As Intuitive Eating dietitians, we understand how challenging it can be to work on healing your relationship with food and body. Doing the work requires a lot of unlearning, relearning, practice and (most of all) self compassion.
Adding in the additional layer of talking with your partner about Intuitive Eating, then things can get a little more complicated.
With Intuitive Eating being such a personal process, it can be hard to sometimes express what you are going through. Or even what a relationship with food is! This is something that we discuss in depth in our Jumpstart to Intuitive Eating Course and with our clients on a daily basis.
However, having someone outside of your treatment team to be there for support can be extremely beneficial while navigating your Intuitive Eating journey.
We encourage our clients to talk with their partners and loved ones to help cultivate a more inclusive, supportive environment and community during this process. And also recognize that sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say. Let’s dive in to the top 3 ways you can talk with your partner about intuitive eating:
3 ways to talk with your partner about intuitive eating
Find the time and place
Try finding a comfortable place that is private and a time when both of you are well-rested and lower stress levels. Right after a long, stressful work day or in the middle of a disagreement is likely not the most productive time to have this conversation. Potentially on a weekend (given that neither one of you work on the weekends) or after a more restful day.
Doing this will allow you to gather your thoughts and your partner to respond rather than react. When stress levels or emotions are heightened it can lead to more of an aggressive response rather than a thoughtful conversation.
Prior to broaching the topic, try to journal some thoughts that you have about your Intuitive Eating process so far. Writing prior to this experience can help you gather what you might want to say.
start with your lived experience
While we all live in a dieting culture some of us experience it differently than others. This could be because of gender, body size, race or socioeconomic status.
Because of these differences, it can be helpful to detail what your experience with food, body and Intuitive Eating has been like throughout your life. This can be a challenging thing to do, so be patient with yourself. This might be where the journaling beforehand comes into play to help you understand some of your own experiences and timeline.
We have also provided a short prompt to help you gather your thoughts below:
Feeling Stuck? Try This:
So there have been some things on my mind that I wanted to talk with you about.
For [x amount of years or more vague such as “for a long time”], I have been struggling with my relationship with my food and body. [Insert more specific details here - this could be: I feel guilty after eating, I restrict certain foods, I feel uncomfortable in my body, I fear body changes etc].
It has impacted me significantly. [Insert impact here - could be, heightened stress, anxiety, depression symptoms, etc].
I have started to do work about this in [therapy, with my dietitian, etc] and I wanted you to know because I think it would be helpful for me to share what has been going on. I am not expecting you to have any answers or solutions for me. But it would mean a lot if I could talk to you about some of the work I have been doing.
explain what intuitive eating is and what it is NOT
As mentioned above, sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. If your partner might be someone that responds well to books, podcasts or research - try starting here.
Highlight the fact that Intuitive Eating is not anti-health. In fact, quite the opposite. Intuitive Eating helps you to focus on reconnecting with your body and making peace with foods to help improve your overall health.
You might explain how comments about dieting, body shape and size or exercise may be more challenging for you right now. And you would like to continue to have these conversations throughout your process.
remember: intuitive eating takes time
Your partner may not understand at first. And, that’s okay. Give them time and space to process this conversation on their own. Recognizing that diet culture does impact everyone, just in a different way. If they are not ready to hear or absorb this information that is not on you. We repeat: that is NOT on you. Recognize this as the need to set more firm boundaries to help aid in your healing process.
If you or someone you know is struggling to communicate their journey with their partner or loved one, do not hesitate to reach out to our office. In your guided nutrition work, we can tailor conversations about Intuitive Eating and setting boundaries with those around you.
interested in working with Nourishrx?
At NourishRX, we understand that finding the right support for your Intuitive Eating journey can be overwhelming. We are here to provide the right support, nutrition education, and guidance you need to reach your goals. If you're concerned about how to take a step forward with your eating disorder recovery, please don't hesitate to reach out. We offer virtual nutrition counseling for those in Massachusetts and beyond. If you're interested in working with us: