Intuitive Eating helps us deal with uncertainty

Let’s face it, we don’t tend to love life’s uncertainties. It’s ok – being uncomfortable with uncertainty is human and completely normal. If it’s any consolation, one of my favorite books is Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty (get it just for the title).

Naturally, we like to feel as though we are in charge, that we are safe, that we know. Uncertainty pulls the rug out from under us and keeps us from making plans, forming our thoughts, even feeling secure moment to moment.

And yet, if uncertainty is the true state of affairs, then are we better off trying to find a workaround or learning to tolerate it?

Fortunately, there are many methods known to help us tolerate and accept uncertainty. Meditation and mindfulness are on that list. But today I’m focusing on the practice of Intuitive Eating.

So much of Intuitive Eating is shifting our allegiance from external factors that tell us what, when, how much, etc. to internal factors. Those external factors tend to be quantitative – dinner is a 6, the serving size for rice is a 1/2 cup, this food is better than that food.

On the other hand, internal factors tend to be more qualitative and therefore less certain. Take hunger levels, for example:

“I’m thinking about lunch even though I’m not that hungry because I didn’t sleep well last night and I’m bored. Am I a hunger level of 1 or 2? Does it matter?”

“I’m way past my middle way of hunger and am feeling really uncomfortable. Sometimes when I’m this hungry I overeat. Am I a hunger level of 8 or 9? Who cares! I’m just going to try to pay attention and be as present as possible.”

“I’m at that sweet spot of hunger when food tastes the best and I can eat most mindfully – is it a 4 or a 5? Actually the more important question is whether I want mushrooms or anchovies on my pizza.”

Intuitive Eating invites us to engage in our lives even when we aren’t 100% certain. Over time, this translates into navigating uncertainty with more grace, patience, and compassion (not to mention seeing the reality that certainty neither exists nor makes us safe).

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