Making Peace With Food

It’s been less than a month that I started eating chicken again. But in this short time I have made huge strides with Intuitive Eating! Eating more protein has really helped me be aware of my hunger and fullness. Also, now that I have meat on my radar I’ve been having cravings for random things. Like today I had a crazy need to eat hard boiled eggs! So, I made a batch and had one as a mid-morning snack. hard boiled egg

Lunch was a massive salad topped with leftover Shepherd’s pie, hummus and a thick piece of TJ’s Tuscan ww Pane. So.good. big salad for lunch

Now it’s time for some Intuitive Eating stuff. If this isn’t your thing, please pass it on Smile

One of the questions I get most often about Intuitive Eating is about how to Make Peace with Food. It is the third step of IE after 1.) Reject the diet mentality and 2.) Honor your hunger. intuitive eating book

From Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Recsh’s website, this is the description of Making Peace with Food:

Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

So if you’re here you should already have realized Diets don’t work and you’re aiming for a life style change. Also, that you should eat when you’re hungry to take care of your body. You still with me? Okay, then we can proceed…

Making peace with food is another way of saying – There are NO bad or forbidden foods.

You can no longer say, “I can’t eat brownies.” Or if you pass up birthday cake because it’s high in calories when you really want a piece – then, you’re doing it wrong.

True, there are times when you may  pass up something indulgent because you don’t want to feel overly full or uncomfortable – and that is okay. But, if you are denying yourself something you really want because of the calorie count spinning through your head than you are not making peace with food.

Food is not bad. Stabbing someone is bad (unless they’re trying to steal your food, then it’s permissible). But, food shouldn’t have good or bad labels.

Healthy and un-healthy labels? Maybe. But not “good” or “bad”.

Yeah, but how do you do that?

Well, for me it was a very long process. I used to tell myself I shouldn’t eat cereal any more and in preparation to “give up” cereal I would binge on it. I probably ended up eating  a week’s worth of it in one day. So, giving it up for a week was canceled out. Fanfreakingtastic.

This happened with a few different foods when I was trying to create a diet to help me lose weight. I would swear off ice cream or white bread or Clif bars only to end up eating them more because I thought I couldn’t or shouldn’t.

Finally I told myself it was all good. I could eat any food I wanted, but I should only eat it until I’m full. Since years of binging and restricting had killed my hunger signals, this was very hard.

I over ate these newly “okayed” foods sometimes. But, since I knew I could have them again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that… I didn’t feel the need to eat the whole box now.

Slowly I realized that if I eat 4 bowls of cereal I feel bloated afterwards. Plus, I’m still hungry after! And when I eat ice cream while standing in the kitchen at 4 o’clock in the afternoon I feel like crap for the rest of the night.

So, when I bought dark chocolate peanut butter cupsin October I joked that I would eat them all in one night. A lot of readers said they wouldn’t be able to control themselves if they had these in the house. dark chocolate PB cups

But, the reality is – they lasted for a few weeks between Ben and I. Sure I may have had one too many for dessert a few times, but I never shoved them in my mouth in an out of control binge either.

I know that if I eat 8 PB cups I’m going to feel crappy. My stomach won’t really hurt (because it’s an iron cauldron and I can really eat anything), but my energy will rise and plummet so I’m useless, and my blood sugar will want to be spiked back up and instigate me to binge.

I learned that the hard way, but now I know.

Even though I have made Peace with Food there are still times when I over do it. There are times when I amthisclose to buying the new Cinnamon Cheerios, but put them back on the shelf (even after they’re ridden around the entire store with me in happy anticipation of being eaten) because I know I’m in a bad place mentally and will eat them all that night. That happened this weekend. cinnamon burst cherries

So, like so many other things in healthy living it’s a balance. I let myself have full permission to eat things that were formerly forbidden like granola, ice cream, cheese. But I also try and pay attention to how I feel and how I want to feel for the rest of the day.

If I want energy to run tomorrow then I should eat a good meal for dinner. If I want to avoid binging in the afternoon I should have nut butter with breakfast. And if I don’t want to feel bloated for the rest of the night then I shouldn’t eat 4 bowls of cereal, a Vitatop with PB and a handful of chocolate chips for dessert. Not that I do that. Anymore.


