To recap, the first two Principles of Intuitive Eating are: (1) Reject the Diet Mentality and (2) Honor Your Hunger. The Third Principle of Intuitive Eating is to “Make Peace with Food.”
What does “Make Peace with Food” mean?
As discussed in The Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, making peace with food means making all foods equal in your mind. That means there are no “good” foods and there are no “bad” foods. Likewise, you cannot be “good” or “bad” for eating any type of food. As simple as this sounds, many of us have been trained to view certain foods like apples and broccoli as “good” and other foods like pizza and cake as “bad.” We have also been trained to view ourselves as “good” for eating “good” foods and as “bad” for eating “bad” foods. This is particularly true for people with a history of dieting and/or eating disorders. They often have “off-limits” or “forbidden” foods out of fear that they can’t control themselves” around those foods.
To make peace with food, you must allow yourself to eat all foods. For many, this principle feels scary. Why would I allow myself to eat a “forbidden” food if I know I’m going to eat too much of it? The answer is that by making a food “forbidden” you have, ironically, made it even more appealing in your brain. The book calls this “The Forbidden-Fruit Phenomenon.” The more off limits you make a food, the more likely you are to binge on it.
How Does Intuitive Eating of All Foods Stop Binging?
By allowing yourself to eat foods that have been previously “off-limits,” you are exposing those foods to habituation. Dictionary.com defines habituation as the “reduction of psychological or behavioral response occurring when a specific stimulus occurs repeatedly.” Translation: the more you allow yourself to have the “forbidden” food, the less appealing it will become.
This means that if you find yourself overeating, or even binging on that food, when you first reincorporate it back into your life, don’t worry. That is completely normal. Overtime, the desire to overeat that food will lessen. Often within a few weeks or months that food will no longer have the same appeal. You may still really enjoy that food, but it will be much easier to stop eating it when you’re satiated because you know you can have more any time you want.