We guide you through how to embrace intuitive eating, including explaining exactly what it is and how you can use it to improve your health and nutrition habits.
What exactly is intuitive eating and what does it look like on a practical level? This article outlines strategies for challenging diet culture and reconnecting with your body’s needs with strategies for how to embrace intuitive eating.
Maybe you have heard the term ‘intuitive eating’ thrown around and you are wondering what it truly means. Can I really trust my body to know what it needs when it comes to food? This concept can be particularly difficult for individuals who have developed unhealthy relationships with food over the years. (If you feel like you have been experiencing ruminating thoughts surrounding food, learn more about rumination at Mind Diagnostics.)
How to embrace intuitive eating
If you have found yourself stuck in the cycle of dieting and restriction, you may feel alarmed by the idea of letting go of calorie counting and learning to reconnect to your body’s inner wisdom. Let’s first look at what it is, and the best strategies to implement it. How to have more energy: physical and mental energy boosters
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an approach that emphasizes listening to your body in making choices around food. It is based on 10 principles which allow you to reconnect with your hunger cues and honor what your body needs in the present moment. Intuitive eating proposes rejecting cultural messages of what body shapes “should” strive for, and which behaviors around food are permissible in order to attain these unrealistic ideals.
That being said, it is crucial to acknowledge that intuitive eating is not a strategy for weight loss. It is instead an avenue of challenging diet culture that promotes restriction and self-deprivation in order to arrive at a place of contentment. Intuitive eating offers a transformative way to make peace with food and your body right where you are.
Strategies for Moving Towards Intuitive Eating
1- Make a commitment to stop dieting. Fad diets which involve strict food limitations are not sustainable in the long run, and also do not prove to be effective. Research has shown that dieting does not work, as many individuals gain back the weight they lose. Instead of seeking out the next diet that promises lasting results, think about the cost of dieting on your mental health and overall well-being.
Dieting often spurs feelings of guilt, shame, low self-esteem and can lead to patterns of disordered eating. The first step in practicing intuitive eating is deciding you are tired of feeling like you’re ‘bad’ or wrong for enjoying your favorite foods. Intuitive eating is a way to push back against diet culture that prevents you from trusting yourself and living fully.
2- Tune back into your hunger cues. Maybe you have gotten used to allotting specific times in the day for meals and snacks, or carefully counting calories or portions. Intuitive eating embraces the idea of ‘eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you are full.’ This means that if you are hungry an hour before your typical lunch time, you can allow yourself to grab a snack.
Sometimes your body needs more fuel on certain days and that is perfectly normal. Trust your body’s signals to tell you when you are hungry and check in with yourself during a meal to assess whether you are satisfied to know when to stop eating.
3- Challenge the good/bad food mentality. It is common for individuals to internalize ideas about which foods are ‘good’ and ‘bad’. In reality, foods do not hold moral value. All food is fuel and provides sustenance to the body. Therefore, it is important to challenge thoughts that enjoying a certain food is ‘being bad.’
The intuitive eating approach suggests that no foods are off limits and promotes the idea of moderation. It will likely take time to get used to the idea that no certain food or food group is banned. Working towards adopting this mindset allows you to honor our food cravings without self-judgment or shame.
4- Acknowledge your feelings without turning to food. Many people find themselves reaching for food if they are feeling bored, stressed or anxious. It is important to develop awareness over the underlying reasons you may be turning to food and find other ways to nurture yourself.
Instead of using food to fill a void or numb out difficult emotions, connecting to intuition means accessing your emotions and developing strategies for self-soothing.
5- Be kind to your body. Intuitive eating not only changes your relationship to food but also to your body. It is about learning to take steps towards body acceptance and appreciating all that your body does on a daily basis. It is engaging in physical activity because it feels good, and it is healthy to do so instead of viewing it as punishment or a way to alter body size.
Being kind to your body might look like engaging in movement that feels good to you one day and resting on another day if you are feeling fatigued. Reconnecting to your intuition means trusting that your body will let you know what it needs, and you are open to listening to its wisdom.
Genevieve Dumas is a design, fashion, food and style writer who has worked on major magazines and mastheads in the United States and Europe.