Just Eat It by Laura Thomas is a nonfiction book about intuitive eating that the publisher kindly sent to me via Netgalley. All views are my own.
This anti-diet guide from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD can help you sort out your attitude to food and ditch punishing exercise routines. As a qualified practitioner of Intuitive Eating – a method that helps followers tune in to innate hunger and fullness cues – Thomas gives you the freedom to enjoy food on your own terms.
There are no rules: only simple, practical tools and exercises including mindfulness techniques to help you recognise physiological and emotional hunger, sample conversations with friends and colleagues, and magazine and blog critiques that call out diet culture.
So, have you ever been on a diet? Spent time worrying that you looked fat when you could have been doing something useful? Compared the size of your waistline to someone else’s? Felt guilt, actual guilt, about the serious crime of . . . eating a doughnut? You’re not alone. Just Eat It gives you everything you need to develop a more trusting, healthy relationship with food and your body.
I’ve talked before about how I hate the focus on diets and weight loss in January, so when I saw this book pop up on Netgalley, I thought I would give it a shot. Because I’m pretty sensitive about this sort of thing, I looked Laura Thomas up on twitter before reading – I didn’t see anything that rang alarm bells, so I happily went ahead.
I…really liked this book. Intuitive eating takes a lot of things – mindful eating and movement, discarding of diet bullshittery and ‘nutribollocks’ that comes from Instagram ‘wellness’ influencers, and a lot of self-compassion. Its basic aim, in the end, is also to think less about food, rather than more. That is something that I can definitely get down with!
Mindful eating is not a way to control, fix or avoid. Mindful eating is not another diet. Mindful eating is not forcing us to do something. It’s not about forcing, fixing, controlling…It’s being with it all, including the shit stuff. Like for example if we have an eating experience that’s unpleasant, whether that’s because we eat beyond the point of comfortable fullness or whether that’s because the only food available to us ended up that we didn’t like it, and it wasn’t satisfying for whatever reason, whether that’s taste preference or satiety factors or whatever. Mindful eating also isn’t a guarantee, of anything. It’s not a guarantee that all the foods you’re going to eat you’re going to love, or that you’re always going to get it “right”, it’s certainly not about being perfect and it’s certainly not about certainty, it’s about embracing uncertainty actually, and doing the best you can, with a shit load of self-compassion.
The way that Laura writes is so great, because she is very warm, and has clearly been in many of the situations that she describes. At the beginning of the book she very clearly acknowledges her privilege, which I appreciated. And she isn’t at all condescending. She explains the science behind the fact that diets don’t work, and why depriving yourself of food makes you more liable to have late-night raids of the fridge. Everything is meticulously researched, even though intuitive eating is in its infancy as a movement. And there is a great glossary at the back with loads more of recommendations of who to follow on social media and what to read next.
I also thought that the structure really made the book. Each chapter was meticulously mapped out, so that it would give you little tidbits of information for you to ponder without getting too overwhelmed. For example, she only talks about the ins and outs of nutrition at the very end of the book, because when people are immediately bombarded with this information, they tend to freak out and obsess over nutrients, rather than, y’know, becoming more in-tune with their bodies and then thinking about nutrition.
Throughout, there are a couple of different journal and meditation exercises that you can do. Unfortunately the formatting on the Netgalley ARC was a bit messed up, so I couldn’t see all the charts and things. However, even just thinking about these exercises was really great for me. She encouraged me to follow fat and body positive people on Instagram, and to try and eat at least one meal a day without distraction, simply noticing and (hopefully!) enjoying every mouthful I take.
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ seems fairly innocuous on first inspection. But if we take a closer look, we realise its healthist bullshit that has been manipulated and bastardised by the clean-eating brigade to justify restrictive and shame-based eating rules.
It did take me a lot longer to read than I had expected. This wasn’t because the book was particularly dense. Don’t get me wrong, there are science-heavy parts, but it’s usually well explained. I think it was partly because I had to take it slowly. This was because I really needed the information from each chapter to sink in before going onto the next, and because I do sometimes find talk about fatphobia and diets (even in an anti-diet book!) a bit triggering.
Overall, I found this book a really positive read. I’m still thinking about it and the ways that I can continue to incorporate mindfulness into my daily routine. It was respectful, and taught me a lot about intuitive eating.
Trigger warnings: descriptions of food, talk of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and bingeing, diet culture, fatphobia (challenged), sexism (challenged)