Monday, February 6, 2012

Intuitive Eating-Review

I recently read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD; and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA.  Since starting this blog, this has to be my favorite nutrition/diet book I have read so far.  The authors wrote the first edition in 1995 after becoming dissatisfied with the typical dietitian mentality: serving sizes, exchange system, calorie counting, and so on.  The book focuses on several areas, but as the name implies, learning to eat intuitively is the main premiss.  The practices in mindful eating are now being used in eating disorder clinics around the country.  However, anyone suffering from a life of chronic dieting or food worry will identify with the example patients the authors use to help present the program.  I should make a huge disclaimer here, much as ET and ER do in their book.  THIS IS NOT A DIET!!!  By following the practices of mindful eating, people who are overweight will probably lose weight, and people who struggle with chronic dieting will come to peace with food.

1. The weight-loss industry is a $30+ billion a year business.  (Programs, Pills, Shakes, Bars, Surgery)
2.  90-95% of all diets fail.
3. Restricting food slows Metabolism.
4. 45% of adults feel guilty about eating foods they like.
5. The US is the most preoccupied country with regards to weight and health concerns, we are the most overweight, yet we take the least amount of satisfaction and pleasure from eating.

There are 3-4 main types of eating disorders recognized within the medical Community and are considered a mental disorder, not a physical disorder; even-though they wreak havoc on the body:

Anorexia nervosa: Restricting food to lose weight below 85% of what is considered ideal.  Often starts off with the simple quest to lose a little weight, but spirals out of control to where patients may only eat 1 apple or a few carrots each day.

Binge Eating Disorder: Consuming more than what is considered a normal amount within a 2hr time period.  Binges may consist of 2000-4000 calories. Typically follows a time of food restriction.  People are typically of normal weight, but may be overweight.

Bulimia Nervosa:  Similar to Binge Eating, but each binge is followed by purging.  Purging may be done through laxative use, vomiting, or exercise.  Sometimes people begin to purge even after normal size meals.  The act of vomiting after a large binge of say 2000 calories, will only rid the body of approximately 800-1000 calories.  Patients have been know to purge more than 20x per day.  Patients may be of normal weight, underweight, or overweight.  

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: When people do not meet all the criteria for one of the other eating disorders.  Ex: A woman with Anorexia Nervosa who still experiences menstruation even though at 5'5" she only weights 100lb = 80%ideal body weight.  This is also where people who are chronic dieters or yo-yo dieters would fall.  People who are preoccupied with thoughts of food, nutrition, and distorted body image.  Again, these patients may be a wide range of body sizes.  Surprisingly, almost 50% of the female population could fall into this category.  Think of how many women have gone on a diet, regained the weight and then some, gone on another diet...only to then regain more weight.  It's a vicious cycle, and one that has a very devastating impact on the psyche and body.

There are ten steps to becoming an Intuitive Eater, and the book does an excellent job of outlining each.
  1. Reject the diet mentality.
  2. Honor your hunger.
  3. Make peace with food.
  4. Challenge the food police.
  5. Feel your fullness.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor.
  7. Cope with emotions without the use of food.
  8. Respect your body.
  9. Exercise-feel the difference.
  10. Honor your health-gentle nutrition.
The authors stress that intuitive eating is a process, unlike diets there is no linear thinking.  It is not starting at one weight with the sole intention of losing a certain amount of weight.  It is a journey.  Some days will be better than others, but each part of the journey should be see as a positive experience.  Almost each step towards becoming an intuitive eater encompasses the need to enjoy food, enjoy life, and love your body.  Think about weight watchers statement that it is not a diet.  Of course it is!  It does not teach a person to listen to their body, it teaches them to focus on points.  And what is a person to do when their points run out at the end of the day, and they are still hungry or at a party with lots of delicious food?  Quite the quandary.  My favorite statement in the book is "If you don't love it, don't eat it, and if you love it, savor it."  

If you or someone you know struggles with chronic dieting or poor body image, I highly recommend reading Intuitive Eating. While you may be able to practice the principles on your own, like any journey it's best to have support from a friend or family member.  It can be scary to let go of the diet mentality and food rules, but being able to sit at a meal knowing you can eat without worry is liberating.