Weekly Wellness: What the heck is Intuitive Eating?
COLUMBIA - The term intuitive eating was coined by Evelyn Tribole, RD, and Elyse Resch, RDN, in the 1990s; since then, they’ve written several books and participated in numerous research studies on their method.
In short, intuitive eating means breaking free from the on-and-off cycle of dieting and learning to eat mindfully and without guilt. There’s no calorie counting or restrictions on certain foods, but there are some guidelines that make up the core philosophy of this method.
Here’s an overview of intuitive eating’s 10 principles, and why you might want to give them a try.
1. Reject the diet mentality
The belief is that dieting isn’t sustainable. So the first principle of intuitive eating is to stop dieting—and to stop believing society’s messages that quick-fix plans can deliver lasting results. That includes throwing away diet books and magazine articles that promise fast weight loss, and rejecting any meal plans that dictate what or how much you can eat.
2. Honor your hunger
One reason dieting doesn’t work is because it can leave you feeling deprived and physically hungry—which can trigger binging and overeating. So instead of counting calories or watching portions, pay attention to your body’s hunger cues. That means eating a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates to keep your body “fed” and satiated. Once you learn to recognize these signals in your own body, it becomes much easier to trust your instincts and repair unhealthy relationships with food.
3. Make peace with food
When foods are labeled as "forbidden" it can make some people want them even more. You might even abstain (allowing that desire to build) so that when you finally give in, you binge. Then feel guilty. Then the cycle repeats. One of the principles of intuitive eating is to give yourself “unconditional permission to eat.”
4. Challenge the food police
Intuitive eating describes the “food police” as those voices in your head that tell you it’s good to eat fewer calories and it’s bad to eat dessert; in other words, it’s your psyche’s way of monitoring all of the dieting rules you’ve heard again and again over the years and making you feel guilty for not following them to the letter.
5. Respect your fullness
It’s important to eat when you’re hungry, but it’s also important to stop when those hunger cues are no longer present. It can help to pause in the middle of your meal or snack to assess your current state: How full do you feel? Are you still eating to feed your hunger, or are you eating out of distraction, boredom, or stress?
6. Discover the satisfaction factor
The satisfaction factor has to do with noticing and appreciating the taste and texture of food, but also the environment in which you’re eating. Getting satisfaction from your food is about truly understanding what feels good and what doesn’t.
7. Honor your feelings without using food
People often overeat because of anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, or stress. That’s why it’s important to get to the root of these problems, and to find ways to nurture yourself and resolve those issues without turning to food.
8. Respect your body
Intuitive eating is also about body acceptance: That means feeling good about your “genetic blueprint” and the body you were meant to have—not striving for unrealistic expectations about how much weight you can lose.
9. Exercise: Feel the difference
You don’t have to go to the gym every day while following an intuitive eating approach, but it is important to move your body on a regular basis. Exercise has many benefits that even the healthiest eating plan can’t convey on its own. It’s been shown to boost mood, strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system, and increase lean muscle mass, to name a few—all things that can help you feel comfortable and powerful in your own skin.
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Make food choices that honor your health, as well as your taste buds. Eating “intuitively” should still involve more fruits and veggies than ice cream. But at the same time, a diet doesn’t have to be perfect to be healthy, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up every time you make a less-than-perfect meal or snack choice.
If you're interested in attempting intuitive eating, I would recommend you follow the program closely. Here is the link to the website: http://www.intuitiveeating.org/