  1. says

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been trying really hard to make peace with food.
    For me, pasta was always a food I was sorta scared of. I’m not the biggest fan of it but I think it’s mostly because it scares me. I just moved to Italy for 5 months, and I’ve been trying to change my perspective not only on pasta (that’s only one example) but food in general.
    Yesterday, I walked past nutella at the store about 3 times. I didn’t buy it out of fear that I would binge. I hope to one day make peace with the fact that nutella is delicious and should be enjoyed.

  2. says

    Great post! Or maybe I like it because I am waiting for the pizza man to come? :) I do agree that making foods off-limits just leads to binging. I’ve also found that if they are not off-limits I stop wanting them because they don’t make me feel good. I still struggle with listening to my body and knowing when it’s full, but I am sure that will come.

  3. says

    I am definitely torn between the calorie counting I do and the idea of intuitive eating. I like IE a lot. I like the concept. I think I do a pretty good job of incorporating IE into my life while STILL counting calories and eating in moderation.

    I do not deny myself any foods. There are foods that I probably wouldn’t eat now that I am a calorie counter and conscious of healthy living but at the same time I’m not restricting myself.

    What I do works for me. If I was stricter with my calorie counting I’d lose weight (those last 7 pounds) but I don’t care to deny myself things I want and crave.

    • says

      I’m totally on the same page with this – I know if I counted I could lose the weight I’m struggling with, but I don’t want it to be the most important thing in my life so I don’t.

  4. says

    Great post! I have a huge problem with eating too little during the day and then binging at night on cereal. I have dealt with eating disorders for the last 13 years and my hunger and fullness signals are so messed. I rarely feel either hungry or full and it makes eating and listening to my body very difficult. I have “Intuitive Eating” and need to break it out and make the commitment to reading it.

    • says

      I used to eat too little during the day and binge on cereal (or something similar) every night for years. It was scary to eat more during the day, sometimes I still ate at night, but for the most part I was able to control it because I wasn’t hungry.

  5. says

    This is definitely something I’m working on. I tried it and ended up binge eating a lot, because I was so used to counting calories. (Speaking of binging… I bought a tub of those PB cups and ate the whole thing in one sitting. Not my proudest moment!) But I’m a lot better about eating foods that were once off limits, like you mentioned- especially granola. It used to be a huge trigger food- once I had some, I just HAD to have the whole box.

    I love reading about other people’s experience with intuitive eating- it gives me hope that one day I can have that kind of control :)

  6. says

    Thanks for your post! I was literally about to go overboard on this half of a leftover cinnamon roll even though I’m going out for pizza with friends for dinner (side note: why do I scarf horribly unhealthy foods while reading healthy living blogs?), but luckily I read your post about halfway through and threw the rest of it away. I have been doing better lately, but it’s still a struggle. Thanks for being honest and sharing yours!

  7. says

    Hey! Awesome post! I am also trying to get over the ‘good food vs. bad food’ mental game that we are all inundated with! I am a HUGE cereal, peanut butter and chocolate finatic!! I can eat PB by the spoonful and then eat a Ritter Sport in about 4.6 seconds. I could eat cereal every meal of the day, and for a few snacks in between. Your post stood out because I am doing the “how many points is this” tally everytime I eat. When I have hungry days, I still find myself trying to stay on the lower side of points, then I still feel hungry. It is a hard change to make, but thanks for bringing it up…I might have to go make a trip to the library (not much here in Oki for books that I would like to read!)

    • says

      Yeah, when your life is ruled by points or calories or whatever – you aren’t paying attention to what your stomach is telling you. Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Some days will be higher than others, but some days you’re just hungrier than others and we read way too much into that.

  8. says

    Balance is so important. Unfortunately some foods ARE bad for me. I can’t eat certain foods in any amount because of the extreme pain I would feel afterwards. Gluten, raw onions, citrus, sometimes apples, and a couple others that I haven’t been able to pin down yet. Having foods that are, in fact, “off limits” makes life a bit harder, but not impossible.

    • says

      Yeah, I guess it’s a different story if the foods are actually bad for you. That would be really rough for me since I have a long history of negative relationships with foods. You are a very strong girl :)

  9. says

    such a great post Monica. I just started rereading Geneen Roth’s Breaking Free From Emotional Eating and it’s definitely reminding me of the things you brought up in this post. i’m happy to see you enjoying food more an fueling your body the way it need to be. you were my inspiration for running and fueling!

