Q & A Series: #1) How to eat intuitively in a relationship?
This post is a part of blog post series in which I'm answering questions you guys have sent me from now until I head out on maternity leave later this summer.
Ready for the first one?
Let's dive in: How to eat intuitively in a relationship?
I love this question! It’s definitely a topic that often comes up with clients who start their intuitive eating journey with me. Whether you are new to intuitive eating or you’re at it for a while now, ‘sharing’ this journey with a partner can be challenging.
Here are some of the challenges that might come up…
You start observing your partner’s relationship with food and might find it hard not to comment on their habits
You enjoy different types of food - ordering, buying and cooking
You have different eating habits, times and needs
If you are in the process of breaking down old thinking patterns around food your partner (unknowingly) might ‘interfere’ with this process. For example - you might find it hard to honour your hunger if your partner takes a smaller portion than you or makes a comment about how much you eat
Here are few tips and tools you can try to help you navigate the challenges that might come up for you…
Focus on YOUR relationship with food. Don’t try to impose these ideas on your partner. If intuitive eating is right for them they will find their own path. If you are really passionate about intuitive eating you probably feel like absolutely everyone should do it! You feel so strongly about it that you find it really hard not to place comments or give advice. From personal experience, I can tell you it always backfires! Also remember that the way you experience food & your body would be different to someone else’s experience (different bodies - different needs) - so don’t assume that exactly what works for you, works for someone else. YOU DO YOU. And that’s more inspiring than shoving an agenda to someone’s face.
Honor your needs, with food and beyond. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to forget about who you are and your needs. For a relationship to be sustainable it’s important to find a balance between standing for your own needs and giving to your partner. When you honor your needs you create space for the other person to do the same. When it comes to food - think about what you want and need and allow yourself to express that. If your partner suggests takeaway and you really feel like homecooking, say that and suggest some ideas. If he / she suggests a restaurant that doesn’t sound appealing to you, say that and discuss some other options. If your partner wants to have a drink to celebrate something and you really don’t want to drink, say “I want to celebrate but I’d rather not drink tonight, I’ll join you with a zero alcohol drink!”
Share your experience. If you are new to intuitive eating with a long - term partner, share your journey with them. They might not completely understand it, but that’s ok! What’s important for them to understand is how important this journey is to you and how much you’d love having their support.
Establish boundaries. Don’t assume that of you talked with your partner about intuitive eating they’ll know how to support you. You need to let them know what to pay attention to, what triggers you, etc. For example, you could ask them not to make comments about what, when and how much you eat or don’t eat.
Stay flexible. Remember IE is about FLEXIBILITY. Compromise when you can, don’t feel pressured to compromise when you can’t. As much as it’s important to stand for your needs, relationships are also about compromise. There is no right or wrong answer here - it’s about getting to know yourself, understanding what and when are things really important to you and when it’s not a big deal. For example - if your partner wants to go out and you feel indifferent about it let your partner choose!
Mix & match cooking style. If you and your partner live together - buying and cooking food is usually the biggest challenge. But there are ways around it without cooking two separate meals. Mix & Match is a great solution (you can read more about this method here). The idea is to make food staples that you can mix & match into different variations, based on your preferences, cravings and hunger levels. Also, it might be a nice idea to save recipes that you both like so you have a go-to folder of recipes.
And finally - open communication is the key! If you have different eating styles talk through what’s important for you in your relationship and agree on some principle guidelines. If you are usually hungry by 6pm, but your partner is only back from work around 8pm and it’s important for you to have dinners together plan an afternoon snack to keep you going till dinner.
Hope this is helpful!
Do you have a question or topic you'd like me to offer insight and / or encouragement around?
Reply + let me know how I can support you!