and start embracing how your body can serve you right here and now.
What was your favorite principle shared in the Intuitive Eating series? Share your ‘a-ha’ moment or a recent win with me in the comments below.
In This Episode
- Debunking the most common misunderstandings surrounding the final principle of Intuitive Eating (5:50)
- Why gentle nutrition needs to be the last principle you embrace on your Intuitive Eating journey (14:24)
- Where diet culture comes from and why it is systemically built into our fatphobic society (19:19)
- Why mindset is a key part of the Intuitive Eating framework and your relationship to food (21:22)
- How to embrace the principle of moderation and trust your bodies ability to self-regulate (23:17)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“We are in our bodies. It is the vessel, the vehicle, by which we get around. It houses our intellect, our emotional being, our energetic being, it is how we interact with people and have a human experience.” (8:56)
“It is very, very common for people to want to go right to gentle nutrition first, it’s familiar, but here is the reason why gentle nutrition is the last principle in the book. A lot of people think, ‘oh it would be more credible if it was in the beginning’. But there is a reason for that.” (14:34)
“We need to understand that what we choose to eat has to also work for us as mental, emotional beings, and all of the other aspects of our wellbeing. It can’t just be the physical.” (15:51)
“Mindset is a key part of the framework that I teach because how we think about food directly affects our actions.” (21:28)
“Our bodies are innately wise, and we meddle in that because we have been taught to distrust.” (23:18)
What is Gentle Nutrition? (Intuitive Eating Principle 10) FULL TRANSCRIPT
This is Episode 304 of the Listen To Your Body podcast. On today’s episode, I’m digging into the last principle of intuitive eating and setting the record straight about gentle nutrition. The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast, on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively. Hear Your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.
Hello, hello. Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. We have made it to the very end of our series on the 10 principles of intuitive eating. Yes, today we are covering principle 10. honoring your body with gentle nutrition. I’ve got to tell you if there is one principle that is misunderstood it is this one. And there’s a reason that it’s last. And we’re going to talk about that on today’s show. Now of course, if you haven’t heard the other shows in this series, you may want to backtrack a little bit and go back to the beginning because you’re going to find that these principles really do build on themselves. And if you’re brand new to the concept of intuitive eating principle 10 is generally not the place that I would recommend somebody begins. There are several reasons why that is, and I will touch on a few of those in today’s show. But before we jump in, I want to share a win with you. That comes from my tune in membership from one of my members. Tune in is my membership program where we learn body trust and practice principles of intuitive eating, and a whole bunch of other amazing stuff. It’s a great community super focused on helping each other and of course, you get coaching along with it. So today’s win comes from one of my members, it says I decided to make peace with ice cream, a food I love but would eat uncontrollably when I quote allowed myself to have it. I bought a pint of ice cream. It sat in the freezer for several days before I took the first bite at it took me about two weeks to finish it. And my boyfriend even ate some of it. The best part is that I ate the last of it yesterday during a six-hour virtual work retreat. no guilt, no should not just enjoyment. It’s a small step. But it feels like a win. I keep my member’s names private. Obviously, we share a lot of really deep and personal stuff in there. But I wanted to share this when. And this is characteristic of the things that my members are really learning. They are growing, they are challenging beliefs that they have had for their whole lives and really learning to trust their own bodies. They’re becoming their own experts of themselves and their lives. And it is incredible to witness their growth. You can find out more about how you can join us in the tune in membership by going to my website, Steph gaudreau.com. Alright, let’s jump into principle 10 honoring your health with gentle nutrition. If there is one principle that folks want to jump to immediately, when they start intuitive eating, it’s this one, because nutrition rules and amusing rules and heavy air quotes because there are no like nutrition rules and intuitive eating but nutrition rules and guidelines and best practices and analysis and what’s in food and what does it mean for us and all the information is so prevalent. And it is, by and large, at least a way in the Western world that we look at food. We don’t as often consider food as being a social experience, even perhaps a spiritual experience or having a spiritual connection. We don’t see food as being something that’s truly there to nurture us we see food as the enemy. And when you believe you have the thought and the belief that food is the enemy and makes you feel a certain way you fear it. You have anxiety around it and then you’ll be happy in certain ways that reflect those feelings, those emotions.
