Let me tell you a story.
This is my own story, a tale of restriction and calorie counting and obsession about everything I ate. Do you know the first time I purposefully ate almond butter as an adult, I measured it out and only let myself have 1 tablespoon on a piece of low-calorie bread? Ya know, because healthy fats were important, but I couldn’t have TOO much. (Insert major eye roll.)
I was convinced that this “high calorie” food would immediately cause weight gain, so I kept it tightly controlled, measuring it out to the last morsel.
That’s how I treated all food while I was in college - it was something to be controlled, to be measured, to be counted. My degree in dietetics fed into this obsession, as I kept learning all about my future job as a dietitian and the science of food. I was the queen of fake food - think spray “butter,” Diet Dr. Pepper, Lean Pockets, fat free cheese - as long as it was low calorie, I was game!
Fast forward a few years later. completed my dietetic internship and went to graduate school at USC. While there, I met a wonderful professor who introduced me to Intuitive Eating. My world was turned upside down as I learned about this unbelievable concept coined by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. It completely changed the trajectory of my own life with food and how I wanted to practice.
I learned that food is just food - it’s not good or bad, it has no morality tied to it. I needed to eat when my body said it was hungry, to stop when it was comfortable, but if I ate “too much” (according to my fullness signals), that’s it’s OK too. I learned to seek satisfaction in food, to listen to what my body craves and honor those signals. I learned that I really could eat all types of food and still be “healthy,” that I naturally gravitate to lots of veggies, fats, fruits, proteins, and starches without thinking about it because they taste and feel good to me when I let go of that judgment and obsession.
This is what I want for you. This is what I want for your kids. Need help? Please read Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch! We weave Intuitive Eating principles into both of our courses. Thanks to the other IE/HAES dietitians out there who are helping spread the word!
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!