The I Eat What I Need Process is 7 guiding principles to change your relationship with food and body. Reawaken your natural eater, the part of you who knows intuitively what, how much, and how often you need to eat, without restriction or control, will power or obsessive regimes.

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To notice is to become aware of this moment now. This awareness exists without judgement. It is shining a light on our behaviour, and our mind talk, without harsh criticism or self-attack. It acknowledges the truth of what is, without pushing it away or making it different. We listen to our minds and bodies, we pause, and we take stock. What is happening, right now?

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Creating space is the art of interrupting our conscious habitual patterns. For example, maybe we eat foods that make us feel unwell, or we say hurtful things about our own bodies. We choose an unsupportive habit to work on, and then we notice it daily. It takes patience, perseverance, and a lot of repetition to undo our maladaptive habits and socio-cultural conditioning. Every time you notice, you have a golden opportunity to re-wire your brain and create a new, more spacious reality for yourself. Armed with your commitment to experience a greater sense of freedom, you decide to slow down, pause and breathe. You embrace your imperfect nature; you engage in this practice to the best of your ability. You are enough.

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The Process is a completely different approach to eating, weight and body image issues. We reject the “calories in, calories out”, “eat less, move more” received wisdom as it stands now. Being curious is a lifelong process of inquiry, which serves to understand things as they are rather than any expectation of how they should be. The curious mind dives into the process, interested to learn about why we behave in such seemingly conflicted ways, when rational thinking fails us. Being curious rather than condemning it or simply wishing it away, allows us to understand it, feel it and face it fully. Being curious works, because it is a less stressful way of delving into our minds and bodies to understand why we behave as we do. The curious mind can then, through the miracle of neuroplasticity, choose to change its pathways and evolve new thoughts and behaviours that suit us better and bring us peace.

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If we impose change, as we have done previously by dieting and other restrictive means, we will cause further stress on our bodies as we push or coerce ourselves into changing our behaviour. Although perhaps effective in the short term, as any dieter knows, motivation through “have to, should or must” is extremely counter-productive in the long run, and only serves to further fuel our sense of inadequacy. We start with small steps, we lower our expectations, and we take it gently, slowly and gradually. We celebrate every tiny triumph, every breathe we take when met with our habitual and addictive urges. We forgive ourselves when we find ourselves back in old ways. Being kind means being a friend to ourselves in all weathers, and staying alongside ourselves in times of struggle. Adopting kindness towards ourselves underpins the IEWIN approach.

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As humans, we cannot deny our physical nature. Our bodies are our home on this earth. This stage begins the brave journey of reconnecting with the felt-sense of your body. You become interested in how you feel, inside, and start to register the huge variety of sensations your body is continually communicating to you. It could be tension, bloating, nausea, or the jitters. The key to learning to eat what you need is to feel what you feel. You grow your capacity to feel those sensations, as they arise, gradually letting go of numbing out and suppressive behaviours. You may become more aware of physical and emotional pain within your body as a result. Being aware of these sensations will help to create safe boundaries around your food choices, without any input from the mind, with its constant judgements and justifications. As you spend more time feeling your body, you will also feel more joy, freedom and spaciousness than ever before. Your natural eater is awakening and she demands that you feel her, deep within your belly space.

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This is not a linear process of continuous growth. This is not a fresh start either, where we become a completely different person from one day to the next. Our brains don’t work like this. We learn to live within the mess, the confusion, and feel our way through. We are asking for a huge U-turn in behaviour. Food is a very convenient way to “check out” both physically and mentally but especially emotionally. This process is all about “checking in”; noticing, creating space, becoming curious, being kind and being in our bodies. The well-worn habitual and addictive brain pathways ay kick and scream as they change direction. This is where the community and this process comes in. We are here to support each other as new and different challenges occur and exciting changes take place.

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We are not interested in perfectionism. This may actually have played a part in our disordered eating. We are not interested in success or failure, pounds lost or pounds gained. We want to live in a body and a mind that feels spacious and comfortable, more of the time. We recognise that we are in constant flux, and there is no final, fixed state to achieve. Balance is negotiated by daily reorientations towards that which supports us; awareness (noticing), pausing before we roll into habits (creating space), being interested in how we feel, moment-to-moment (being curious, being in our bodies), self-acceptance (being kind) and resilience (getting stuck and starting again). As we grow, our choices are driven by desire to experience greater freedom and ease, rather than numbing out or simply coping with life. We spend less time engaging in extreme behaviours (binge/starve) or obsessive thinking (all/nothing) and more time walking the middle path. We are learning to eat what we need with pleasure and embrace our bodies as they are, now.

Copyright IEWIN 2018