Intuitive Eating makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals. The term intuitive Eating was coined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 1990s. It’s the opposite of a traditional diet. Intuitive Eating doesn’t impose guidelines about what to avoid and what or when to eat. Instead, it teaches that you are the best person to make nutritional choices for yourself.
The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating
Reject the Diet Mentality
Diets may accomplish the goal at first but they tend to fail when their rules are impossible to adhere to permanently, leaving behind feelings of failure. Expecting any “diet” to be the answer to a life-long struggle is the first thing to let go of when embracing Intuitive Eating.
Honor Your Hunger
Hunger signals a biological need for energy. Ignoring it regularly can trigger overeating. Getting to the point of intense hunger will make it hard, if not impossible to eat with the moderation weight loss requires. Honoring that hunger signal and not seeing it as an enemy will help lay the foundation of trust between you and your food.
Make Peace with Food
Allow all foods into your diet and give yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you want. Stop categorizing foods as good or bad. If you tell yourself you can’t have or shouldn’t have a certain food, you will eventually feel deprived. This deprivation builds into uncontrollable cravings and overeating.
Challenge the Food Police
The food police are the thoughts in your head that declare you as “good” for eating a salad for lunch and “bad” because you ate dessert/carbs/sugar/etc. These are the unreasonable rules that were created by dieting that cause you to feel guilty. These rules are housed deep in your brain and pop up on a daily basis to govern your food decisions. It’s impossible to view eating as a normal, pleasurable activity when the food police have ahold. Challenging the food police is an important step towards becoming an intuitive eater.
Respect Your Fullness
This is where mindfulness comes in (similar to honoring your hunger). Paying attention to the signals that you are no longer hungry might require slowing down, or tuning out of the conversation to tune in to the body, or a full-on pause in the meal to notice how the food tastes, chewing it fully and determining if you have eaten enough to feel full.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
There is an inherent pleasure and a desire to feel emotionally satisfied derived from eating. Eating delicious and fulfilling foods should not be something to avoid; on the contrary, feeling consistently satisfied from eating something you really want to eat can create a more conducive environment to eating more moderately. Find ways that are unrelated to food to deal with your feelings, such as taking a walk, meditating, journaling, or calling a friend. Become aware of the times when a feeling that you might call hunger is really based on emotion.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
Too often food becomes the answer to stress, anxiety, boredom. We can’t expect food to never be used as a coping mechanism, but someone with a complicated relationship with food that has come to use food as a crutch should look elsewhere to process their emotions. New skillsets for coping can be learned and utilized during times when food was there to temporarily provide that relief.
Respect Your Body
Rather than criticizing your body for how it looks and what you perceive is wrong with it, recognize it as capable and beautiful just as it is. Accepting and loving your own body will provide a level of freedom from the diet mentality that would be impossible to relinquish otherwise.
Exercise—Feel the Difference
Start moving and notice how much better it feels than not moving. Thinking of exercise as nothing but a tool to weight loss rather than a natural state a human being should engage in every day reduces the motivation to exercise at all.
Honor Your Health
Remember, you don’t have to go all or nothing on your nutrition. Make an effort to eat healthy foods as a lifestyle choice, but eating perfectly is not a requirement for good health. One indulgence or even a bad weekend of eating is not going to unravel your entire year’s efforts at weight loss and healthfulness. Allow the occasional slip-ups or even the intentional ones and know that you can still stay on a healthy track overall.
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