We live in a world obsessed with diets and weight loss. We are constantly inundated with new weight loss techniques every day, whether they be shakes, pills, or cutting out specific food groups because they are “bad.” Somewhere along the way, the lessons we’ve learned about food have caused us to stop listening to our bodies and just do what we feel society is telling us to. From jokes about eating our feelings to diets that eliminate specific food groups, we’ve lost our ability to judge for ourselves what to eat. Enter, intuitive eating. Truly listening to what your body needs vs. telling your body what it needs. There’s an entire book written titled “Intuitive Eating” that walks you through just how to begin your journey with intuitive eating.
The idea of intuitive eating is to take a break from the normal rules and regulations about food that have been ingrained in our brains since we were young. As children, we are always told to finish our plates, and there are rules set up around when we can have dessert. It immediately puts us on a path to a relationship with food that is potentially negative. Intuitive eating asks you to really listen to what your body needs.
The 10 steps or concepts of intuitive eating are these:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Respect your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise- Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health
The ones from this list that stand out most to me are Rejecting the diet mentality, Honor Your Fullness, Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food, and Respect Your Body. I’ll try on touch on all of them here.
Diets are generally temporary things that only work for a short time and can give you a negative view of certain foods. If you focus on changing your overall perception of food and see it as something to be enjoyed and fuel your body, you are less likely to feel the need to diet.
It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling when you’re eating as well. Respect your fullness so that you stop eating when you should, rather than overeating. I think this one goes along with Honoring Your Feelings Without Using Food. It’s easy to overeat when you eat emotionally. I think it’s important to ask yourself why you’re eating. Is it because you’re bored or sad, or do you genuinely feel hungry? Try finding something else when you’re bored or depressed other than eating. Another one that coincides with respecting your fullness is also honoring your hunger. If you are truly hungry your body will let you know, and you shouldn’t deny it, the nutrients that it needs. The important thing is not to let yourself get so hungry that you end up binge eating.
It’s important to “challenge the food police” as well. It just means you need to shut down the voice in your head that tells you to avoid certain foods or feel guilty if you do indulge. Life is all about balance so indulging occasionally, shouldn’t evoke horrible feelings of guilt or feeling like you should make up for something. Along with challenging the food police, you need to also make peace with your food or specifically with specific food groups. Eating a variety of foods is important to have a balanced life and diet. Saying all fats are bad or all carbs are bad will shut you off from many foods that are delicious and can be right for you in moderation.
Discover the satisfaction factor. Start paying attention when you eat and eat a little slower. You may realize you are satisfied sooner than you think. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomach’s, and it’s easy to think we can eat more than we need to. If you slow down a little, you might recognize your satisfaction before you become too full.
Respect your body and honor your health. As you start working on intuitive eating, your bodies weight will adjust to where it’s supposed to be. Trust that it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Bodies are not supposed to look one specific way. Each of us is unique, and our bodies are the same. Trust that your body is doing what it’s supposed to support and nourish you. Intuitive eating is a mindset change and will take time, but overall, your relationship with food will become more positive, and you’ll be able to live a healthier lifestyle. Finally, exercise is the icing on the cake if you will. Eating is a massive part of living a healthier life, but exercise will make you both physically and mentally stronger. When you exercise, you feel better so you will be more inclined to eat better.