Imagine a life that you ate when you were hungry, not just bored or stressed. What if you were able to lose weight while eating what you wanted and not what someone else is telling you to eat. It’s possible to do these things when you tune into your body, creating lasting results rather than a temporary fix. This is the general idea of intuitive eating. Anyone can do with the right knowledge and tools. Let’s dive into what intuitive eating is and the general principals to get you started.
Quick History of Intuitive Eating:
Intuitive eating is a concept that has been around dating back to the early 1970’s. However, in 1995, Evelyn Tribole an Elyse Resch secured the term Intuitive Eating with the release of their book by the same name.
The philosophy behind intuitive eating is that diets don’t work – which I agree with 1,000%. Diets create short-term results and are restrictive. These short-term results turn into perpetual cycles leading someone to fall in the chronic dieter category. Instead, it’s important to make lifestyle changes that create long-lasting results to support your future health.
Life isn’t fun if you’re being deprived of the foods you love, is it? I didn’t think so.
The Mind-Body Connection
The mind-body connection is when you can connect your mind to your body and actually FEEL in your bones, the power of these two things working together in unison. Mindfulness comes into play when you are intentional about the awareness of your body and how it feels. This is a skill that takes work and practice. The magic happens when feelings of deprivation are unshackled and the mind is free to make positive change without restrictions.
10 Intuitive Eating Principles
These principals are from the Intuitive Eating book mentioned above. Now, in full transparency, I have not read this book. I took the time to do some research to provide you with the general understanding of what intuitive eating is.
In fact, I didn’t even know intuitive eating was a thing when I started my journey to adapt my own lifestyle changes. I was a terrible dieter and knew change needed to happen if I was ever going to be happy in my own skin. Initially, I adapted my own motto of “moderation is key”. I still firmly believe this, but naturally, as my journey went on, I started using other tools I learned.
Eventually, I learned of intuitive eating and realized that the ideas I already lived by fit into these principals. Winning! However, I don’t solely just follow the ideas of intuitive eating. I follow a mix of mindful and intuitive eating, but there will be more posts on these topics at later date – so be sure to keep an eye out.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
If you have been a chronic dieter, this may take some work. It’s unrealistic to be on a diet your entire life if you are strictly just going for weight loss. There may be specific “diets” you need to follow for medical reasons, but if you are just trying to look good in that bikini, you must change this mentality and relieve yourself from diet culture.
Looking for that perfect diet is like Finding Nemo in the big ocean. His dad found him, but it wouldn’t be a very good movie if he hadn’t would it? Diets are restrictive and there is no such thing as the perfect diet for you, end of story. So stop looking.
2. Honor Your Hunger
If you are hungry, by golly, then eat! Trying to avoid eating to “save calories” will create a more urgent need to eat. This creates a tailspin into eating even more calories than you would have eaten if you would have honored your hunger in the first place.
3. Make Peace with Food
Acknowledge that there are foods that are better for your body than others. However, stop approaching them as foods that you should and shouldn’t eat. You should eat what you want, albeit in moderation. Allow yourself permission to eat what you are craving. Depriving yourself of the foods you want will lead to intense cravings over time that will suck you in like quicksand, leading to binging and overeating. I have this motto – deprivation is detrimental. So eat the foods that bring you joy, but be aware and intentional about it.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Diet culture has put into our heads falsities that revolve around food – like to stop eating the foods that bring us joy. You are not defined as good or bad for what you eat or don’t eat or how many calories you took in today. It’s okay you ate pizza, you were hungry.
Dispose of the limiting belief that you are bad for eating foods you love and free yourself of the guilt, because it’s okay.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Make your eating experience enjoyable. Sit down and be intentional with your meal. When you can bring awareness to the flavors and savor them, you’ll likely find you will eat less.
When you can tune into your meal rather than aimlessly and hurriedly eat, you will feel more in tune with your body and you will know when you are satisfied. This leads to the next principle.
6. Feel your Fullness
When your body tells you you’re hungry, you listen. Your body also tells you when it’s full. Listen to it.
When you can allow yourself to bring satisfaction to your meal, you will be able to stop when you feel yourself getting full.
Remember it takes time to feel full. Resist a second helping right away. It will be there for leftovers for you to enjoy at the next meal! That’s the beauty of eating – we have to do it several times a day.
7. Manage Emotions Without Food
Rather than reaching for those chips or ice cream, try finding new ways to walk through the tough emotions you are experiencing. Find an outlet that bring positive rewards rather than added guilt that spiral into more tough feelings.
Move your body. Take a walk, do yoga or do a strenuous workout.
Explore meditation or journaling to help release the tough emotion and regain composure.
Bring awareness to the times you think you are hungry but it’s actually your feelings talking; not your stomach. When the hunger surfaces, are you truly hungry? Or do you just feel hungry because food and feelings are an association in your brain? Re-associate your feelings to an outlet that brings you closer to your goals.
8. Movement – Feel the Difference
It’s important to move your body. It doesn’t need to be a 60 minute sweat sesh. Find ways to move that you ENJOY. This goes back to the mind-body connection I talked about earlier. Take the time to actually FEEL the movement and the affect it has on you. Take gratitude for the few moments you have to yourself if you are alone and that your body can move.
Don’t dwell on needing to lose weight. Allow yourself a mindset shift to focus on the healthy lifestyle you dream of having. You are strong, full of life and capable of anything.
9. Respect Your Body
Attention!! Attention!! Is this thing on? I’m going to say this louder for the people in the back.
Respect your body! I mean you only have one! Take care of yourself. Think about your life in the future. Do you want to be able to keep up with your grandkids someday? Do what you can now to help aid a better, easier, more mobile life as you age.
10. Honor your Health – Gentle Nutrition
Honor your health and your goals when making food selections. Allow yourself to eat foods that not only taste good, but make you feel good inside and out (for more than 5 seconds). Foods the truly nourish your body. I’m going to go back to that mind-body connection again. Really take the time to notice how foods make your body and mind feel. When you get into a rhythm of knowing what both your mind and body like, you become unstoppable!
However, one meal at McDonald’s or piece of chocolate cake isn’t going to make or break your progress. In fact, I encourage you to eat these from time to time to eliminate the feeling of deprivation. Remember? Deprivation is detrimental. It’s important to remember that being healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat perfectly for every meal, every day. It’s the consistent patterns created over time that shape your overall health that lead to habits you carry with you long-term.
Don’t aim for perfection – because it doesn’t exist. Effort and progress are the name of the game here.
You owe it to yourself to say “bye-bye” to diet culture and starting making intuitive changes that allow you to lead the healthy lifestyle of your dreams. It’s important to educate yourself and try new foods. Remember, your taste buds change every few years. Learn what your body likes and doesn’t. Tune into your inner-self. No one knows you better than you do. You can do this and enjoy that peanut butter cheesecake. Let me know if this helped or gave you any new insight!