The Feeding Self and the Eating Self

A common question people have when learning to eat normally is HOW??? How do you go from what seems like a lifetime of diets to feeling in tune with 8th your body and relaxed about food.

There are a few models for this – two I like are Evelyn Trible’s “Intuitive Eating”, and Ellyn Satter’s “Eating Competence”.

While I first jumped into the non-diet space I was a big fan of Intuitive Eating, but I’ve found that for some clients it is such a big jump, and the idea of just choosing when and what to eat based on your intuition in the moment is too scary to even contemplate.

I first came across Ellyn Satter for children, and you may have heard of the ‘division of responsibility’: that the parents choose what, when, and where about the food, and children decide if and how much they will eat.

I love this principle for kids, which helps children become Eating Competent adults

As an adult, we don’t get someone doing all that deciding for us, and that can be pretty scary, especially if we’ve been following diets that do tell us when where what and how much to eat.

This is where the division of responsibility can come in: we can see that there are two parts of us with different responsibilities: one part responsible for the adult decisions, and one part responsible for those intuitive responses in the moment, the child’s responsibilities. We can call the parent role the “Feeding Self”, and the child role the “Eating Self”.

Imagine you’re responsible for feeding a child.

What would you like to include for them? When I ask people this, they often say things like:
A mix of nutritious and delicious food, regularly, in a calm, no pressure environment.

Once your feeding self has made the decisions of what, when, where and how, it’s time to sit back and let the eating self take over: to decide which foods provided to eat, and how much of each food.

Letting the adult, parent-y part of your brain make some of the decisions means you can practice being intuitive in the moment, and you don’t have to spend the whole day wondering when to eat, and, of all the foods in the world, which ones you want.

Tips to move towards ‘Eating Competence’

  1. Plan your day of eating: 3 meals and 2-3 snacks is a good place to start. Make sure it fits in your schedule, and you don’t leave much longer than 3 hours between eating.
  2. Pick 2-3 different kinds of foods for each meal/snack
  3. Don’t restrict yourself. Eat as much of the 2-3 foods as you want, and make sure you have enough available (cost limitations are ok!).
  4. Pay attention while eating. Your brain processes lots of different information to know whether you’ve eaten enough, so attention is important.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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