Monday's With Maria
What is Integrated Eating™? Part One
by Maria Sorbara Mora, MS, RD, CEDRD, PRYT, RYT
Integrated Eating™ is a concept developed from over 15 years of patients and colleagues telling me how I practice is radically different than other nutritionists in the Eating Disorder world.
This approach stems from the aspect of integrating Body, Mind and Soul into recovery and engages all aspects simultaneously to form an enlightened or mastered form of eating.
To recover and heal from disordered eating an individual must find a way to a healthy relationship to food and their bodies. This step-by-step process known as Integrated Eating™ incorporates Structured, Mindful, Intuitive and Mastered Eating.
The simplest way to describe Integrated Eating™ is to understand it from an example outside of eating. Let’s take Tennis Pro Serena Williams.
If you’ve ever seen Serena play tennis you’ll probably use terms like: professional, pro, master, etc. But how did she get to this level of mastery? Serena had to first learn the form of the game. She had to take lessons in which her coach told her how to stand, how to hold the racquet and how to hit the ball over the net. After learning the form, Serena most likely had to practice…a lot.
As she practiced she probably started taking some mental notes of what she observed: if I hit the ball too hard it goes out of bounds, if I hit it too light it won’t go over the net. Through practicing, her body started to feel what the right amount of ‘hit’ she needed for the ball to go over the court every single time. The more she practiced, the more those observations became part of her body. There was an intuitive way of being on the court. When a ball was coming over the net, her body took her to exactly where it was going to be. She would sometimes know what was about to happen before it happened. This evolution has made her a phenomenal player. When you now see her on the court, she looks like she’s dancing. She is no longer thinking of her form. She is playing with her body, mind and soul. She is intuitive but her form is still impeccable. This is mastery and this is integration.
Now let’s consider this application with food. When someone begins on a path of recovery from an eating disorder the first and most important way of eating is in a structured way. We call it a ‘meal plan’ but basically it’s the form of how to eat. Nutritionists help their clients learn how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat, creating a structure of eating that will allow for balance and health. As they practice this structured way of eating they have the opportunity to create observations about their eating. For instance, as they’re eating they may realize, “I really like avocados” or “When I eat too fast I feel very full,” or “If I wait too long to eat my lunch I want to overeat” or “If I only eat half of my sandwich I’ll be hungry too quickly.” This mindfulness allows for individuals to move into a deeper understanding of their personal relationship to their meal plan.
Through structured and mindful eating an individual learns to consider their body and begins to practice intuitive eating skills. They may for instance crave tuna and order that for lunch or eat on their hunger cues vs. relying on the time to let them know it’s time for dinner. Through this process, an individual evolves and can find mastery or integration. In this kind of eating the body has practiced structured eating for so long that there is no longer a need to rely on the meal plan.
At this level, individuals don’t have to think about when or what or how much to eat like they did in the beginning of their recovery. They are mindful and intuitive, using their body wisdom for cues and trusting in the process. This is also not a thinking process. There is a flow, and flexibility to their eating that feels organic and mastered. This is Integrated Eating™.
1) Consider what parts of your life are already in mastery?
2) What is it like to have moved into mastery in these areas of life?
3) What can you take from this aspect of your life already in mastery to support you in your quest for Integrated Eating™?