Let's Talk About: Intuitive Eating
What is it?
It is a NON-diet approach to eating. It means trusting your body and honoring your physical cues rather than counting calories, macros, serving sizes, etc.
The 10 Principles of intuitive eating:
So... what does that mean?
Let’s take it step by step.
- Reject the diet mentality. It is a vicious cycle. It goes something like this: restrict foods, feel deprived, binge, feel guilty for that, restrict again, feel deprived again, binge again, and so on. Am I right? There is no magic pill or 1-day fix it to losing weight that has taken years to add up. Stop depriving yourself and restricting yourself from certain foods.
- What does hunger feel like to you? Begin to listen to your body. Stay mindful of physical cues. These may include growling of the stomach, feeling of emptiness, dizziness, fatigue, lack of energy, headache, irritability, lack of concentration, and stomach pain. Remember that this differs from person to person. Listen to your body. (Tip: Start by writing down what you feel)
- Make peace with food. It is important to build a healthy relationship around food. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat, do not deprive and do not binge. No foods are ‘good’ and no foods are ‘bad’. Eat what you want.When you allow yourself to eat anything you want, you refrain from restricting which eliminates the urge to overeat. You can stop that vicious cycle we spoke about earlier. Makes sense?
- Challenge the food police. That is YOU! Do not get angry or feel guilt for eating a slice of cake. Enjoy it. Do not set unreasonable laws in your mind. Stop the food talk in your mind. Get rid of all those ideas such as “I shouldn’t eat this after 6 pm” or “sugar is bad for me.” The next time you see yourself thinking like this, stop yourself, and challenge yourself with a positive thought. Become self aware of your thoughts. Be positive, and be nice to yourself.
- Feel your fullness. So, we already talked about hunger cues. But, what are fullness cues? What does it feel like physically? Pause in the middle of a meal and ask yourself how you feel…track it, write it down, become aware of your body signals. You should feel content, not hungry and not stuffed.
- Discover Satisfaction. A meal should be enjoyable. Find the pleasure in meal times. Don’t be afraid to enjoy food. Ask yourself what you really want to eat, discover the pleasure of the palate, respect your taste buds, and make sure your setting is enjoyable. Remember: eat slowly, eat sensually, and savor every bite.
- Cope with your emotions without using food. Food provides instant gratification but does not solve an issue, just masks it for a few minutes because our feelings move towards something else. Right? We have all done this before. Grab a bag of chips while I am stressed and ten minutes later it is gone. I felt good for ten minutes but then I have the guilt of finishing the whole bag plus all the previous emotions before grabbing the chips. How many of you can connect to this? Find ways to comfort, nurture, and resolve issues without using food. Food can’t fix feelings of anxiousness, stress, loneliness, or boredom. Food is not a reward or a punishment. Write down your feelings, go for a walk, phone a friend, get rest, and express what it is you actually need to cope with the emotions.
- Respect your body. Stop being overly critical about yourself. Love your body. Appreciate what your body does for you day to day. Quit body-checking, quit negative talk, and respect body diversity.
- Honor your health. There is no such thing as eating perfectly. Enjoy your meals, satisfy your body, and change your mindset. Be kind to yourself.
- Stay active. Not for the purpose of burning calories but because it is a way to respect your body. Stop focusing on the intensity but rather on the movements, how it feels on your body, how your energy and mood are impacted, how your stress levels reduce after a brisk walk, and how your sleep improves with exercise. Make exercise fun, do it daily, but remember to also rest. Turn on some music and get dancing!
We are actually all born with the skill of intuitive eating. Think of a baby. A baby cries, eats, stops eating when they’re satisfied, and then the cycle repeats itself. As we grow older and the diet culture becomes our mentality, we lose our inner intuitive eater. We lose the ability to rely on our hunger and fullness cues. Our minds are surrounded with ideas such as “do not eat this!” or “finish your plate” or “eat all of this, none of that!” Instead we need to focus on honoring our natural body signals. Put away all of those external cues and listen to your internal cues. Honor your natural instinct.