what kind of eater are you?
On the journey to reconnect with and listen to our bodies, we can find ourselves overcome by how far away we are from intuitive eating. In our culture, eating is something that we don't make intentional time for, or has many emotions attached to it either through emotional eating or through shame and guilt cycles that come of eating foods we've labeled as "good" or "bad."
Being an intuitive eater is being an unaffected eater. The intuitive eater eats what they want when they're hungry, without guilt or pressures from a diet mentality. Our intuitive eater exists in us as children - studies have shown us that toddlers, when given the chance and freedom, regulate their eating according to what their bodies need for growth (New England Journal of Medicine, 1991). This intuitive eater that we've all had at some point in our lives gets buried underneath the messages that our societies give us about how we "should" eat, what our parents' taught us about eating, and the confusion in the nutritional world (largely due to studies funded by soda and sugar conglomerates and advertising).
Learning to get back in touch with your body requires becoming aware and acknowledging where you are right now. There's no shame or negativity around what eating type you identify as - awareness serves to shine a light, so that we can begin to make shifts towards alignment with our bodies and our health.
As you look over this list of eating styles, you may find more than one resonate with you. We all occupy more than one of these spaces at some points! Start by recognizing where you are currently, and what eating style you move to when you're in periods of stress. Acknowledge the feelings that come up for you as you find what fits for you, and know that growth can only happen when we acknowledge dissatisfaction with where we are, and have motivation to change. Allow this to be a starting point in your journey back to yourself.
Summary of Eating Styles (adapted from Intuitive Eating)
The Careful Eater
Trigger: Fitness and Health
Characteristics: Appears to be the perfect eater, yet anguishes over each food morsel and its effect on the body. On the surface, this person seems health and fitness oriented. Inside, they’re straight tweaking.
The Unconscious Eater
Trigger: Eating while doing something else at the same time
Characteristics: This person is often unaware that she is eating, or how much is being eaten. To sit down and simply eat is often viewed as a waste of time. Eating is usually paired with another activity to be productive. There are four subtypes.
Subtype 1: The Chaotic Unconscious Eater
Trigger: Overscheduled life
Characteristics: This person’s eating style is haphazard – gulp ‘n go when the food is available. Seems to thrive on tension.
Subtype 2: The Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater
Trigger: Presence of food
Characteristics: This person is especially vulnerable to candy jars, or food present in meetings or sitting openly on the kitchen counter.
Subtype 3: The Waste-Not Unconscious Eater
Trigger: Free food
Characteristics: This person’s eating drive is often influenced by the value of the food dollar and is susceptible to all-you-can-eat buffets and free food.
Subtype 4: The Emotional Unconscious Eater
Trigger: Uncomfortable emotions
Characteristics: Stress of uncomfortable feelings trigger eating – especially when alone. Aka - eating your feelings.
The Professional Dieter
Trigger: Feeling fat
Characteristics: This person is perpetually dieting, often trying the latest commercial diet or diet book. Quickest route to weight gain and self-loathing.
The Intuitive Eater
Trigger: Biological hunger
Characteristics: This person makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma. Honors hunger, respects fullness, enjoys the pleasure of eating.