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With memes about quarantine fridge trips and more time at home to cook and snack, intuitive eating is having a moment. We use intuition every day to make decisions about work, love, and life, so why not use intuition when it comes to food too?
The term “intuitive eating” was coined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995 in their book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works. The book was aimed at helping chronic dieters form a peaceful relationship with food. “Intuitive eating is a dynamic interplay of instinct, emotion, and thoughts which gives us our inner wisdom to know how to eat,” said Elyse Resch.
The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating
From Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works
1. Reject the diet mentality
Toss diet books that only provide short-term fixes to weight loss and stop believing the false hopes they inaccurately promise.
2. Honor your hunger
Consistently take in the energy and carbohydrates that your body biologically needs. Your body naturally knows what nutrients it needs to not only survive, but to thrive. Try eating every three to four hours and to figure out how much food you need to feel satisfied. The lines between physical and emotional hunger will become more clear.
3. Make peace with food
Give yourself permission to consume all types of foods. If you deny yourself a particular food, eventually it may lead to cravings from deprivation and possible bingeing.
4. Challenge the food police
The food police officer is an inner voice that acts as a rule setter and tells you when you are “bad” or “good” based on what you consume. They monitor the rules that society enforces with diet culture. In order to eat intuitively, you have to chase them away.
5. Discover the satisfaction factor
You can find a deep pleasure when you choose to eat what you truly want. “Satisfaction is what leads to the ability to stop when you are comfortably full,” according to Resch.
6. Feel your fullness
Understand when your body is no longer hungry by listening to its signals. A good way to do this is to stop eating mid-meal and reflect on how hungry you feel. Be mindful of the taste and texture of the food. After observing the taste you can then decide if you feel a physical craving for more food. If so, continue eating until your body hits that point of satisfaction.
7. Cope with your emotions with kindness
Food restrictions can trigger loss of control and turn into what feels like emotional eating. Emotions all have triggers, but food won’t fix the root issues you are experiencing, it will only prolong them. Instead, try taking a walk, getting outside, or talking to someone.
8. Respect your body
Accept your body for the genes that you inherited. This will not only help you accept you for you, but also initiate a higher respect for your body.
9. Feel the difference
When you are exercising, try to change your perspective to focus just on how your body feels, instead of the exercise itself or the calories being burned. This will ultimately train your brain to crave exercising for the feel-good endorphins it releases, instead of focusing on the superficial physical results.
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Choose to eat food that makes you feel good. Perfection is not the goal. You can better understand which foods you can eat and also make you feel good by eating mindfully.
Mindfulness vs. Intuition
Intuitive eating is a broader version of mindful eating. Eating intuitively means engaging in physical activity to simply feel good, rejecting the diet mentality, viewing nutritional information without judgement, and ultimately being respectful of your body, despite societal norms. Mindful eating, while similar, is the act of paying attention to your eating experience without judgement.“Intuitive eating includes staying present and mindful when eating, but not necessarily using the specifics of mindful eating” says Resch. “Ours is more about staying present to hunger, fullness, and the satisfaction of food.”
Why Choose Intuitive Eating?
Diet culture worships thinness as healthy, promotes weight loss as a higher status, classifies foods as “good” or “evil,” and oppresses individuals who do not fit into the societal category of what is considered beautiful. A hyperfocus on a number on the scale can lead to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma, which can ultimately negatively impact your health..
The word “diet” has become associated with the need to be a specific weight. But a diet is meant to represent the foods one eats daily, not how one looks. Anti-diet dieticians, like the creators of Intuitive Eating, are focused on how you feel, not a number on a scale.
And gratitude plays a big role, according to Resch. “Gratitude and compassion are two major pieces of intuitive eating,” she explained. “Practicing gratitude on a regular basis can actually increase your serotonin levels in your brain, making you feel better and putting you in a cup-is-half-full, rather than half-empty mode.” With intuitive eating, you are not only honoring your body’s natural needs and ignoring unrealistic societal norms, but you’re also showing your body the gratitude and appreciation it deserves.
5 Ways to Get Started
1. If you’re hungry, eat and trust your gut! Try preparing healthy yummy snacks to satisfy hunger on the go and get creative with recipes.
2. Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, restriction is not the answer!
3. Talk to others, get outdoors, or on your mat to combat negative emotions. Endorphins really do help!
4. You can be your worst enemy or best cheerleader. Embrace and respect your body and mind for its beauty and strength.
5. Progress takes time. Focus on how your body feels internally and it will guide you in the right direction.