Intuitive Eating: my experience

Food in 3 plates

In the latest Soul Care post about nutrition, I mention in passing that my food philosophy nowadays (after a lifetime of disordered eating of various shapes and forms) is Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is not a diet, but rediscovering the way our bodies were created to work. For me as a Catholic woman, God has made us need food, but also able to enjoy it, giving us hunger cues and other signals that indicate to us that it’s time to eat, or that we’ve had enough and we are satisfied with what we had.

This approach to nutrition originated with the work of Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the mid-90s, but it has some commonalities with previous discourses in psychology and the way the 3rd wave feminist movement looked at fat and women issues in the 70s. To this day, it appears to still be strongly linked to the fat acceptance (also referred to as liberation) movement, but I believe it shouldn’t be the stuff of radicalism and instead be the mainstream. The diet industry keeps us engaged in a rat race that replaces God’s vision for humanity with a lot of negative feelings life self-loathing, desire for controlling and punishing the body for just existing and taking space and moralising our food choices even when we’re in no real danger to our health, and so far the best option I have found to counteract this mentality is Intuitive Eating. 

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The Soul Care Series: Nutrition

Breakfast

Everyone and their dog has an opinion on diets in general, and often on your diet in particular, so I feel a bit guilty for adding more noise to that conversation, but as I see more and more dubious books propping up in the Christian (and specifically Catholic) sphere I think we are at high risk of being absorbed into the culture that surrounds us rather than transforming it. Diets like the not-a-diet “Light Weigh” programme, and intermittent fasting lifestyles like the one promoted in Eat, Fast Feast walk the very thin line between challenging Western comfort in order to help our spiritual lives, and spiritualising weight loss because that’s the standard of the world we live in. 

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The Soul Series: Fitness

FitnessLast week we talked about the fourth pillar of holistic health in general, physical health. In the next few installments of this series, I’d like to have a look at the components that make it up in a few more details. I will start with fitness because it is the one that is usually used as a synonym, but also one that can be dangerous for Catholics as it’s often idolised even among Christians, in an attempt to steer clear from more gnostic views of the body/soul relationship. You might be familiar with the emphasis on physicality that is almost militaristic in contemporary views of “traditional masculinity” such as those behind the popular spiritual exercise called Exodus 90. Under their Asceticism rules, fairly close to the top (at least on the website as it is at time of writing), regular and intense exercise is part of their practices that are seen as both penance and an offering. 

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The Soul Care Series: Physical Health

Doctor with stethoscope

We’re at last at the final pillar of the 4 pillars of holistic health, physical health. It sounds like an obvious topic, but there are a lot of misconceptions about it. First of all, as you might have guessed from my insistence on referring to holistic health, one of them is the idea that physical health is all that there is to it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO, 1948). However, when we are looking at the physical component, the absence of disease or infirmity is a common baseline. The use of infirmity needs to be clarified, because plenty of people with disabilities are as healthy as humanly possible. 

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The Soul Care Series: Spiritual Health

Woman's hands on BibleI had no idea when I sat down with my pretty mint organizer and fountain pen to think of topics for this blog in the coming months that I would be writing about spiritual health at such a time as this (if you are stumbling upon this post later than its publication, it’s the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “spiritual health refers to that part of the individual which reaches out and strives for meaning and purpose in life. It is the intangible ‘something’ that transcends physiology and psychology”. For us Catholics it’s not a difficult definition, we are in the realm of the soul.

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