You may have heard the term ‘intuitive eating’ before and wondered what it means. Intuitive eating is a holistic mind and body approach to eating and health. Rather than strict rules around what you can or can’t eat.
How often do you find yourself reading stories about the successes other people have had with a new diet, only to try the same diet and get completely different results?
Maybe you’ve read about a diet that promises rapid weight loss and leaves you feeling energized all day. From a few celery sticks and a smoothie? Unlikely.
The fact is, most fad diets for rapid weight loss are unsustainable and will leave you feeling unfulfilled. Some of them do result in rapid weight loss, but after a few months, the weight creeps back again.
What so many of these diets have in common is that they involve a change of behavior, rather than a change of mindset, meaning we see the diet as temporary and look forward to returning to our normal food habits.
They also often involve dramatic changes to what we’re eating. Any change can be challenging and habits are hard to break, so it’s no wonder we find ourselves exhausted from trying to completely overhaul what we eat. It also takes time to learn new recipes, adjust to new snacks, new rules around when and what we can eat, new flavors not to mention the cravings!
When it comes to food, it’s important that we listen to our bodies. It doesn’t make sense to keep eating foods that make us feel awful. It doesn’t make sense to eat too much or too little when our bodies clearly have other needs.
Instead, we should practice intuitive eating.
What is intuitive eating?
You may have heard the term ‘intuitive eating’ before and wondered what it means. Intuitive eating is a holistic mind and body approach to eating and health. Rather than strict rules around what you can or can’t eat, the intuitive eating approach focuses on listening to your body and tuning in to your own health and needs, in order to make the right choices for yourself.
Intuitive eating was developed by dietician Evelyn Trioble and nutrition therapist Elyse Resch in 1995. It is guided by 10 main principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Feel your Fullness
- Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise-Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Let’s take a closer look at what that involves.
Reject the Diet Mentality
This means to stop hanging onto the idea that someday the perfect diet will come along and fix all your problems.
Honor Your Hunger
Recognizing that hunger is a natural signal from your body that you need food, and then addressing that need. If you let yourself get too hungry you are more likely to overeat. So paying attention to when your body is hungry is an important step.
Make Peace with Food
Food is not your enemy. Food is essential for your body. Part of intuitive eating is rejecting the idea of ‘good foods’, ‘bad foods’, and restriction or elimination.
Challenge the Food Police
This is about fighting that voice in your head that tells you what you can or can’t eat and challenging thoughts that judge you based on what you’re eating. You aren’t ‘good’ because you chose to eat a salad instead of pasta, and you aren’t ‘bad’ because you chose to eat some cake instead of an apple.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
One of the great joys of life is taking the moment to savor our food. Instead of rushing through a snack or meal, pause and enjoy what you’re eating. Reflect on the flavors and textures. When we are slower and more mindful in our eating, we get to relax in the moment and are less likely to overeat.
Feel your fullness
In addition to tuning in to our bodies and noticing when we’re hungry, we also have to notice when we are full-eating what we need: no more, no less.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
So often certain feelings can trigger us into eating as a response. This is called emotional eating, and it shows up a lot when people are feeling stress, anxiety, grief, sadness, or even boredom. But food is not going to fix the source of that emotion or stop the emotion itself. Honor your feelings by finding other coping strategies, and honor your body by noticing whether you are really hungry, or whether you are just eating in response to something else.
Respect your body
If everyone all ate the exact same thing and did the exact same exercise, we’d all still look completely different from one another. Accept your genes and your body for what they are, and be kind to yourself. Self-criticism (especially when it’s over things you can’t change) is damaging and does not serve you.
Exercise Feel the Difference
Find movement or exercise that feels good for you, and focus on the endorphins and enjoyment that you gain from it. Try to see exercise as something positive for your body that makes you feel energized and strong, rather than obsessing over calorie burning and looking a certain way.
Honor Your Health Gentle Nutrition
Choose foods that taste good and that nourish your body in a healthy way. Also remember it’s about building long-lasting, positive eating habits. One snack or meal or day or week of eating less healthy food will not ruin your life or health.
Listen to your body
Is intuitive eating healthy?
What sets intuitive eating apart is that it’s not a diet, it’s an approach to eating. The principles themselves do not set out what you can or can’t eat, so in that sense, how healthy it is can depend on you.
However, following the principles will enable you to build a much healthier relationship with food. As you learn to listen to your body and make more mindful decisions around what you eat, you should naturally find it easier to make healthy food choices that are both tasty and nutritious.
Of course, this is also not to say intuitive eating can’t work in tandem with certain diets. Plenty of people adhere to diets (such as going gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, following the keto diet, or others) for health reasons, while also applying the intuitive eating principles.
Can you lose weight through intuitive eating?
You can definitely lose weight through intuitive eating! We’ve all heard at some point that the secret to health and weight loss is just a healthy diet and exercise. But food is more than just a source of energy, and most of us have a complicated relationship with food (and exercise), which makes those two points harder to achieve.
Some of the greatest contributors to people gaining weight are things like emotional eating, boredom eating, binge eating (often in response to restrictions), low self-esteem, and yo-yo dieting.
This is what makes intuitive eating so great. Instead of setting out diet rules, intuitive eating actually addresses these behaviors that normally contribute to weight gain.
Its holistic approach gives you a better grasp of when you’re hungry, teaches you to slow your eating, and to stop yourself from overeating. It also equips you with a much healthier relationship with food and with yourself.
Finally, it encourages exercise and healthy eating in a way that isn’t intimidating and regimented. If you’ve always found it hard to keep up with intense workout plans and calorie-counting diets that have no resemblance to your normal food, intuitive eating could be for you.
As part of the intuitive eating principles, a healthy diet and exercise can become a consistent, enjoyable, and rewarding part of your life. Meaning you can achieve a healthy lifestyle and your weight loss goals in a way that is satisfying and sustainable.
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How can I get started with intuitive eating?
There are some great resources out there for learning more about intuitive eating, but sometimes it can help to have a bit of guidance along the way.
If you’re unsure or want to know more, you can also always reach out and schedule a session with me. As a certified Life and Weight Coach, I draw on my personal experience, my experience from coaching others, as well as the latest research in neuroscience, to help you set realistic goals and achieve them.
If intuitive eating sounds good to you but you’re a bit unsure about point 8 (Respect your body), point 9 (Exercise) and point 10 (Gentle Nutrition), I can help you!
In addition to being a certified life coach and keto coach, I have a wealth of experience in helping people sustainably and permanently lose weight. You can combine the principles of intuitive eating with my Be The Boss Weight Loss Program and transform your relationship with food, exercise and yourself.
Book a free 30 minute consultation today and get ready to say goodbye to destructive, disappointing dieting, and say hello to a whole new life for yourself.
Be the Boss Let’s work together to achieve your Goals!