What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to listen to your own body when making decisions about food, as opposed to taking direction from external sources. It helps you create a healthy relationship between your food, mind and body. With intuitive eating, you learn to use your own innate body wisdom and distinguish between your physical and emotional feelings. As simple as this approach may seem, it can take a lot of practice and letting go of years of contradicting information learned from dieting and today’s society.
Intuitive Eating is for you if you struggle with:
- Emotional eating
- Food cravings
- Overeating/Binge eating
- Compulsive eating
- Body image issues
- Weight loss
- Eating disorders (If you think you may have an eating disorder, please consult a medical professional)
The 10 basic principles of Intuitive Eating:
Reject the Diet Mentality Let go of the idea that there is a “quick fix” or diet out there that will solve all of your problems. Realize the lies that are spread by the diet industry and the millions of dollars that they are making. Stop feeling like a failure for not being able to stick to a diet or losing weight only to gain it back shortly after. Know that diets do not work and refuse to accept that they are a societal norm.
Honor Your Hunger Be aware of the physical feeling of hunger and practice feeding yourself at the onset of hunger. Waiting too long to eat will only lead to overeating or binge eating. In order to prevent this, you must be in touch with your body and hunger cues and make sure to honor them.
Make Peace With Food Food is not the enemy. It is actually delicious, nourishing, and energizing for the body. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want. Let go of deprivation and restriction and allow yourself to enjoy your food.
Challenge the Food Police The food police lives within us all and it’s time to put an end to it. Let go of claiming you are “bad” or “good” for what or how much you eat of something. Stop judging and feeling guilty for your food choices. The Food Police in your mind comes from the years of the unreasonable rules of dieting and it’s time to challenge those thoughts.
Respect Your Fullness As important as it is to honor your hunger, it is equally as important to respect your fullness. By eating slow and paying attention to your physical feelings, you can learn when it’s time to stop eating at your true fullness. It’s helpful to stop slightly before you’re full because it can take a while for your body to realize its actually satisfied. Ask yourself as you are eating, “Am I eating for energy and nourishment, or simply because it tastes good?”.
Discover True Satisfaction We often forget that eating can and should be pleasurable and satisfying. When eating from a place of non-judgement, in a safe and inviting environment, the experience of eating can be joyful.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food We need to find ways to comfort our emotions other than resorting to food. We can feel angry, anxious, stressed, sad, or happy every day, but it’s important to be away of these emotions and address the root of the issue. Food can not fix any emotional issues and can often make things even worse. You don’t need to be stressed, anxious while also being overly full and feeling guilty for overeating. Learn to acknowledge your feelings and find alternative ways to deal with them.
Respect Your Body We are all unique individuals and we should respect the body we were given at birth. Not everyone is meant to be a size 2 and that is actually a good thing. Diversity is amazing and by respecting our bodies we can learn to nourish it with healthier choices. By being too critical or unrealistic with our bodies, it can be demotivating and lead to unhealthy behaviors. Love the body you have right now and treat it with respect.
Exercise For Joy There’s no need to over exercise and stress out your body. Learn to exercise for the joy of it. Appreciate how your body feels when you move it. Go for a walk in nature or do some light yoga. Find what truly makes you happy and move your body and feel the difference.
Honor Your Health Make food choices by honoring the health of your body. What will make you feel good and provide you with the energy you need? Remember that you do not need to be perfect to be healthy. It’s the choices we make the most consistently that matter. Remember to focus on progress, not perfection.
The Benefits of Intuitive Eating
By learning the principles of Intuitive Eating, you will gain a sense of confidence in your food choices, you will appreciate the true pleasure of eating, and finally, make peace with food.
How to Get Started with Intuitive Eating
Ease into it - Take it slow and start implementing some of the above tips gradually. Once you master one step, you can move on to the next. If you try to do it all at once, you are likely to get overwhelmed and stop all together.
Be curious, let go of judgement - Do not judge the choices you make. Intuitive eating is all about learning to listen and trust your body. If your body is truly craving a brownie, there is no point in denying it what it wants. Be curious about the choices you make and you will be able to make more empowered choices the next time.
Slow down - Be present and sit down while you eat. Try to aim for at least 20 minute meals as often as possible. Chew your food thoroughly. Enjoy the process and pleasure of eating.
Engage your senses - While you are eating be aware of how delicious the food looks, feels, tastes, and smells. Engaging your senses truly helps you appreciate the process of eating and leaves you feeling more satisfied when you're finished.
Get inspired - Read about intuitive eating. Find new ways to practice self-care. Look up delicious recipes. Follow body positive women on instagram. Move your body in new ways and fall in love with your body.
Things to Remember:
This is Not Another “Diet” Don’t go treating this like another diet or another way for you to lose weight. It’s about changing your relationship and creating a healthy lifestyle for the long term. Practice intuitive eating for your health, happiness, and well-being.
Focus on Progress, not Perfection Don’t look at this as something you can fail or succeed at. You do not need to be perfect. You just need to focus on changing your thinking and beliefs and your ways of being with change along with it. Appreciate each time that you practice any of the intuitive eating principles and move on when you don’t.
If You’d Like to Learn More: