Maria Scrimenti is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Health & Wellness Coach and Eating Disorder Recovery Coach, passionate about guiding women ditch dieting, find balance with food, love their body and live their best life. In this feature, Maria shares insights in the principles of Intuitive Eating with great advice on self-care to achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle.
I had a career in the fitness industry for almost 10 years before opening a private nutrition counseling practice. After completing my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, I had a desire to expand my expertise beyond just physical fitness and became a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. This allowed me to have conversations with clients outside of the gym, that supported them in engaging in health- promoting behaviors that enriched their quality of life. Fitness is only one aspect of physical health, and I always wanted to be able to tackle the mental side, too. So I gathered additional certifications and pursued a graduate degree in counseling. Broadening my scope allowed me to acknowledge that wellness is about so much more than just how we exercise and how we eat and empowered me to help my clients in more meaningful, more long-lasting ways.
Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework created in 1995 by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND. It is an evidence- based model proven to produce positive health outcomes with a validated assessment scale and over 100 studies to date proving its efficacy. It is a way to eat mindfully, with attunement to physical sensations that arise from within your body to get both your biological and psychological needs met. It is not a plan or program that tells you what, when, and how much to eat. Rather, it is a framework that allows you to trust yourself to make food choices that make sense for you & your life, and that support your physical, mental, and emotional well- being. It is grounded in sound science and enforces dignity and respect for individuals of all body sizes. It defies diet culture, as diets are harmful to our overall health and don’t result in sustainable weight loss for the vast majority of people. Intuitive Eating replaces confusing diet rules with evidence- based nutrition and helps you become markedly healthier and happier.
The biggest nutritional mistake I observe people making is cutting out foods or food groups with no known allergy or legitimate medical reason. Variety is one of the most important nutritional indicators, so the more foods we cut out, the more prone we are to malnutrition. Food restriction for weight loss is a disordered eating behavior and is not conducive to positive health outcomes or a healthy relationship with food. The more foods we can allow in, the better.
Stop dieting and restricting food. Stop weighing, tracking, and measuring. This is essentially OCD manifesting itself in food. It is obsessive and disordered. It is harming your health and not working for long-term weight loss anyway!
Go to therapy if you aren’t already. Mental health is a huge piece of overall wellness.
Did I say stop dieting? ;)
I’ve come to love yoga. It is a big part of my life, but I didn’t always love it. If you don’t think you like yoga, try a different style of yoga (there are so many different kinds), or a different instructor, and keep trying. Let it grow on you and it will change your life. It will help you respect and tend to your body and connect with your breath. Depending on what kind of yoga you do, it can vary in intensity from gentle to challenging, and your body will start to crave it.
I journal every day as a way to process my thoughts. It feels like good mental hygiene to have regular check- ins with myself and see if there’s anything that needs to surface. I use this time for gratitude and reflection as well.
I highly recommend developing good boundary-setting skills as a self-care practice. Saying no to things you don’t want or that won’t be good for you is a great way to stay healthy and balanced. You deserve to advocate for yourself and speak up for your wants and needs. If others don’t respond well to your boundaries, that doesn’t mean you are wrong for having them. It is ok to be polarizing. Don’t abandon yourself for the sake of pleasing or accommodating others.