Intuitive Eating is something we are born to do. If you’ve ever seen a young child eat, that is the epitome of intuitive eating – eating when they are hungry and stopping when they are satisfied. While this may be an over simplified description of intuitive eating, it is something we can retrain our bodies to do again.
The intuitive eating concept started to gain attention in the United States after a book release by the same name from dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole in 1995 but didn’t start to really pick up speed until the early 2000s. Although the book is now more than 20 years old, the idea of intuitive eating is still a new concept to many people. Ingrid uses the concepts of intuitive eating in combination with her informed eater approach. She believes that most individuals will need to “reset” their taste buds and explore a more diverse offering of food before being able to most effectively intuit what may be right for their body. Just as our sense of intuitive eating as a child was diminished with societal pressure and norms, so too are food choices we make. As we reset our food patterns and learn about more nutritious foods, our bodies can begin to come out of hibernation and feel good again!
Intuitive eating is not just “what do I feel like today” – because if we’re not informed or haven’t been exposed to a variety of healthy foods, that “intuition” is not going to be very helpful. Instead, intuitive eating consists of 10 principles:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet book, magazine articles, and Instagram celebrities that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in drastic overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
4. Challenge the Food Police .Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.
8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.
10 Honor Your Health–Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.
These 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating are from The Original Eating Pros, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. Descriptions are slightly modified to fit a Full Life Nutrition and Wellness clientele.