You know the rules...these rules...
Ever wonder why toddlers are so freaking difficult where food is concerned? Well, it's because they don't know not to listen to their bodies yet - we have taught ourselves 'rules' around when and what we eat - they don't know these, so they break them to honor their bodies...yeah, they are listening to nature to nurture their bodies...they break rules that someone else, very well meaning, are putting on them because it doesn't make sesnse for their bodies. You see...:
⦁Toddlers are stubborn - they eat what they want, when they want, as much as they want and then they are off again ---- They eat what is fastest and gives them energy, or what tastes good. They know, instictually, that food makes them feel good - physically and emotionally at times. They eat when they are hungry - it doesn't always fit in to our adult life schedules, but they are listening to their bodies and bodies don't always go by our conscience timeline. they eat as much as their body needs - sometimes that's 3 bites right now, sometimes that's 3 plates. What they eat depends on what their body needs right then. When they take off and get on to other, better (in their mind) things, then they may get hungry again soon after they weren't hungry - they hadn't burned off all their energy, they didn't need more...they don't know the rule of 'eat when food is given because we have to', they know natures rule of 'eat when I'm hungry and what my body needs to go again'
⦁Toddlers waste food, sometimes the best food - like cake! ---- Sure a toddler may take a few bites of cake even if they aren't hungry because it tastes yummy and food is fun and celebratory - but they may waste 1/2 of that cake! They may want a bite, then to run, then a bite, and then to run - why? Because it is a yummy satisfying thing, just like running and playing is. They may not have room for more cake right now or the attention span for more cake right now - doesn't mean they don't want o have cake, they just want to experience the joy like they can experience the toy over there
⦁Toddlers are always on the go! Sometimes so much that they can't be bothered to sit for a meal - then 20 minutes later want food - WHA?! ---- Toddlers are busy - they are learning the world, exploring new places, meeting new people, touching new things, singing new words, playing new instruments (like the table that sounds like a drum), learning new exercises (like bouncing on a booth seat). Those things are fun and learning and when those are around why would you stop to eat a meal when you aren't hungry? They know how to eat, subconsciously they know that food fuels them but they don't need fuel for their body right now, they need to go expand their mind and experiences!
⦁Toddlers do not care if they are bigger than the toddler next to them, they have no need for that information. ---- They have much better things to worry about concerning the toddler next to them than size - like can they get that toy that they have because they want to play with something like that. They want to know if they can run fast to catch up with them. They want to know if they can hug them because they love them. They want to know if they can dry their tears with a new toy or sit and cry with them because them being sad makes them sad. Toddlers don't care anymore about their body size compared to another toddler than they do if that other toddler wears the same size shoe as they do - maybe they realize that, just like we all have different shoe sizes and that's totally normal, we all have different body sizes and that's totally normal (and trying to fit our body size into someone elses body size is as uncomfortable and unnatural as wearing a shoe that's 2 sizes too small!)
⦁Toddlers get cranky, restless, and angry when they are hungry - they also get cranky, restless, angry, and stubborn when they aren't hungry and are made to eat. ---- Ever heard of hangry?? That can be a toddler when they need food - fuel. They need it and they need it now. They will defend their need with fits, tears, kicking, screaming - because they are listening to their bodies needs. Also, if they are being forced to eat when they don't need food, per their bodies cues, they will defend the fact that eating then makes them feel just as yucky and cranky as it feels to not eat. They know their body cues - they don't know time cues...they reject the rules because it doesn't makes sense to their bodies
Concept number 1 (of 10): Reject the diet mentality.
Sounds easy right? Be a toddler! Listen to your body! Free for all!! Go to h e double hockey sticks you diet rules! Get out! I can eat what I want, when I want, as much as I want and I will be rolling my my new healthy life in no time! Sure - that's what that may seem like, but, just like everything we have taught ourselves that have led us down the wrong road of up and down success and failures, we have to teach ourselves what this really means.
Rejecting the diet mentality means that we have to become more toddler like, we have to listen to our body and do what is right for us - our mind, body, and soul in order to live our best lives...and, get this, our best life may not be that number we (or someone else) determined on the scale or the size we think we should be (remember those shoe sizes?!) but how our body functions at it's best - energized, rested, minimal aches and pains, mind clarity, even things like hormone levels. Yep, we need more help, outside help sometimes especially for things like aches, pains, and hormone levels - there are so many factors. What is amazing is the difference in what that outside help (medicines, additional hormones, etc) looks like when we are giving our body, as well as mind and soul, what it really needs.
Just as we were born with an instinct to know that we need to latch on and suckle to get life sustaining nutrients through food, we also were born with a natural instinct of fueling our body with food to energize us and to allow us to grow. We also equate food with love - because giving us life sustaining food is love. What we have done along the way as we have grown into adulthood is taken those things, those cues, from what is nature to nurture ourselves to what we have learned through situations or imposed experiences and skewed it into a diet culture.
So, this Intuitive Eating (IE) thing is learning to 'break the rules' we learned throughout our lives that undid or morphed what nature taught us into something we/someone else thought it should be. It's learning to listen to our bodies and give it what it needs to feel good and keep going. It's learning things we didn't know as a child - like sometimes we do have to eat when we aren't totally hungry because when we are, we won't have access to food...but we do need to still eat to keep us going. It's learning to listen to our body queues. Yes, have the cake, but if you are satisfied after 2 bites, then be satisfied - you don't have to scarf down the rest of the piece just because it's there and likely feel like crap later - or have the whole thing but know you will feel like crap later and you still need to deal with the underlying feelings that lead you to want the whole thing. It's learning that you may do that because of other things that you've went through like food insecurity (there may have been times that you knew you wouldn't have food again for a while so you eat everything you can when you can), or restrictions of sugars/carbs (so load up now), or imposing restrictions on your foods because it will help you loose weight and look good (while possibly starving your brain, feeding blockages, fueling unhealthy hormone changes, changing your personality, etc.) - all things that we learned that make us feel gross, but we continue to do because if we just 'push through' we will start to adapt and 'feel good' about it. It's about learning to move your body because it's good for you to be active, remember the toddler, but not obsessing and hurting our body by 'no pain no gain' or 'never miss a Monday' or 'I don't need a rest day' or 'I'll move tomorrow, or maybe next Tuesday' or 'I can't do anything because I can't do what everyone else does'...but moving our body in ways that make our bodies happy and secure as well as make US happy. It's re-learning those amazing things we knew as a toddler that kept us feeling good - smiling - playing - exploring - LIVING life.
Is it easy? Nope, it's really not - we are stubborn as adults too. We know the rules, we know what 'worked for us before' (yet did it completely?) - we know that we are 'supposed' to do things and not supposed to do things - or do we?