I talk about obsession vs. commitment often in regards to exercise (watch my video here); however, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how this relates to Intuitive Eating as well.
First let’s break it down
- The state of being obsessed with someone or something.
- An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.
- The act of committing or the state of being committed.
- Dedication; application
In my journey through Intuitive Eating I’ve found myself in both of these states. In the beginning I was committed – I believed in it, I wanted it, I decided to go with it. As time went on, however, my history with ED (which predisposed me in rough times to lean on religious eating patterns) led me to turn my commitment with Intuitive Eating into an obsession; rather than viewing IE as something I was choosing, something that offered freedom, I allowed myself to become enslaved by it (much like the enslavement I felt to my Eating Disorder).
I think for people who have a history of disordered eating, compulsive dieting, and/or an Eating Disorder, it is very common to find a ‘comfort zone’ in this form of enslavement. We tend to ‘thrive’ (albeit in an unhealthy way) under an eating ‘dictatorship’, if you will – whether that be under the government of ED or some new diet, or even under Intuitive Eating.
When I allowed my Intuitive Eating to turn into an obsession, I gave up the very freedom that had first attracted me to the concept. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. Intuitive Eating is not about rules, it’s aboutchoices.
See that’s what commitment is about: choices. It’s aboutchoosingto honour your cravings and your hunger/fullness signals because that is the decision you make for the sake of your health.
With commitment there is always freedom to choose. However, commitment is still commitment, which means that you are still choosing to follow the eating guidelines, but not because you have to, but because you want to – there is a difference. And because it is a choice, you also have the freedom to be gracious with yourself. You don’t have to ‘do’ Intuitive Eating perfectly. There is no ‘messing up’. No guilt. No shame. (isn’t that why we all gravitated towards it in the first place?)
If you are obsessed with IE, then your thoughts, your day, your activities revolve around it: “I can’t go for sushi with Jenny, I’m craving Tacos.” “I can’t have a piece of my birthday cake, I’m not hungry enough.” When you are committed, though, it looks a whole lot different. You are able to go for sushi if that’s what Jenny wants because you are able to be flexible. And you can eat your birthday cake because it’s your birthday for crying out loud!
As many of you know, recently I was struggling a lot with my eating habits. So when I came home for the summer with the intention of getting some much-needed rest and also working to gain back a healthy relationship with food, I found myself applying the same ‘diet mentalities’ to IE.
I found myself “Starting clean on Monday” (in other words: I will eat whatever I want in whatever quantity I want now because come Monday, the fun ends – it’s back to Intuitive Eating for me!) But then I realized that I didn’t like these feelings & thoughts I was having, I realized I was applying my diet/ED mentality to Intuitive Eating.
And then I remembered: I am not obsessed with IE, I am committed to it. This is a choice I am making for my health, a choice I already had committed to – so there was no ‘come Monday’, there was only NOW.
And ‘Now’ didn’t mean perfection, and it didn’t mean feeling guilty for my compulsive eating habits, either. It meant remembering why I wanted IE and then doing the best I could to get back into healthier eating patterns. If I overate a bit at first, that was OK, because I was still working towards Intuitive Eating, I was still committed. And commitment is an important part, otherwise we give in to our laziness (or whatever weakness) and simply don’t even try, which is also not what we want – that’s the attitude that led me to my disordered eating relapse in the first place!
I encourage you to assess your relationship with Intuitive Eating: are you committed? Or have you let your commitment turn into obsession? Remember the reasons you chose IE – the freedom of choice, the grace – and make sure those reasons still stand true for your relationship with food today.
Don’t give away your freedom.