CAN INTUITIVE EATING HELP WITH BINGE EATING?

What is Intuitive Eating?


As a brief recap, Intuitive Eating is a framework designed to heal a persons relationship to food and their body. It's based on the evidence that dieting does not promote health in the majority of people, and in fact can make health worse.


We have a few resources on Intuitive Eating, the effect that dieting can have here:

  • Read our blog on Intuitive Eating - this is a big breakdown, including FAQs

  • Listen to our podcast episode on Intuitive eating here

  • Read about the damaging effects of weight cycling - which is what happens in the majority of people who diet


Our founder, Shannon, found Intuitive Eating after years of feeling like there must be something more out there. These are her words:


I felt like there must be a way to help people tune into their own bodies, rather than me just educating people on what they should and shouldn't eat. Even if this comes from a place of ''don't restrict anything, eat what feels good" - I felt like there had to be something that embodied this.


That thing did exist. In fact, it was a 20 year old framework called Intuitive Eating.


That was 5 years ago. And Intuitive Eating is more wide-spread and popular than ever before. I am so happy that I discovered the power of Intuitive Eating. I am even training with the original co-creators of Intuitive Eating and become a Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor. It's a big training programme so it takes quite a while; I should finished up by around Spring 2023.


I want to make it clear that at Ease Nutrition Therapy we don't just "do" Intuitive Eating. We more use some of the principles and the foundations of Intuitive Eating. Working with us is much different to just following along the Intuitive Eating book or workbook.


Intuitive Eating to me is more like a way to food freedom. But once you reach freedom, you decide what a healthy relationship to food looks like to you.


Intuitive Eating is outlined in a book of the same name. You can see the book here. **


It was great to write to you -- let's continue with the article.



Why does intuitive eating help stop binging?


Intuitive Eating focuses on the internal aspect of eating and movement - what your body wants and needs as opposed to what everyone is telling you it needs. Intuitive Eating is a process where you regain trust and connection with your body.


This means instead of relying on external factors to tell you what, when, and how much to eat or move, you trust internal cues. If you’re struggling with binge eating, you probably feel like you can’t trust your body. I get that this concept probably feels like the opposite of what you need.


Intuitive Eating seems really revolutionary. The thing is, it’s literally just a normal, healthy relationship to food. But you can’t develop the Intuitive Eating side of you by staying stuck in the cycle you’re in. Something needs to change.


That’s where Intuitive Eating comes in.


We’ve supported many people to recover from binge eating. A framework we use as part of the process (it’s just one piece, we have lots of different frameworks to draw from) is Intuitive Eating.




How does Intuitive Eating help with binge eating?


Binge eating often occurs with deprivation. This might be:

  • Physical restriction from foods you enjoy.

For example, when you go on a new diet and try to just be healthy. Doesn’t it eventually end up with you ‘’failing’’ and eating too much of something?

  • Mental restriction from foods you enjoy.

We meet so many people who tell us: "I’m not restricting myself! I just eat in moderation. I follow the 80/20 approach.” I hate to break it to you, but if you’re doing this and you’re binging - you're probably in restriction mode.


Deprivation usually leads to an all or nothing response. You’ve fallen off the wagon, who cares now!?

Intuitive Eating is a process that helps you tune in to your body. At the same time, you’re also dismantling food rules and restrictions, regaining control around food, and working on your emotional/mental health. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?


That’s why we use this approach with our 1:1 clients. Intuitive Eating is a missing piece to binge eating and Binge Eating Disorder recovery. By not restricting anything the all or nothing response is less likely to occur, and the urge to binge will decrease.


Intuitive Eating gives the essential steps that recovering from binge eating needs.


Some of which are:


1. It stabilises eating and brings you to a structured, normal eating pattern.


2. It helps you understand the science behind why weight loss and dieting will not cure your binging.


3. It works on re-attuning you to your bodies needs, and actually responding to them. The core of Intuitive Eating is Interoceptive Awareness, which is all about noticing what’s happening in your body and responding to it. This includes no longer pushing hunger off for as long as possible, skipping meals, skimping on portions, and ignoring your emotional needs.


As an extra bonus, support with Nutrition Counsellors like us also means we deal with all the stuff that comes up when you do these things, like guilt, shame, and other scary feelings.


4. Over time, help you binge less. Not only will your binges be less frequent and intense, they will also be less of a constant worry. I know right now you feel worried that a binge is going to strike.


Will Intuitive Eating help me lose weight if I binge eat?


Intuitive Eating is designed to improve your relationship to food. Which cannot happen alongside intentional weight loss.


If someone is telling you that you can try to lose weight and become an Intuitive Eater, they probably have no training in Intuitive Eating.


Intuitive Eating and Binge Eating Disorder recovery


Intuitive Eating is part of the puzzle in Binge Eating Disorder recovery. Those with Binge Eating Disorder need support before they can become Intuitive Eaters.


People with Binge Eating Disorder have likely been ignoring their bodies' needs and cues for a long time. Which means re-tuning into them is just not possible. We’ve worked with a lot of folks with Binge Eating Disorder who feel so frustrated with Intuitive Eating.



We explain it like this: Binge Eating Disorder recovery means rebuilding the foundations of a house.


Intuitive Eating is painting the walls.


The missing link is being stable and structured with food, and noticing your body's needs.



What else do you need in Binge Eating Disorder recovery?


  • Support - whether that’s family, friends or even strangers on the internet. A support system helps keep you accountable, as well as offering a hand when needed. Knowing you’re not alone is key.


  • Being aware of your triggers - tuning in internally as to what may cause binging for you, or stirs up negative emotions. The more you can be aware of these triggers and work on other ways to combat them, the better.


  • Work with a professional - professionals who have worked with others with BED will know how best to support you and how to find the balance between Intuitive Eating and structured help. See our article on how nutritionists help with eating disorders.


  • Know that recovery isn’t just about food - BED affects all aspects of your life, so recovery will as well. Food, movement, mental health, job, social life and more will all be affected.


  • Know that you will have setbacks - momentum is better than having a perfect day everyday. Recovery is a journey, and knowing how to deal with setbacks when and if they occur will be key to long term recovery.


  • Believe in yourself - recovery is all about you. Although you work with those around you, you do the work and you reap the benefits.



**Please note: This is an affiliate link. We earn a small percentage for any sales made when someone uses this link.


References:

  1. Linardon et al 2021

  2. Hazzard et al 2020

  3. Teas et al 2022

  4. Fothergill et al 2016

  5. Cherpak 2019

  6. Kierns and Hawkins 2020

  7. Van Dyke and Drinkwater 2013

  8. Bruce and Ricciardelli 2016

  9. Van Dyke and Drinkwater 2022

  10. Racine et al 2011

ABOUT EASE NUTRITION THERAPY

We are a specialist eating disorders and disordered eating online clinic. We support people with troubled relationships to food with expert Nutrition Counselling.

Founded by Shannon Western in 2019. The team has grown to welcome wonderful Dietitians and Nutritionists all to help you feel better with food.

Are you:

  • Struggling with feeling overwhelmed or out of control with eating?

  • Unsure about when, why, and how much to eat?

  • Ready to take the steps (however small!) away from your eating disorder, disordered eating, or long dieting history?

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