So it is familiar it is kind of natural that it is the one principle that people are drawn to, especially if they’re coming out of trying to they’re here to mend their relationship with food. And that relationship is very tumultuous, and they don’t trust themselves. And there’s a diet restriction cycle, or there’s a lot of guilt and shame around food and eating. And it’s the one that is the most magnetic because it’s the one that’s the most familiar. But there are a couple of common misunderstandings or misbeliefs, about what this principle is. So I just want to run through those really quickly. And then I’m going to summarize what I see as some of the most important points of this principle for your own application. The first misconception is that intuitive eating is ignorant of nutrition. That is not true. And it is one of the most common misconceptions. As I said, it’s something I hear repeated all the time, it becomes repeated as a criticism or a fear. And it’s totally fine to ask questions. But when you say you hear where it’s coming from, it’s like the under the subtext, if it was a subtweet, it would be subtweet, you’re just telling people to eat shit all the time that that’s okay. There’s a whole other conversation in there about things like food availability, food insecurity, food deserts, et cetera, et cetera, which we won’t get into. But just know that if you hear those criticisms, as if you’re dabbling with intuitive eating, and you hear people saying, it’s just an excuse to eat shit. That’s not true. Right? The original writers of intuitive eating the book, Evelyn Tripoli and Elise rash are both registered dietitians. Okay, so we have a firm basis here in nutrition, I myself as a nutritional therapy practitioner, you know, we’re not going to be oblivious to the nutrition information, the nutrition science that’s out there. So that’s one criticism that you need to be aware of Another criticism is that we should only be following external rules or external values. And so what I mean by that is, you know, these foods are healthy foods, these foods are good foods, these foods are the best foods to eat because they have XYZ benefits. We should only make decisions about our philosophical beliefs about foods. So for example, if sustainability is really important to you, if regenerative farming is really important to you, if eating an animal-free diet is really important to you, if you have religious beliefs that are related to what you eat, for example, you fast or there are certain foods that are excluded by your religious tradition, or included by your religious tradition, and you should eat them. There are so many factors that play into those external health values. And it’s almost made to be again out in the world that we can’t trust ourselves can’t trust our bodies, we can’t trust our inner wisdom. We can’t trust ourselves to be inflow. We can’t we were just trying to be on the straight and narrow, we’re going to eat the same amount every single day as if we’re this automaton. Right, we’re, we’re almost where we are in our bodies. We’re not just our bodies, but we are in our bodies. It is the vessel, the vehicle by which we get around. It houses, our intellect, our emotional being our energetic being. It’s how we interact with people and have a human experience. So yes, we see the world through that physical vessel. super important. Yeah. And yet, we’re told that this home of ours is out to sabotage us, it’s out to do us wrong. It is completely we are raised to distrust our own home. We live in fear of our own being our own body. And no, just let that sink in for a minute. If you are fearful and anxious about your own body, how that impacts you. And so,
honoring your health with gentle nutrition is not pitting one against the other. It’s not saying, Hey, you got to only listen to your body. You’re only going to do what your body says or want or eat only on your body’s schedule. because let me tell you what it If you’re chronically stressed, or chronically anxious and you’re not eating if you only listened to your body, you would be severely underfed, we have to bring in logic, we have to understand the very basic tenets of how to feed ourselves. And we can eat on a schedule, and that’s okay. But we can’t pit our inner wisdom and our inner body trust, our inner attunement against the external world, the problem is that we are only externally focused as a society. And I mean, our external health values, do this, don’t do that, eat this, don’t eat that good food, bad food. This has a health Halo, this is horrible for you, and it’s gonna kill you. Right? So we live in these extremes. And we push everything over to the external information without any of the internal knowledge and sense of self to, to meter it to make those decisions in a way that’s bringing us toward our own authentic, well being, like what’s true for us. And that’s a huge downfall of how nutrition gentle nutrition is understood in the world. A third issue is that, yes, if there’s legitimately a food that you cannot eat, that makes you feel a certain way in your body, or there is a specific reason why you’re on a healing protocol. A lot of people believe that intuitive eating doesn’t make any allowances for that. And in fact, gentle nutrition does say, hey, if you need more nutritional support, please seek out someone who is qualified to help you do that.
