Joyful Eating is essentially my food and nutrition philosophy. It underpins my book and approach as a nutritionist, writer and recipe developer.
The Philosophy of Joyful Eating
The philosophy of Joyful Eating involves ditching the diet mentality. It involves eating without restriction or deprivation, and without the guilt and shame that may follow. It allows you to release the stress of dieting and attempting to control your body.
Joyful Eating requires you to draw your full awareness to the experience of eating. It’s surrendering completely to the appearance, smell, taste, and sensation of food as you eat, without labelling the food as healthy or unhealthy, fattening or naughty. It involves recognising that the meaning you might ascribe to the food you eat is not reality. The food you eat does not define who you are or your self-worth.
When you embrace Joyful Eating, you realise that your use of food as a comfort or distraction, or something to provide self-love, is not a personal failing. It’s the reliance on diets that perpetuates discontentment in your body and erodes trust in your body and yourself around food. The thing is, there is nothing you need to do or accomplish to be worthy of self-love and acceptance, just as you are.
Joyful Eating involves recognising your body’s cues that it’s hungry, as distinguished from food labels, eating rules, habitual or emotional reasons for eating. It involves an awareness of how your body feels in response to the food you eat, while recognising that there is no perfect way to nourish your body and mind. Instead, Joyful Eating enables you to spontaneously make food choices to feel good: physically, mentally and emotionally.
When you embrace Joyful Eating, you can appreciate that food provides pleasure and nourishment, and that there are other ways to cope with your emotions without food. You recognise that embracing the joy of eating and your sense of aliveness is your highest priority in each moment… without having to change a thing.
The Principles of Joyful Eating
The food and nutrition philosophy of Joyful Eating is underpinned by eight principles shared in my book, Joyful Eating: How to Break Free of Diets and Make Peace with Your Body.
The principles serve more so as a summary of the key messages addressed in Joyful Eating. There is considerably more depth behind them.
Principle 1. Abandon dieting
You are not a failure for being unable to achieve or maintain results with a diet. Diets fail you because they promote immense hunger, slow your metabolism, and perpetuate yo-yo dieting, weight cycling, body dissatisfaction and distrust in your body. Moreover, they provide no guarantee of good health or happiness. Ditch the diet mentality and step off the diet cycle, to foster a healthier relationship with food and your body.
Principle 2. Accept your body
In this moment, your body is exactly the weight, size and shape it should be. No amount of resisting what is, blame or guilt will change your body in this moment. Accept the body you have right now, and choose to move, nourish and care for it in ways that make you feel most energetic and alive. Let go of controlling and punishing yourself for what is in this moment.
Principle 3. Consciously eat
Eat without distractions, drawing your full awareness to the sensory experience of sight, smell, taste, sound and feel, without judgement or mental commentary.
Eating with your full attention can relax your body, quieten your mind, reduce stress, improve digestion and increase satisfaction.
Principle 4. Observe and satisfy your hunger
A fear or distrust of your hunger signals is frequently the result of dieting and imposing external rules on yourself. Get acquainted with your internal hunger cues and learn to trust that your body knows when to eat and how much food it requires to sustain you. More often than not, eat when you’re physically hungry, and stop eating when you’re sufficiently satiated.
Principle 5. Ditch food labels and diet rules
Labelling food as either good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, perpetuates perceived cravings, temptation for forbidden foods, overeating and eating to rebel against the food rules. Your food rules and labels keep you trapped in diet mentality and diet cycling. Liberate yourself by eating intuitively to your body’s internal cues.
Principle 6. Feed your soul
Rather than judge yourself for eating for emotional reasons, explore the emotions that trigger you to eat, and identify ways to cope with your emotions without food wherever possible.
Principle 7. Intuitively nurture your body
Let go of searching for the elusive perfect diet or attempting to achieve nutritional balance every time you eat. Relax.
Nourish your body with a variety of foods that maximise nutrition and enjoyment, and suit your lifestyle and food preferences. Find your own way to nourish your body and mind.
Principle 8. Embrace the joy of eating
Eat foods that you enjoy and enable you to feel energetic and alive—physically, mentally and emotionally—without guilt and shame.
My intention with Joyful Eating
It is my intent and sincerest hope that through sharing my food and nutrition philosophy of Joyful Eating, I can help you break free of diet stress, guilt and shame.
Diets and diet rules cause us to distrust enjoying food. Yet I believe that joy can be our way back to a more intuitive and joyful relationship with food.
I hope my blogs, recipes and book, Joyful Eating, help you on your journey. Enjoy!