By: Taylor Reed
In a world full of diet culture, many people feel as though food takes up a large space in their brain. Meal planning, meal prepping, what not to eat, what I want to eat, did I eat too much? why am I craving this? Sometimes thoughts about food and eating just don’t seem to go away. After dieting, you may be longing for a healthy relationship for food but maybe just don’t know how to get there. Intuitive eating is here to help you, friend!
Intuitive eating is an approach to become aware of our body’s natural cues – hunger cues, fullness cues – and diving into honoring our bodies and trusting our bodies. Today’s blog post is all about intuitive eating, so keep reading to learn how to change your relationship with food forevermore!
What Exactly is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is defined as a framework of eating that turns you into an expert of your body and its hunger and fullness cues. Intuitive eating was created in 1995 by two Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Intuitive eating allows us to make peace with food by banishing the diet mentality of thinking of food as “good” or “bad”. Intuitive eating is weight inclusive and is a non-diet approach to health.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
When Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created intuitive eating, they included principles to understand IE and how to walk away from dieting. Intuitive eating follows 10 principles which are:
Reject the Diet Mentality
To truly break free from diet culture you need to let go of the things that stop you from choosing food freedom. Delete food tracking apps, unfollow diet culture social media accounts, and understand that diets don’t work! Surround yourself with things that uplift you and encourage mindfulness, body positivity, and intuitive eating.
Honor Your Hunger
Your body knows what it needs – honor that! When you are hungry, eat! We don’t force ourselves to “wait until a certain time” to go to the bathroom, so why do we think we need to wait to eat? Your body is your home, trust that it has your back.
Make Peace with Food
Our bodies require food to survive and thrive. Food is our fuel – isn’t that a beautiful thing? Food doesn’t have morality, it is neither “good” nor “bad”. Once that is learned, you are well on your way towards food freedom!
Challenge the Food Police
Diet culture wants us to be stuck with all of these “food rules” but if we choose to listen to our bodies and honor our bodies cues, we are challenging diet culture and slowly breaking away.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Food is meant to be enjoyed! Unfortunately, diet culture has impacted the way we view food. Fears around food are very common due to “food rules” which makes enjoying our food and being present while eating very difficult. Being mindful at mealtimes and listening to your body will help to allow you to feel satisfaction around food.
Respect Your Fullness
It takes about 20 minutes into a meal for our bodies to sense fullness. Be mindful while you eat and take your time. When you sense that you are full, put your fork down, slide your plate across the table, and know that you can eat more later if that’s what your body wants.
Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Intuitive eating is a journey which requires patience and kindness. You are doing something beautiful – working on yourself! After dieting for a significant period, letting go of the rules that you created around food may feel difficult. Stepping out of your comfort zone with food may feel uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, but that is to be expected. Trying new things often does feel scary. Be kind to yourself and find hobbies that ease your anxiety such as journaling, gentle movement, reading a book, going for a drive, or listening to music or your favorite podcast!
Respect Your Body
Our bodies are incredible and do so much for us! Focus on all the things your body can do and celebrate that. Your body wants to keep you safe and healthy.
Joyful Movement – Feel the Difference
How often have you exercised because you felt like you “had to”? Do you feel guilty when you don’t exercise? Do you truly enjoy your workouts, or do you dread it? Movement is a wonderful thing and is something we shouldn’t take for granted. There are so many ways to get in some movement: walking around the grocery store, dancing to your favorite song, chasing your dog around the yard, yoga, walking on the beach, etc! Find movement that you love and that excites you and do it. Life is too short to spend it hating your workout and stressing over food!
Honor Your Health Through Gentle Nutrition
Gentle nutrition is all about choosing foods that make you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally pleasant. Gentle nutrition doesn’t have strict rules, it’s all about listening your body and eating foods that make you feel like your best self. Guilt-free eating, here I come!
Benefits of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating has many benefits for our mental and physical health. In total, there are now 200 different research studies looking at intuitive eating. Intuitive eating has been proven to benefit certain health outcomes, such as:
Lower LDL cholesterol levels
Lower triglyceride levels
Increased HDL cholesterol levels
Improved body image
Increased self confidence
Decreased rates of disordered eating
Improved overall satisfaction
While the health benefits of intuitive eating are incredible, let’s look at the overall benefits of intuitive eating!
You are able to listen to and honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
You no longer feel guilty for eating certain foods.
You no longer identify foods as “good” or “bad”.
Your food tastes better!
You are able to identify how certain foods make you feel.
You feel more energized throughout the day!
Food cravings diminish.
Your overall mood can improve.
Your digestion can improve.
You are able to be present and mindful while eating.
You can enjoy your food again.
You develop a sense of interoceptive awareness.
How Do I Begin My Intuitive Eating Journey?
Believe it or not, we were all born as intuitive eaters, so this will be familiar territory for your body. With diet culture being so prevalent, intuitive eating has now become unnatural. Intuitive eating is a journey – you are changing your mindset around food, improving your relationship with food, and breaking free from diet culture all at once! To embark on your journey towards food freedom, first you will need to get familiar with the 10 principles of intuitive eating which I discussed earlier. Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created a book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” as well as a workbook titled “The Intuitive Eating Workbook”. The workbook walks you through exercises and challenges you to truly become present at mealtimes and teaches you how to practice mindfulness. Another option is to seek out guidance from an Intuitive Eating Registered Dietitian. Many IE Registered Dietitians offer virtual services, so if you can’t find any in your area, virtual sessions would be an option. Lastly, enjoy the journey, be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and be proud of yourself. You are taking back control of your life and health by breaking free from diet culture!