  10. Chelsea says

    Thanks so much for this post. I am really trying to work on intuitive eating. I’ve gotten much better with not under-eating during the day and fueling myself with better quality, whole foods. This has definitely helped curb my desire to binge, but I still struggle with the habit of it, both as a emotional coping mechanism and during times/situation where I used to always overeat (home alone at night, etc) even though the physical craving is gone. When the desire hits, I try to take a moment to think about it first, and though I’m not always successful, remembering how crappy it’s going to make me feel later, and choosing not to go there, is really helpful. I’ve been struggling a bit more lately, but this was a great reminder.

    • says

      That was always my argument with the RD – If I eat more during the day I’m still going to eat at night because it’s a habit and I do it to cope with things. True. Kinda.
      Stopping the physical craving does help A LOT with being able to at least realize it. Even if you don’t stop it every time you are at a better place to learn from it because it’s not a physical need.

      Good luck :)

  11. says

    I read this book a few months ago. Didn’t go so well for me. After many, many years of Weight Watchers… I think I went a little crazy. I just read Bethanny Frankel’s book, and thinking about her Naturally Thin Program and Intuitive Eating together helps me a little more.

    Just wanted to also thank you for posting the photo of the peanut butter cups! I was just sitting here trying to decide what I wanted for dessert and I totally forgot that I had them in my cabinet! Now let’s see if I can just eat two and stop there…

    • says

      If you forgot they were even in the cabinet than you’re doing better than me :) WW made me really food obsessed, but once I had some time away from that I was able to get back to my body’s needs.

  12. says

    Great post! I love boild eggs with salt and pepper. I battle the to eat chicken vs to not eat chicken??? I have mixed feelings, but for now eat chicken..tomorrow, who knows? Yes I know I am very uncommitted and have a hard time making

  13. says

    Long time lurker – not sure why this post made me come out of hiding – but I LOVE the concept of intuitive eating. I think it’s so healthy and you really do end up understanding what your body likes. I swear by not focusing on what I CAN’T have, I eat less.

    I have so many friends who try to cut out certain bad foods only to binge on them later and totally regret it. I know I did this too (and who did I think I was kidding?). I think it took until my first pregnancy to realize that I really enjoy eating and that you CAN eat without being a blimp. It’s all about healthy choices and moderation.

    Now I’m rambling, but thanks for this post!

  14. Sarah says

    As someone who struggles daily with binge eating, I truly appreciate the honesty you put into your blog. The challenge certainly is not an easy one and there are days when it is hard to believe that there will come a time when I will truly be at peace with food. I think I have damaged myself too much and now know way too much to ever truly be “normal.” your blog gives me hope that there is some light at the end of this tunnel.

    • says

      Thank you.
      I know it’s tough, especially when you feel like you’ve messed yourself up so much :( But, your body is very smart and strong and it will figure out what it needs and learn how to tell you (if you’re listening). Good luck :)

  15. Meg says

    Thanks for this post! I feel like I’ve had the same problems for years and no one else I know seems to have any suggestions to help. I eat fairly normally throughout the day, but I’m like another person at night and I’ll eat like I’m not going to wake up in the morning! I’m getting better at telling myself “you’re full, you don’t need to eat two bowls of cereal right after dinner” and try to find something else to do. It’s just good to know someone else has had to work through a similar situation and has good tips to share! :) Thanks!!

  16. says

    This post is why I originally started reading your blog. Please continue to blog as much as possible and live it as much as possible. This is the sustainance I need to continue my IE journey. I also want to recommend the book “Eating Mindfully” by Dr. Susan Albers and “Diet Survivors” by Judith Matz.

