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BOOK REVIEW: Just Eat It – How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food by Laura Thomas

| 7 August 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Just Eat it – How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food by Laura Thomas

January 2019
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Non-Fiction / Self-Help & Personal Development / Popular Psychology

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If you want to have your cake and eat it too then Laura Thomas’s book may be for you. In Just Eat it, this doctor and registered nutritionist dismantles diet culture and promotes intuitive eating. The latter is a set of tools and techniques designed to get people more in tune with their natural hunger and satiety cues. At times this seems quite different to traditional nutrition and diet books, but like all volumes fitting this genre–they should be followed under the guidance of a qualified expert.

The framework I use with my clients who have lost their way with food and eating is called intuitive eating. It’s a systematic approach to deconstructing food rules, wiping out food worry and anxiety, and gently relearning how to eat, from the ground up, using your own internal signals of hunger, fullness, pleasure, satisfaction, stamina, and a sense of well-being. In these pages I’ll share with you my approach to intuitive eating. However, it is not intended to be a rigid or prescriptive plan. These are guidelines for helping you figure out a way of relating to food that feels right for you. In fact, by the end of the book, I actually hope you’ll think a lot less about food. Of course, food plays a really important role in our lives, but it shouldn’t be all-consuming, and it shouldn’t be the least bit distressing.

This book uses quite an informal tone to tackle a difficult and complex subject. Thomas often uses profanities to sum up her exasperation with the ubiquity of diet culture. This is the world that has enabled many people to develop strange and disordered relationships with food, so one can understand her frustration, but her use of language and casual tone may not resonate with some readers.

Look, I don’t want this book to be all about me. It’s not about me; it’s about helping you feel less wired around food. But I just need you to know that I know what it’s like to be in that place where your life revolves around food and weight and being hungry, and eating thirty rice crackers to try and fill yourself up.

Thomas is well-meaning in her approach because she is an authority on the subject and she wants to educate people. She also wants to offer an accessible volume about the science behind diet and nutrition, along with explanations that are as easy as can be practicable. Thomas also strives to empower people to engage in self-care, and seize back power and control over their bodies. It’s a novel idea if used in the way it was intended, but those individuals with eating disorders may use some of the ideas here to justify their actions.

Disordered eating describes abnormal eating behaviours that may include skipping meals, binge eating, restricting certain food types, or fasting. These eating patterns are deviations from the cultural standard or three meals a day, which is often found in Western cultures. Disordered Eating indicates any deviation from these cultural norms, including food restriction, skipping meals, and over-eating. These deviations from cultural norms may be related to later development of an eating disorder but they do not necessarily indicate that an eating disorder is present.

The intuitive eating movement is still a relatively new one. Thomas cites the work of two American dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. In 1995 they developed the intuitive eating model. It’s described here in great detail and which can be summarised by ten key principles.

1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honour Your Hunger
3. Challenge the Food Police
4. Make Peace with Food
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
6. Respect Your Fullness
7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise – Feel the Difference
10. Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

One thing that readers will have to take care with is the issue of balance and moderation. While Thomas advocates tuning into the body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, this comes with an inherent caveat that one cannot consume too much junk food. It’s one thing to listen to the body, another thing to listen only to the pleasure-seeking centre of it all. Therefore, intuitive eating is about removing the feelings of shame that some people may experience when they do eat. Thomas achieves this by reinforcing the notion that we do not have to earn the right to eat:

Pay attention here, this is important, OK? You never, ever, have to ‘earn’ the right to eat. You never have to use exercise as penance or punishment for eating. Eating is a fundamental need; you have earned the right to eat by being a living, breathing, sentient being. That’s it. That’s the only prerequisite for eating. Are you alive? Congratulations, you have ‘earned’ the right to eat! You’ve also earned the right to love, respect, safety, compassion, and freedom to be who you are. Just sayin’.

The prose in this book is light-hearted and candid. Thomas writes in quite a forthright way about her own problems with food. She weaves her own personal anecdotes into text based on information taken from nutritional science, behavioural science and psychology. It can get a tad repetitive at times and could have been edited a bit more thoroughly. But at the end of the day, it does inform readers and is quite accessible in nature. There are also references and resources listed at the end for those readers who want to know more.

Just Eat It is a straight-talking book designed for those who want to re-boot their approaches to nutrition and diet. Thomas offers up some intriguing morsels of food for thought; but these should probably be taken with a grain of salt and/or specialist supervision. Just Eat It ultimately is a useful tome because it tackles diet culture head-on with some interesting advice and insights. Take that!

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Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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