If you ever spend time around an infant, you’ll notice that they are very in tune with what their bodies need. They let you know when they’re hungry, and they stop eating — and usually pass out — when they’re full. But as people grow up in today’s diet-focused culture, we become distanced from this internal knowledge of what we need. Instead of listening to our bodies, we let outside sources such as diet rules and the moral labels of “good” and “bad” foods dictate what, when and how much we eat. Intuitive eating is all about getting back to trusting our internal mechanisms when it comes to eating.
What is intuitive eating?
A philosophy of eating that encourages people to satisfy their hunger cues and cravings without shame or guilt, intuitive eating encourages folks to make peace with food and their bodies. It is a mindset that shifts focus away from changing the number on the scale to changing behaviors.
Principles of intuitive eating
The concept has been around since at least the 1970s, but the phrase “intuitive eating” was coined in a 1995 book by nutritionists Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Their work laid out 10 principles of intuitive eating.
One of the main principles is rejecting the diet culture that surrounds us in the modern age. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about half of U.S. adults try to lose weight every year. While restricting calorie intake, banning certain foods and exercising to burn calories seem like the keys to weight loss, their effects are often short lived and can lead to unhealthy habits.
For many people, restricting the types of foods they can have creates feelings of deprivation and cravings that eventually lead to bingeing the forbidden foods, causing feelings of overwhelming guilt. This negative cycle can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health. Instead of assigning morality to foods, think of them as their nutritional value and how they make you feel. Choose those foods that satisfy your taste buds while also honoring your health. It’s important to keep in mind that it is what you eat consistently over time that matters. One snack, meal or even day of eating does not make you unhealthy.
Another one of the main ideas of intuitive eating is listening to your body. Being able to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger is essential so you are able to satisfy both properly.
- Physical hunger builds over time and is accompanied by different signals from your body, such as a growling stomach, fatigue or irritability. Eating something before you become excessively hungry will allow you to make more conscious decisions about what foods you choose.
- Emotional hunger is triggered by feelings such as sadness, loneliness, boredom, anxiety or anger. A good practice is to pause before making a decision about what to eat and look for physical hunger cues. If you do not notice any, try to identify what emotion you are feeling and address it in non-food-related way.
Movement is also an important part of living intuitively. Let go of the notion that exercise’s sole purpose is to burn off calories and embrace how good it makes you feel. Regularly engage in your favorite activities that get you moving and take note of how your body feels while moving and how energized you feel after.
Last but not least, respect your body. No matter its size, it can do amazing things. Enjoy the life it gives you. Recognize that you only get the one body you inhabit, so treat it kindly.
Help with healthy eating
If you are ready to start your intuitive eating journey but have questions or need more direction, the care providers at Midwest Express Clinic are here to help! We can walk you through changes you can make each day to start living a healthier life. Check in online today.