You know, I’ve been in this community for a decade now. And I have heard so many unfortunate stories of people putting themselves on therapeutic protocols. without going through the proper channels. Now, we could have a whole side discussion about why that access is not available to everybody. And it’s limited. And that is not like, I wish that stuff was available to everybody at a cost that was very affordable. And the reality is right now it’s not. So I can understand sometimes why people take that situation into their own hands. But I’ve heard of some pretty serious protocols being attempted based on no professional guidance. And so if you do have a food restriction or a set of food restrictions, or you believe you would be better on a therapeutic protocol, than doing that with the cooperation of someone who understands how to do that protocol in a professional sense, and ideally, is not reinforcing the values of diet culture at the same time and can help you navigate the middle ground. because let me tell you, I have heard of so many folks have been on therapeutic protocols, they did it by themselves. And that’s great. We need that freedom of information, and research and being able to look these things up for ourselves and advocate for ourselves and have informed consent. Completely. Yes. But so many folks who have ended up restricting more and more and more and more foods on the quest to find out what is not working for them. stress and anxiety start to rise, and sometimes even the prevalence of disordered eating comes in. So you really do want to find someone who can partner with you. And that does include you, as well as the person seeking treatment to say, Hey, I have, um, I have this issue where if I have to cut everything out, I start to get really obsessive. How can you work with me? How would you work with me, in order to move my health along without putting me backward into disordered eating or an eating disorder or just feeling really trapped by the food? So I would say those are three of the biggest misconceptions. And it’s very, very common for people to want to go right to gentle nutrition. First, as I said, it’s familiar. But here’s the reason why gentle nutrition is the last principle in the book. A lot of people think oh, it would be more credible if it was at the beginning. But there’s a reason for that. And although in practice, when I’m coaching people using intuitive eating principles, and mentoring them through that process, we do skip around quite a bit, I almost never start with a discussion of gentle nutrition. Y’all know too much already. You know too much. You’re telling me the con the lectin content of certain foods and the anti-nutrients and this and that like y’all know too much about So you are, generally speaking, you know a lot. But you know too much and why I say that is you get into analysis mode. And even the best-intentioned nutrition guidance, in a gentle nutrition sense can be taken to extremes. And it can result in things like obsession with food, all or nothing thinking about food, binging and restricting, feeling guilty and shameful. And if that’s the outcome of focusing on nutrition, where is the disconnect here, we need to understand that what we choose to eat has to also work for us as mental-emotional beings, and all the other aspects of our well being. It can’t just be the physical, like, oh, I’m feeding, you know, my body the optimal amount of nutrients. Because if that process is causing you to lose your shit, then it’s not healthy for you. And I say this all the time, and I get so much pushback. I say, I mean, I say I posted something on Instagram not too long ago that said something like, you know, worrying and stressing about carbs is worse for you, it’s worse for your health than probably eating the carbs are and that’s a paraphrase. But so many people got mad at me for that. No one’s saying that it’s not your prerogative to adjust your carb intake or if there’s a certain medical reason 100%. But if that like search for perfection, or search for optimization is causing you stress and anxiety, it is not healthy. Period.
