Intuitive Eating, Mindfulness & Happy Calories Don’t Count®

Ah Seattle – this place is a mecca for alternative health. I am surrounded by holistic, integrative health therapy practitioners, and a question I am commonly asked is “How is Happy Calories® different than Intuitive/Mindful Eating?”

First off, I need “intuitive” and “mindful” eating defined. Those ideas can mean a lot of different things to different people. Once that is taken care of, the differences basically come down to 1) the perspective from which the practitioner and client are coming, and 2) the methodology for achieving the desired outcome.

I’ve written extensively on how we live in a society where the “Diet and Exercise” model for weight loss and well-being is our cultural norm. This paradigm is so deeply rooted in our unconscious that many people don’t even recognize that they are operating from within that perspective – even the alternative health professionals. It is as if all of these “alternative” methodologies are trying to help their clients achieve health and wellness from within the diet and exercise context and/or despite it. Rarely do I see a health professional challenge the basic underlying premise of that model – our bodies are a result of what we eat and what we do for exercise and we can control our bodies by controlling what we eat and what we do for exercise.

Every now and again, I will come across someone who believes that health and wellness is not about “eating less and moving more.” So how do they help their clients achieve their wellness goals? By focusing on “nutrition.” So even someone who doesn’t believe “Diet and Exercise” is the answer still ultimately ends up operating from within that model.

I once had a conversation with an “intuitive eating coach” who uses portion control to help her clients “get there.” So again, these alternative, holistic approaches are still fundamentally based on the underlying premises of the cultural Diet and Exercise model.

Because Happy Calories Don’t Count® completely and utterly rejects the “Diet and Exercise” model and its underlying premise, it is an entirely different paradigm. Happy Calories Don’t Count® is a relationship-based model for health, weight loss and well-being as opposed to the transaction-based model of Diet and Exercise – and all of the “alternative” approaches based within it.

The second major difference between Happy Calories® and Intuitive/Mindful eating comes down to the methodology for creating the desired outcome. Oftentimes the main focus of Intuitive/Mindful eating is to become “present” (which is a good thing). However, the process for becoming present often focuses on meditation and being “mindful.”

Happy Calories® is more “bodyful.” Rather than trying to navigate wellness choices with our intuition or our minds, Happy Calories® focuses on developing and cultivating a strong relationship with our bodies. The Happy Calories® approach is able to effectively quiet the mind because we flat out reject all of the basic assumptions about wellness from the external world. Without needing to consider whether some food is “healthy” or some workout is “weight bearing,” we can more clearly hear the messages and impulses coming forth from our bodies – and trust them. This trust and respect then serves to deepen and strengthen the relationship we have with our bodies.

Based on how I would define “Intuitive Eating” – eating whatever you “feel like” eating, whenever you “feel like it” – this state is a natural result of following the Happy Calories Don’t Count® methodology.

While other alternative, holistic, healing modalities have indeed helped many people, there are segments of the population that do need a fundamentally different approach to create health and well-being. Furthermore, Happy Calories® is not in any sort of “competition,” with these other modalities. Rather, Happy Calories® offers a different underlying paradigm from which any healing modality can operate. By rejecting the base premise and assumptions of the Diet and Exercise model, and focusing on the cultivation of a strong relationship between the client and his/her body, any healing modality can become more effective.