Intuitive Eating is a Privilege

Before we dig in, I’d like to acknowledge that conversations about privilege and intersectionality are hard but important. I’ve gotten it wrong in the past, and I’ll probably get it wrong again - but I will continue to learn, try to do better, and make space for open and honest discussion. If you have feedback, suggestions as to how I can do better, or would like to open a conversation - please feel free to email me here and let’s grow together.

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I speak a lot about intuitive eating in this space, and while I am passionate about this topic and the freedom it can bring to our lives, I think it’s time we addressed something important:

Intuitive eating is a privilege.

Being able to eat what you want, when you want is a privilege that has not been afforded to each person. I’ve learned enough about privilege lately to know that I have a lot more to learn, but I do know that naming your privilege is important. As a cis-gendered, heterosexual, able-bodied, “white enough to pass” Asian-American woman with thin privilege, I bring certain lived experiences to the table. You do, too. Everyone does. And this is why listening is so important, because you cannot live someone else’s lived experience. And you cannot confused your learned experience with someone else’s lived experience.

It is a privilege to be able to afford food that you like.

It is a privilege to be able to afford food.

It is a privilege to have a safe home and a place to cook.

It is a privilege to have a body that moves and can cook.

It is a privilege to physically be able to digest and absorb all foods.

It is a privilege to be able to eat at restaurants.

This is why it’s so important to understand that intuitive eating fits into the much larger scope of Health at Every Size. Intuitive eating is not for everyone and it is a privilege to be able to act on all 10 principles. If you are in a financial, emotional, and mental state where intuitive eating is a good choice for you - that’s amazing! And it also doesn’t mean you get to judge others if it’s not a good fit for them. If you’re not in a place where intuitive eating is possible or a good fit for you, there is still healing for you and you still deserve respect, compassion, and providers who listen.

Even though intuitive eating may not be, Health at Every Size is for everyone. For me, for you, for the people fighting discrimination, for the people who are protected from that discrimination by privilege. For the people you get along with. For the people you don’t. It means that everyone’s “healthy” looks different and pursuit of that includes both choices and privilege. It means we have to stop holding everyone to the standards of one ideal. Get to know people. Challenge standards.

If you’ve ever felt called to say something and not known the “how” or the “why”, you probably recognize that that’s what I’m doing with this post. I’m writing this because all of the puzzle pieces that make up the identity of a person are often the very things that get weaponized against them. I’m also writing it because wellness culture is stealing intuitive eating and glorifying it into a trend that says, “I eat ‘intuitively’ but only with these brands and foods” and, if you look closer, “My intuition is better than yours, so bend yours to fit” and uses all of that to fuel discrimination against those in bodies that don’t look or move like society wants. This is why understanding privilege and that health is defined individually is crucial to moving conversations forward.

I hope something in here resonated with you or challenged something you think or believe. If you have feedback, suggestions as to how I can do better, or would like to open a conversation - please feel free to email me here and let’s grow together.

Recommended read: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo