For as long as I can remember, I've been stuck in "diet culture." Honestly, I didn't even know I was until I found out that constantly obsessing about calories and carbs wasn't normal. The weight loss commercials I watched growing all had drilled into my head that I had to be skinny to be accepted by society so that's what I strived for. However, that didn't work out too well as I developed an eating disorder and an unhealthy relationship with food. As I've grown up, I've realized there are other approaches to eating such as Intuitive Eating that Evelyn Tribole has co-created and Tribole's new book, "Intuitive Eating for Every Day: 365 Daily Practices & Inspirations to Rediscover the Pleasures of Eating" offers advice that can help change your life.  

5 Tips From Evelyn Tribole on Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating "is a life-changing path to cultivating a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. It is an antidote to the chronic worry about what to eat and feeling at war with your body. It’s the path to freedom with a return to the joy of eating—through self-connection." 

With this in mind, I turned to Tribole to ask for some tips about reshaping my relationship with food, and here's what I learned. While this is only a tidbit of advice, Tribole's book "Intuitive Eating for Every Day: 365 Daily Practices & Inspirations to Rediscover the Pleasures of Eating" goes into greater detail about the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating with exercises, mantras and helpful information to help shift your mindset at mealtime. 

1. Choose Your Words Wisely

This is definitely a practice that is easier said than done. We've all had those moments where we've said, "I ate so bad today" or "I was so healthy today" when talking about food. However, Tribole urges people to practice shifting away from that mentality by being mindful of language. 

"One of the most easiest things you can do is to be mindful of your language and how you’re describing food in terms of moralistic terms," Tribole said. "It’s a pretty straightforward thing to do, but the emphasis is on your own practice and language and what words you can use to describe it and looking beyond food to the connection with your body in terms of how it tastes and moving away from binary language."

2. Move Away From The Assumption That Body Size Equals Heath

I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of thinking this way. As a plus-size person, I've been led to believe that I will never be healthy or worthy until I'm "skinny." However, as I've grown, I've realized that is not true and Tribole can say the same. 

"Assumption that certain body size means health or fitness and we really need to move away from this," Tribole said. "We need to frame our language even around health, and that’s looking at the bigger picture that health is more than the physical - it also includes our mental and social health." 

3. Honor Your Hunger

As a society, we've been told for so long to suppress hunger signals because eating "too much" is not good. As a result, many people have forgotten how to honor their hunger. This might sound like a simple concept, but do you know when you're hungry or full aside from when you're "hangry" or "stuffed?"

When talking about hunger signals, "One of the signs of pleasant hunger is thinking of food. There’s no urgency to it as opposed to the opposite being “hangry” when there’s a profound mood change with it," Tribole said. "Some people feel kind of lethargic, sometimes there is difficulty in focus and concentration, etc." 

Note, hunger and fullness cues are different for each person and these are more general characteristics that Tribole has come across throughout her career.

4. Practice Is Key

If we could snap our fingers and erase years of diet culture mentality that has been drilled into our heads, I think everyone would do that. However, that's not the case, so instead practicing mindful eating is key. 

"It takes awareness in the beginning. It's a process and a practice."

5. Everyone's Journey With Intuitive Eating Is Different

Intuitive Eating as a practice is not a "one-size-fits-all." People are different and have varying hunger and fullness cues, preferences and other factors that can play into their personal experience. Remember, regardless of your experience, practicing Intuitive Eating is a chance to be in-tune with your body and listen to what it needs. 

"Intuitive eating was created as an intention or process/framework to help cultivate a healthy relationship with food, mind and body," Tribole said. "We focus on the experiences with our patients and what’s going to happen with their body is their own individual journey. It’s not about weight and changing the size of your body."