So I push back on that, we need to have the fuller picture. So gentle nutrition is almost never one of the first things that I talk about or introduce. It usually waits till a little bit later, till you’ve explored our thoughts and beliefs about food, where those came from, we start to notice our body signals, what’s that body wisdom that’s coming through, we start to respect our bodies a little bit more, we take those steps. And when things start to get a little bit more level, then we can start talking about gentle nutrition. And like I said, y’all know this stuff already. This is not a surprise. So some of the principles or some of the sub principles of this aspect of gentle nutrition are things like how does the food taste? Are you enjoying the taste of the food? I know this is gonna sound like the most basic shit. And you’re gonna think I listened to this episode for this. And literally, it comes down to this. This is the stuff that is not sexy. It is trying to find the middle ground, middle ground eating, what is the middle ground? What is the average of your food intake? Right over the course of I don’t know, a week, we don’t have to be perfect every single fucking meal, right? We’re making ourselves nuts with this stuff. So how does the food taste? Do we enjoy the way the food tastes? If we don’t enjoy anything about what we’re choosing voluntarily to put on our plates. And it doesn’t have to be in a course meal. That’s not what we’re saying here. But where there’s nothing about it that’s enjoyable for us, we’re not going to come back to it. Taste, the flavor can coexist with these other factors. And we talked about that in the satisfaction episode, if you want to go dive into that more quantity of food, right? This is the one that freaks everybody out. They’re like, I’ll never stop eating at the beginning when you first give yourself that unconditional permission to eat. And even that’s not normally the first principle that I cover with people because it’s just too anxiety causing. So normally we’ll look at some other principles first that just have to do with noticing and observing and things like that. But quantity, where we’re a world that is terrified of eating too much food because we’re afraid of getting bigger because our primary way of understanding our bodies in this sense is that we are terrified of getting bigger because we are a fatphobic society as grounded in white supremacist ideals on the patriarchy. If you wanted to know what diet culture is, that that’s where it comes from. So we have a preoccupation with eating too much food or the quantity of the food. And the point is that when we stop restricting ourselves that we stop overeating. At first, sometimes you’ll eat a little bit more and it will level out and it will level out relatively quickly. But there is definitely that period of holding yourself in compassion and doing this in a supportive environment. That’s very, very helpful. Quality. Yeah, for sure. And vegetables yell. However, if you’re only ever making yourself eat raw vegetables, and it’s trashing your digestive system, and it’s just too much fiber, and You’re shitting yourself all day long, I mean, we, you see how like that’s going to extremes. So we want to Yes, think about things like quality if we can, if we can, it’s not always available to everybody. That’s another huge point. We get a little bit high and mighty sometimes in this community, not this not my community, but in the world of health and wellness at large, that we just turn our noses up at people who, quote, aren’t eating better, and they don’t always have the means. That’s a bigger conversation for another day. But certainly quality right? Getting a variety of foods like over the course of your week, what is the variety of food that you’re able to get? Because you will generally have a better nutrient profile, for example. And knowing that one meal does not make or break, right, it goes back to beliefs, our thoughts about food? Are we an all or nothing thinker? Are we developing flexibility and our own mindset? It is one of the reasons why mindset is was a key part of the framework that I teach. Because how we think about food directly affects our actions. So looking for a variety, nobody gets a prize for having the most voluntarily restricted diet. Again, we want to be sensitive to things like food availability, food scarcity, and so on and so forth. But if you have the means, including variety, thinking about the longer-term balance of the situation, this is a huge downfall of things like a dieting mentality, is that you think I fucked up one meal, I ruined everything.
