One of the biggest misconceptions people seem to have about intuitive eating is that it’s a food free for all and by extension, a free for all when it comes to our health as well. This is not the case! In fact, it misses the whole point of intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is about listening to our intuition when it comes to food and our bodies, does that mean some days we will eat more than others? Yes! Does it mean everything we eat is “healthy”? No not necessarily. In fact, it’s important that we make room for all foods. That doesn’t mean however, that eating intuitively will negatively impact our health.
I think this concern really comes from what we hear in the mainstream media about weight being the cause of almost all health issues. Not true! In fact, in spite of what we constantly hear in the media, weight and health are not the same thing. Research shows this as well. For example, many studies have shown that people who are in the “over weight” range of the BMI scale actually tend to live longer than those in the “normal” weight range. More importantly, most of the studies that seem to “prove” a connection between obesity and health issues rely more on correlation than causation. (For more information on this, please do take the time to dig in and do some research of your own).
Take a look at studies of intuitive eating, research HAES (health at every size). This is the approach I take when it comes to working with clients who struggle with negative ideas around what eating intuitively will mean to their health as well. I can certainly provide information around health and its relationship to intuitive eating, but I tend to think that for those who ae research inclined at least, doing some of your own digging and research about these concepts can actually be one of the most helpful things we can do to try and battle those outside messages we get about weight and health.
The other thing I think it’s important to consider is the importance of our mental health when we consider overall health. If you are eating “healthy” but struggling with your mental health as a result is that really worth the perceived benefit to your physical health? I would argue that it’s not. Also, our mental health has a huge impact on our physical health as well so if I’m constantly stressed out by my diet, I’m probably not getting the physical health benefit from eating that way I think I am.
When it comes to health, we need to change the conversation. Our overall health is about so much more than just our physical body. It is also about our mental health, our spiritual health, our work life balance etc. Far too often, all these other important aspects of health get disregarded in pursuit of the “perfect” body.
Questions about intuitive eating and health or anything else food/body related? Feel free to get in touch!