When Intuitive Eating Doesn’t Work

I’m always intrigued when I hear someone say that intuitive eating didn’t work for them.  I’ve never seen it not work for one of my clients, so I want to know exactly where and how it went sideways for this person.  Here’s what I’ve seen:

They follow intuitive eating rules.

They think that becoming an intuitive eater is about eating only when you’re hungry, and always stopping when you’re full.  They get mad at themselves when they can’t make themselves eat this way, and eventually decide that intuitive eating doesn’t work for them.

Here’s the thing:  There are perfectly good reasons that you’re not already eating intuitively, and unless you figure out what they are, and how you can take better care of yourself, you won’t get anywhere with intuitive eating. When you are an intuitive eater, you’ll naturally eat according to your internal signals, but there is a big difference between choosing to do this because you want to feel good, and choosing to do this because you want to be “good.”

They want a quick fix.

So you’ve been struggling with food your whole life, and you’re sick of it.  You want to master this whole intuitive eating thing ASAP.  I get it, but as someone who has helped a lot of people become intuitive eaters, I can tell you for certain that becoming an intuitive eater takes time.  No exceptions.

I feel frustrated when I see other health coaches promise to fix your food struggles in six weeks, because it encourages unrealistic expectations.  The length of time it takes you to become an intuitive eater strongly depends on what you’ve been through with food and where you’re at now.

They don’t deal with root causes.

There are perfectly good reasons why you don’t eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.  Every time you reach for food when you are not hungry, you are trying to meet a need.  Figuring out what exactly that need is and how you can meet that need is your life’s work.  The more you practice, the easier it’ll get, but this process is never ending.  You can’t become an intuitive eater without learning to meet your true needs.

It’s natural to have some doubts as you switch over from dieting to intuitive eating.  In fact, there is often a crisis moment early in the process, where you feel the temptation to do “one more diet” as all of your deepest fears come bubbling to the surface.  That’s ok, and we can work through that.  But if you’re still looking for a quick and easy fix to your food issues, or you truly just want someone else to tell you what to do, you are not ready to become an intuitive eater.

If you are completely sick of trying diets that don’t work, intuitive eating is for you.  If you’re ready to prioritize your health and well-being over your size and appearance, intuitive eating is for you.  If you are ready to transform yourself and your life, and do the work it takes to become your highest self, intuitive eating is for you.  Once you have reconnected with your inner wisdom, you will trust your intuition when it comes to food.  There is no way for your inner wisdom to “not work.”

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2 thoughts on “When Intuitive Eating Doesn’t Work”

  1. This is a fantastic clarification! It’s difficult to stop myself from bringing my dieting behaviours into the intuitive eating guidelines, i.e. feeling like giving up when I behave in ways counter to the principles. I’m getting there and slowly figuring out how to address the true needs behind cravings without hunger… that’s definitely the hardest part!


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