Intuitive eating is a philosophy that allows you to trust your own body and its hunger signals. It promotes a healthy attitude toward food and your body image. As children, we eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. At some point in our lives, we are drawn away from the natural way of eating. We start following fad diets and restrict ourselves from certain foods or food groups. This changes the way we look at food. We don’t instinctively eat when we are hungry; we eat when we are sad, bored or when something looks appetizing. Intuitive eating teaches us to trust ourselves and our choices. It teaches us to eat when we are physically hungry, not when we emotionally crave something.
It may be hard to re-teach yourself to eat intuitively. An important factor is to implement mindfulness when you are eating and when you are not. This will help you avoid eating food emotionally. You should eat food when you need it.
Before you eat you should think to yourself, do you need food right now? Or are you eating to distract yourself from your work, errands, etc? If you are using food to distract yourself, you can just go for a short walk or drink some water instead. It helps to acknowledge your feelings, rather than mindlessly eating food.
If you are actually hungry, think about what you want. It is important not to get too hungry since it makes it harder to make rational decisions. You may end up over eating. When you are eating, stay mindful. Make sure you stop when you are full, not when the plate is finished. Experience your food and enjoy it. To stay mindful, it may help to turn off the tv or computer and eat with no distractions.
There are ten key principles of the philosophy:
- Reject the diet mentality
Diets give you false hope of losing weight. They put restrictions on your diet, which may cause you to end up eating more later in the day. More importantly, you may end up gaining the weight back once you finish the diet.
- Honor your hunger
Respond to your hunger. Eat when you’re hungry and satisfy yourself! You do not have to go hungry. Going hungry can cause you to over eat. Eating when you are first hungry can help you build trust with your body. Your body knows when it needs energy!
- Make peace with food
All food is good. Give yourself permission to eat!
- Challenge the food police
Don’t be so hard on yourself if you have eaten too much. Your body will even itself and tell you when need the energy. Don’t restrict yourself from eating calories and skip meals.
- Respect your fullness
When you are eating, listen to your hunger signals. If you are full stop eating!
- Discover the satisfaction factor
If you make your eating experience enjoyable, in a calm, inviting room with good food, you will find that you will not need as much food to be full. Enjoy the experience and discover what you need to be full.
- Honor your feelings without using food
emotional eating is very common! Many people eat when they are lonely, sad or anxious. Learn to think about your feelings and find ways to ease these feelings without eating food. You can go for a job, meditate or call a friend.
- Respect your body
Learn to love your body for what it is. No one is perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Find ways to exercise that you enjoy! I love running; it clears my mind and makes me happy. It distracts me from real life and helps me focus on what is important.
- Honor your health
you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. A sweet snack or one greasy meal won’t ruin your health!