And that could precipitate something like withholding food over-exercising to compensate or bingeing, overeating, and just saying, well, who cares, I just fucked it all up, so I might as well. So the idea of balance over time, not balancing one meal, not balancing even a day. But over the kind of the bigger picture. If we eat a little bit more on one day, and then naturally, our bodies tend to sometimes desire a little bit less the next day or four more active one day and less active on another, our bodies are smart, not just in the amount of food that we eat, but in regulating our internal environment. And even if things aren’t working optimally your body is trying to keep you in homeostasis, for the most part, unless you’re if you’re someone in labor right now. It’s putting you into a positive feedback loop. And it’s like get this baby out of here. But for the most part, we are, we’re creatures that have negative feedback loops, which means if something goes too high, our bodies compensate by bringing it back down, or too low, our bodies compensate by bringing it back up. We, our bodies, are innately wise and we get metal, we metal in that because we’ve been taught to distrust. And lastly, I would say, this is probably the one that most people cringe at is the term moderation is just look, not everything may be good for you in moderation. But the principle of if we allow a little bit here, we blow off a little bit of steam there. We allow ourselves a bite of this now, instead of holding out for the whole week, and then bingeing on it on the weekend, that we’re pretty good at self-regulating. Now, again, if you’re somebody for whom, for example, alcohol doesn’t work for you, then I wouldn’t say hey, you’re gonna have to try to get that into moderation. You always have the choice, but see where it’s coming from, especially if it’s a food that you just think you should never eat, or you can’t control yourself around. If there’s that phrase that ever pops into your vocabulary, like I can’t control myself around food XYZ, that’s a huge red flag. There’s something to be explored and perhaps mended there. And it’s oftentimes with mindset. It’s the mindset is psychology because remember, restriction of food affects us physically. And psychologically. One last thing I’ll add that I find really, really helpful for my clients and my members and the people that I work with. Oftentimes, again, when we think about nutrition, we think what do we have to cut out versus a cut this never eat that, that’s bad food, etc. One of the most helpful things for people can be looking at an additive approach, an additive approach, so safe For example, I was having a conversation with one of my members about anti-inflammatory foods. And it was something along the lines of I’m going to have to cut out all these things because they might increase inflammation. And one of the things that I kind of countered with was, is there something you can add that has great, you know, it can be really helpful with anti-inflammation, knowing that inflammation is not just caused by food. And in fact, stress and under-eating can also increase inflammation. So I think that that’s just a helpful way of looking at the scenario, especially if we’re trying to build a habit is adding something in something small, something that we can do easily something that we like doing when it’s small, it’s easy, and we like doing it, we increase the likelihood that that will become a habit, if we enjoy it, it’s going to stick around. And sometimes, over time, that pushes out the other things that we would like to minimize without it being a mental Battle of restriction. So that’s some thoughts on honoring your body with gentle nutrition. Obviously, it’s impossible to capture all the nuance of this single principle in one podcast episode. And remember that implementing, practicing experimenting with actually doing these things in your life is where the rubber really meets the road with intuitive eating, it is a practice.
Learning about it’s wonderful, absolutely getting your information from credible sources, very important. But when it comes down to making intuitive eating part of your life, it does involve practicing and getting support. Please do not try to do this all on your own. There are multiple ways you can get support, whether it’s with an online group, it’s with a coaching program, or a mentor or therapist, or a supportive friend or family member, it really does matter for you to not do this in a bubble. Remember, diet culture is all around us, it is still the dominant way that we look at and frames our beliefs about bodies in this world and health and health-promoting behaviors, and puts the emphasis on all the wrong things. So I hope that this has been a really helpful series for you. I’ve had so much positive feedback on this intuitive eating principle series. And it struck a chord for you, I would love to know about it. So send me a direct message or better yet, share this episode out on Instagram and let us know what you thought about what you liked about it. If you had an aha moment or when that would be fantastic. Also, remember to jump in and check out the tune in membership. You can find out more about that on my website. This is my program to really help people to develop body trust, become the expert in your own body in yourself so that you can start to discover more peace, more freedom, more confidence, and more ease. You deserve that. You’ve always been worthy. Not at a particular body size, or because you look a certain way. You’ve always been worthy, full stop. That does it for this episode. I can’t wait to bring you another episode next week. Until then, be well.
Join the Core 4 Community
Thanks for Listening!