  17. lisa says

    Hi! I just want to firstly tell you that you’re an inspiration to me! :) So pretty much my situation is i had been eat cleaning for months. to me that meant a meal plan like oats, egg whites, cinnamon, chia seeds for breakfast and lean chicken turkey, sweet potatoes, coconut oil and lots of veggies for other meals. I was very clean and was strict on sodium and macros. i worked out almost every morning and i was lean and toned. i followed lots of your recipes and ideas too!:) but then i went on a three week vacation. i binged everyday. i would stuff myself full of ben and Jerry’s, ritz crackers, peanut m&ms, animal crackers, sushi, chocolate and other junk. i never enjoyed any of it though,i would punish myself by eating. i am depriving myself of veggies, water and wearing makeup because i hate myself now. i am not sure why either. anyway now i crave all that junk. i used to never crave that crap:( i am so frustrated i dont have the small, cute, toned body i used to! i put on 10 lbs!! 10 real lbs, its not water weight cuz its been a while. i am chunky, cellulitely, and self conscious. i have a small frame so 10 lbs looks bad. i am kinda lost in what to do. somedays i just cry myself to sleep because i am so repulsed by the way i look. i want to get out of this rut! i want to be small and lean again, i just feel like i have no self control because i seriously eat so much(emotional though).i cant feel full or hunger so its hard to know when to stop. i feel the desire to eat and i feel cranky when its been over 4 hours.. Anyway, what do you suggest? what are your thoughts? would a strict meal plan help? maybe with a few treats then cut down throughout the week? i am so desperate for help! Well, thank you!


    • says

      Hey Lisa,
      Sorry you’re having a tough time. I’m not a doctor so I would suggest going to take to a RD or therapist since they can help you a lot better than I can. Sounds like maybe you were too strict for that time and your body was rebelling. You need to get back to a place of healthy, moderation. Stop being frustrated with yourself and take it as a learning experience. It’s great to eat 100% clean, but maybe you needed a break and didn’t give it to yourself. Take a step back, take a breath and just eat healthy today. And call a doctor on Monday – it would really help! Hang in there :)

  18. Andrea says

    Thanks for this post! That was so me with the cereal and the deprivation. My mom always tells me “everyday is a new day.” Last year I would always think well I had this today do I can’t have something simliar to this until the next week or longer. Or I thought I can’t have this becuase I’ve binged on it before and it will make me sick and fat. I’m getting closer in the healing process, but I still have some morphed thinking in terms of food and excersize. I’ll be reading more.

  19. Rebecca says

    I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but I just stumbled upon it today. I’ve been following you blog for a few months, and let me tell you, you are truly an inspiration! I like how you’re so active AND you eat REAL FOOD! It’s so refreshing to see a fitness blogger have a healthy appetite instead of grazing on salads all the time and claim that they’re satisfied. I had been frequenting those types of blogs as well and it has had a negative impact on my well-being and relationship with food. After reading your post, one of my New Year’s resolutions is going to be to try and make peace with food. I had been logging every single thing that I eat, counting calories like a crazy woman, and severely restricting what I eat…only to binge and feel like crap intermittently. I hit an all-time low last weekend and realize it’s time to take care of myself and respect my body. It’s not going to be easy, but your blog and positive attitude make it a little less daunting! Thank you!

  20. Paula says

    Hey, great post!

    Another thing that I was thinking about this morning with regards to this is we have been told what to eat for a long time and the science keeps changing, is conflicted etc.

    I say enough!!! Intuitive eating will nourish me well enough. Fear of foods is really not a healthy attitude for me.

    I love it that there are others who are seeing the insanity of allowing only the experts tell us what to eat.

    It is like the doctors who shamed women in the 50’s for breast feeding their kids. How dumb is that???????

  21. says

    Oh man, this makes so much sense. My husband and I attempted South Beach for a while last fall, and it stressed me out so much trying to keep track of what I could and couldn’t eat, and made me want the “bad” stuff so much more. Getting away from all the processed crap has been good though, and I actually don’t really even crave it anymore (okay, once in a while I want something chocolatey or some wicked good truffle fries at a burger joint in town, but if I do get them, I don’t go too crazy!). We both got a good start on our goals by trying out South Beach and going from NO exercise to run/walking 3x a week, but I think I made myself feel waaaaay too guilty if I ate something I felt I shouldn’t. Now we’ve both been stuck on a plateau since before Christmas, but we’ve started running consistently again and are starting to incorporate strength training too. I think that I’m going to break up with the scale for a while as well…seeing the number hover within like a 3-4 pound range for the past 2 months has been frustrating, and is keeping me from focusing on all the GOOD I’m doing for myself. I’m hoping that all of this combined will help me to make peace with my body, and make peace with what I stuff in my face. 😉

  22. says

    This post really resonated with me. I just discovered your blog but I’m hoping to learn more about intuitive eating from you. I want to be able to stop beating myself up for indulging every now and then!

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