Healthy Eating & Mental Health: The "Intuitive Eating" Way

Over the years I have enjoyed treating the ‘whole’ person. I use a ‘whole-istic' approach and focus on client’s mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual states of well-being rather than just the negative symptoms that brought them into treatment.

I help my clients set goals for their general wellness and self care, which include things like sleep, hydration, physical activity, hygiene, hobbies, passions, social time, and more—but my favorite wellness topic to work on together is EATING.

Nutrition and our often complicated relationship with food are my favorite topics to address with clients. My number one resource is the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” written by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch, two registered dietitians. The program is “evidence-based” and references research studies showing that the intuitive eating philosophy works. The authors recently came out with a workbook version, which is excellent for group or individual work, filled with journal-like sections to write in, and help practice improving your relationship with food.

Intuitive Eating (IE) wants us to get back to our roots with eating. How did we eat when we were babies and toddlers? We listened to our body’s needs and didn’t overthink it. We didn’t binge, feel guilty or ashamed about our eating, compare ourselves to others, or worry about calories. The book has a strong anti-diet-learn-to-trust-your-body-again message. It is an easy read, with case studies throughout that validate and encourage readers to move through their own IE journey. The book and workbook are framed around 10 Principles of healthy eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Respect Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition

What I found so striking about the 10 Principles was not until the very LAST two principles was there a focus on exercise or nutrition. Usually these two areas are, almost exclusively, said to be the key to all of our problems if we are struggling to lose weight—“eat better and move more”—but what about the other EIGHT principles? Traditional weight loss advice like this would be missing the preceding elements that are so crucial in truly understanding our complex relationship with food and how mental health can get in the way. This concept can give us back control over our health, wellness, and our weight once and for all.

The Intuitive Eating program and the groups I run for ‘Healthy Eating and Wellness’ do not claim to be quick fixes for weight management—but what they can be is a slow and steady, PERMANENT, and healthy solution to our health and ultimately our weight management.

Be well.

Jill C. Fimbel is a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Nashua, NH and works with clients in a wide variety of mental health issues, including weekly groups and individual therapy in her specialty of emotional-over eating and binge eating.

Links of interest:

1. Video of Jill guest speaking about Healthy Eating and Mental Health at the Pepperell, MA Senior Center in May 2018.

2. The official Intuitive Eating website for more details on the 10 Principles

3. Jill C. Fimbel’s online professional bio from The Counseling Center of Nashua

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