When I first approach the topic of intuitive eating with clients and touch on an “all foods fit” approach, I frequently get the same question…but aren’t some foods actually better than others? First, I would ask what your definition of “better” is. Aside from that nuance, I know that most people are thinking of health in terms of nutrient density (the amount of vitamins or minerals in a food). In that case, my answer is yes! Some foods do have more nutrients than others. I won’t argue with you on that fact, but I will stand firm that I still believe all foods can fit in a healthy, balanced diet.
Despite the fact that fruits and vegetables have more vitamins and fiber than a donut, I would not exclude those donuts! This is very counter cultural in our society where diets and health reign supreme. Since this opinion that all can coexist in a healthy diet is so against the grain, it is often harped on MUCH more than the gentle nutrition part of intuitive eating. With so many people (all my other intuitive eating RDs!!) working so hard to normalize all foods, sometimes people get the message that intuitive eating is all about donuts and pizza. So let’s bust that myth…
As an intuitive eater, the point is not to eat pizza everyday. The goal is to be OK mentally and emotionally with eating pizza when you want it – and not be so thrown into anxiety that your eating habits shift entirely to extremes. Often times, eating a food that has been labeled as ‘bad’ by diet culture will cause a person to restrict afterwards either in quantity of food or types of food allowed. Being intuitive means listening to your body and honoring what it wants. If you truly want some fruit after having a dessert or a burger, great! Go for it! If you want another cookie after having a cookie, also great. Go for it! As you tune into what you want and need, you will also be more aware of how you feel after having different foods.
Our bodies naturally crave variety. Has there ever been a time when you are the same thing, or same type of food, for a while and later wanted anything but that? I use the example a lot of going on vacation and eating out everyday only to come home craving nothing but a home cooked meal! That’s natural variety! Often, when we prioritize ‘fun’ foods for a while and give ourselves what is satisfying, we will later notice that nutrient dense foods are sounding satisfying. There is no timeline to this, so it’s important to continue to honor your cravings no matter how long they last.
Time and time again, I have seen clients work through this process and come out feeling so much more SANE around all foods. It is so important to remember that the exploration phase is temporary. It might feel CRAZY now to be allowing yourself all the foods you crave, and that’s ok. That is how you build a healthy relationship with food…let them alllll in. It won’t feel so hard forever.