Luckily for us we were all born intuitive eaters! Our bodies being the beautiful, wonderfully made masterpieces that they are they know what we need & when we need it. Unfortunately, society has taught us to focus more on “external influences” verses “internal influences”.
Intuitive eating is not a new approach and has been around since the 90s. The benefits of IE are not just physical but emotional and mental. Intuitive Eating helps with self-image, self-esteem, encourages a positive relationship with food and an overall improved physical health. IE is unlike any mainstream diet or food approaches because it has nothing to do with:
Although Intuitive Eating “defuncts” everything we know about “diet culture” it can be the most invaluable perception & behavioral shift you make on this journey.
The 10 Principles that encompass the Intuitive Eating approach aim to give people freedom from restrictive dieting, negative behaviors, and obsession about weight.
1. Reject the diet mentality.
Take this in, there is no magic pill or “perfect” diet.
Restrictive and frequent dieting may have a negative effect on metabolism and increases the risk of gaining weight in the long run.
Defunct diet culture and diet mentality by changing your beliefs about the success promised by popular diets & removing yourself from those environments.
2. Honor your hunger.
Dieting often teaches us to ignore hunger cues and be limited to strict guidelines and/or calorie amounts.
FYI: hunger is a normal, biological sensation and the truth is that ignoring hunger and restricting your body of adequate calories and nutrients can cause your body to fight back leading to binge eating and weight gain.
Visual tools like the hunger-fullness scale can help you learn and re-gain experience in honoring your hunger.
3. Make peace with food.
Giving yourself grace and permission to eat what you want when you want without conditions.
Making peace with food & allowing grace means we are less likely to experience guilt or make up negative rules associated with eating (ex: “I have to exercise because I ate dessert”).
Making peace with food allows you to experience more enjoyment with food, friends & family, and less anxiety.
4. Challenge the food police.
Adding “good” and “bad” connotations to food creates guilt and a negative association with food.
Challenging the food police means recognizing that no single food can make you healthy or unhealthy by itself.
Using the 80/20 Rule may help here!
5. Feel your fullness.
Dieting often causes us to eat based on rules and routines, which doesn’t always align with our lives or when we are hungry or full.
Feel your fullness means slowing down with your eating and start listening for signals that tell you when you are feeling full and satisfied.
Practicing mindful eating by noticing textures, flavors, and eating without distractions can help with recognizing and honoring fullness.
Refer to the hunger-fullness scale.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor.
Have you ever felt full, but not satisfied? This is common, and often happens when we fill up on “good foods” we are “supposed” to eat yet avoid what we may truly want.
As a result, we tend to keep searching for that “one thing” that will make us feel satisfied, this behavior can lead to unintentional & unwanted, binging & overeating.
FYI: Allow yourself to enjoy what you really want in moderation, this way you feel better & do not continue eating to satisfy that specific craving.
7. Cope with your emotions without using food.
It is quite common to use food to cope with unpleasant feelings and emotions, even if you don’t notice it.
Emotional eating doesn’t address the underlying emotion & triggers and can lead to feeling worse in the long run.
Coping with your emotions without using food encourages you to gain awareness about why you are eating and to explore ways to comfort & cope without turning to food every time.
8. Respect your body.
Speaking negatively about body size and shape is a sad reality for so many people.
The media, social media and pop culture tells us that our bodies aren’t good enough the way they are naturally.
Respecting & honoring your body encourages accepting & loving your body for how it is in its current state & season.
FYI: It’s still okay to desire change or to want to be better, just as long as it is done in a healthy, self-loving way.
9. Exercise and feel the difference.
Exercise is important to health, but it’s easy for it to become an obsession.
Exercising with intuitive eating means shifting your focus from “how many calories burned” or “sweating more” to appreciating the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of exercising.
FYI: If you are only exercising to lose weight or eat more food it’s probably not going to work or become a new behavioral lifestyle change.
Make sure to honor your body and exercise because you are capable and you want to, not because you must! Exercise is not a chore!
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition.
Intuitive eating doesn’t forget about health, but it believes that being healthy doesn’t mean eating perfectly, restricting, or cutting out whole food groups.
An intuitive eater learns to make healthy food choices out of a genuine desire to nourish & honor their body and not out of guilt or other food rules.
The goal is to choose healthy foods because you want to feel good & live good, and not out of guilt or food rules.
Remember, the highlight of Intuitive Eating is that these principles aren’t rules but guidelines to help you create a new perception & set of behaviors. There is no right or wrong way to start IE, simply incorporate a few of the Intuitive Eating 10 Principles into your day and see how they make a difference in your quality of life and health.