Dr. Kerri Fullerton ND is both a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and HAES Naturopathic Doctor
I saw a familiar and concerning pattern when I started my naturopathic practice in 2004. Patients were coming in looking for weight-loss strategies to be ‘healthy.’ So, I’d suggest changing what they ate and how they moved; I’d add some herbs or supplements and book them for their follow-up visits. The success of this approach was short-lived. They couldn’t keep it up long-term. So they’d lose some weight and gain back a little bit more. I had followed this familiar pattern many times in my life. The recommendations were never ‘life proof’ – they couldn’t withstand sick children, work stress or family emergencies. But instead of the plan being the problem, patients believed, as I had thought, that it was their fault. It wasn’t. This is why I became a certified intuitive eating counselor in 2018.
If you’ve read my About Me page, you’ll have read my story of how I finally said ENOUGH and chose the anti-diet path. I learned some very uncomfortable truths about weight loss.
- Firstly, significant weight loss doesn’t happen for the VAST majority of people. Even the advertised medications on TV don’t show anything more than a handful of pounds lost, and even that doesn’t typically last past the 2-5 year mark.
- Secondly, dietary restriction is the leading cause of bingeing. That’s right. By restricting calories or food groups we are actually setting ourselves up for failure.
When I learned about intuitive eating, I was thrilled to have found a proven system that improved one’s health AND allowed a healthy relationship with food to be restored.
Becoming a certified intuitive eating counselor merged with my naturopathic knowledge brilliantly. Naturopathic medicine is meant to look at the whole person. That means we don’t compromise someone’s mental, emotional, social or financial health for dietary or exercise recommendations.
What’s it like to work with an intuitive eating counselor?
I offer a free connection call to see if working together makes sense right now. If we agree that it is, we start with an initial assessment (for Ontario residents) or an initial coaching intake (for residents outside of Ontario). We will discuss your dieting and weight loss history and your current food and body image struggles. Together, we will establish your short-term and long-term goals and determine the frequency of visits. This will be anywhere from weekly to monthly.
Between visits, you will work on your homework. That may be to read or review a chapter of the intuitive eating book, practice a skill I taught you during the visit, complete a worksheet or any combination of these. While there is a reasonably consistent journey that most people will take learning to eat intuitively, each person is different. Each principle has nuances that will apply differently to where you are in the journey, your life, or your current circumstances.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
- Reject The Diet Mentality: weight-loss stats are dismal; nearly all, about 95%, of dieters regain their weight within 3 years, many gaining more than they lost. And of those who are ‘successful’ the weight loss is on average about 2 pounds. It’s time to reject the notion that some new plan is just waiting to solve your problems through weight loss. (reference)
- Honour Your Hunger: “once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intention of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant”. The biggest cause for overeating is undereating. This principle is about identifying what subtle hunger feels like and heeding that need.
- Make Peace with Food: the most controversial of all of the principles, making peace with food is about giving up all of the rules and conditions that surround food. This principle isn’t about eating your face off. It’s about building trust. It’s nuanced and beautiful when applied with understanding and intention.
- Challenge the Food Police: learn how to manage the voices in your head that rhyme off the macros, points or calories of every food, chastise your reflection in the mirror and take up far too much of your time.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: food is fun; food is love; food is pleasure; food is fuel. When you start to place satisfaction front and center of your eating experience, you open up to a world of connection and adventure.
- Feel Your Fullness: a principle that isn’t talked about very much. Knowing what comfortable fullness feels like AND stopping eating when it happens are two different things. Leaving a meal without feeling deprived OR stuffed is a beautiful thing.
- Cope with Your Emotions (using more than just food): emotional eating and stress eating aren’t inherently bad, they just may not be the most respectful way to manage your day. Food can always stay in your Self-Care Toolbox, this principle is about adding more tools so that you have choices.
- Respect Your Body: I might argue that this principle should be higher on the list. We take care of what we respect. Befriending your body may be the best investment you’ll ever make.
- Joyful Movement: exercise to feel your body and give it what it needs instead of punishing it for not looking right or making up for what you ate.
- Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition: this is the last principle for good reason. One cannot focus on nutrition until a healthy relationship with ones body and food is established. Otherwise, ANYTHING can be turned into a diet by the Food Police. Once that relationship is in place, then you can make food choices that honour your mouth and your body.
Together these principles make up a whole new language where your food and body is concerned. They work together to create trust: trust in the process, trust in your choices and trust in your body.
Please note: Naturopathic services are only available to residents of the Province of Ontario. If you live outside of the Province of Ontario, intuitive eating coaching programs are available.