Top positive review
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If you read one more book on eating, make it this one
on 11 May 2014
A few weeks ago, after I had finally had enough of dieting and continuous restrictive eating followed by bingeing, I bought 2 anti-dieting books. Intuitive Eating was the second one I read and to me, by far the best book on healthy relationship with food. If you are someone who has struggled with that, I can totally recommend this book.
The advice in this book is refreshing and liberating. I would go as far as saying, I have found it life-changing. The authors talk about giving up dieting for good and instead re-building a positive and satisfying relationship with food by granting ourselves a permission to eat whatever we like, and follow our bodies' signals for hunger and fullness. As a habitual dieter with a past eating disorder, I cannot explain how liberating it has been to tell myself I can eat any food I fancy. After trying all sorts of diet plans, more or less restrictive, I was developing obsessions with foods I didn't even particularly fancy, but because they were in the 'forbidden' category, I would regularly binge on every time I fell off the diet wagon. I was getting more and more concerned about my inability to stick to 'healthy eating' and compulsive overeating spells.
The book explains why diets don't work and diet failures are not a willpower issue, but inevitable result of the destructive mechanism of self-imposed restrictive eating. As soon as I stopped branding food as good or bad and allowed myself to eat whatever I really fancied, I have not experienced any cravings or desire to overeat. In the past 3 weeks I have eaten anything I like, including things I have previously avoided like the plague (like cakes, ice cream and carbs) and something close to miracle has happened. I am able to stop when I am full and leave things on my plate, because I know I can eat again those foods if I really wished so again. The liberation of not having to obsess about what 'permitted foods' I am going to eat on daily basis is truly amazing. Most of all I have eaten freely foods like bread, pasta, pizza and ice cream every day if that's what I fancied at the time and stopped when I have had enough with no guilt or feeling uncomfortably full afterwards. Funnily enough allowing myself to eat 'naughty foods' has not led me to bingeing on those. On the contrary, I still like to eat nutritious foods as part of my diet, it is a lot more about having a good balance of those and the so called 'play foods', as the authors call them. I have started to eat slower and food tastes so much better as I spend more time savouring it. I stop regularly mid-meal to check how full my stomach feels and whether I fancy some more or have had enough. I am still learning about getting in touch with my hunger and fullness, but am trying to be kind and patient with myself in the hope that the more I practice it, the easier I will be able to detect those.
As per the book's advice I have not weighed myself in the last few weeks and feel better for it. I am in a normal weight range and don't really need to lose weight, and am starting to realise slowly how much stress I was causing myself by constantly trying to hit some imaginary weight targets. My clothes fit great on me, and because I have not overeaten for this long, my stomach feels flatter than ever. I have loads of energy and an overall sense of well being, probably a result of the increased carb intake. Furthermore, I look forward to exercising and enjoy it a lot more, as I have stopped worrying how it fits with the calories I have consumed or using it as a self-punishment for overeating.
Intuitive Eating offers great advice for instilling healthy attitude to food in your children too. My husband and I have started implementing some of the advice with my daughter's eating and we can already see positive changes in her approach to eating. As a mother I am particularly concerned that I need to offer her a good example of healthy eating in the hope that she would never have to deal with food obsession and disordered eating.
Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough. Yesterday I threw away my big stash of diet books and could not be happier for the fact I don't have to diet ever again. Now every day feels like a food vacation. There is no need to punish myself anymore or wait for the next Monday in order to be 'good' again. I look forward to cooking meals I have avoided for so long and new meals that I fancy, rather than worry about whether they fit with the good-bad mantra.
I would say that some people may not be at a stage in their lives where they could truly commit to the advice in this book. It is all to enticing sometimes to follow a diet with clear-cut advice and time frame, offering promises for quick fix results. This book is the total opposite of a diet book. It offers no plan, no end date or stages to aim for. It is all about re-connecting with our bodies and respecting our innate ability to recognise hunger, fullness and desires for particular foods. It requires a leap of faith to do so, especially if you happen to be a habitual dieter, who has followed someone else's ideas of what and how often and how much you should eat. However, the risk is totally worth it in that as soon as you take your sight of weight loss, and start respecting your body, the inner peace and empowerment will give you a different, much stronger foundation to eat in a healthy and more importantly- satisfying way.