Intuitive Eating. Many of us have heard of it, but what does it mean to put it into practice?
First and foremost, Intuitive Eating is a way of eating that has nothing to do with diets, meal plans, or restricting certain food groups. If you’re already thinking this sounds crazy, stick with me.
The reason this sounds strange is because we’re so accustomed to hearing that in order to get healthy, we have to diet, give up our favorite foods, or starve ourselves.
I have good news for you. It doesn’t have to be that way. My goal is to give clients the tools needed to honor their hunger, eat healthfully, feel amazing, and repair their relationship with food so they can eat the foods they love and feel their absolute best.
So let’s dive in – first, to answer the most important question:
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is an evidence based, mind-body approach to health, created by two dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It’s a personal process – focused on honoring your body by listening to its messages in order to meet your physical and psychological needs. Our bodies give us cues all day – when we’re hungry, stuffed, thirsty, tired, hot, cold, etc. Intuitive Eating is about listening to those cues surrounding food and hunger.
Intuitive Eating isn’t a meal plan or another diet, which is good news! Diets often don’t work very well long-term, and frequently lead us to developing a negative relationship with food. If you’ve ever praised yourself for eating very little in a day, or beat yourself up for having a cookie, you know exactly what I’m talking about. People will often have short term success with diets because they tend to eat less processed foods and eat in a caloric deficit but ultimately, strict dieting becomes a lot of work, adds more stress to your life, and usually isn’t a sustainable way of living for very long.
Intuitive Eating is a sustainable way to learn how to listen to your natural cues and nourish your body well out of respect for yourself. Intuitive Eating is for everyone. If you’re ready to make peace with food, honor your health and respect your body, read on.
Intuitive Eating is designed to get you back to your roots – by learning to eat in a way that trusts your body and its signals. As you read through the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, you may find that some or all of these apply to you and your own relationship with food. Take your time. Give some thought to each one and determine if or how it applies to you, and what it looks like to change some of the behaviors around them.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
Ditch Diet Mentality – commercials, magazine covers, and even billboards give us false hope that we can lose weight quickly and keep it off, but we all know it isn’t that easy. Learning to ditch this mentality will help you learn to approach food in a fresh way that has nothing to do with rules and deprivation.
Honor Your Hunger Cues – it’s essential that you fuel your body with adequate energy. When we deprive ourselves from any one particular food or food group, it creates a drive to overeat. Once you reach the point of excessive hunger, all good intentions go out the window and we end up eating far more in one sitting than if we had never restricted in the first place. This is an important step. Learning to honor your hunger allows you to rebuild and repair trust with yourself and food.
Make Peace with Food – give yourself permission to eat. If you’ve ever told yourself that you can or can’t have certain foods, you understand how it can lead to feelings of deprivation. When we finally give in to eating that food, we almost always overeat or binge, which lead to feelings of guilt and shame. We have to stop this cycle, and make peace with food, allowing ourselves to eat and enjoy all food groups.
Challenge the Food Police – the food police are the thoughts we have surrounding food that make us pride ourselves for only eating salad and eating as few calories as possible, and then beat ourselves up for having a cookie. These are unreasonable rules that diet culture has created. You may not even realize the food police are there, but pay attention to your thoughts surrounding hunger and meals, and challenge those thoughts when they creep in. It’s essential to repairing your relationship with food.
Respect Your Fullness Cues – in the same way our bodies tell us when we’re hungry, they also tell us when we’re full. Pay attention to the signs that communicate that you are comfortably full. As you eat your meal, observe your current fullness level, and pay attention to what you’re eating – how does it taste, what are you enjoying most about it? (More on mindful eating during our lecture series!).
Learn What it Means to Feel Satisfied – eating can be a pleasurable and satisfying experience when we begin to move past those negative associations with food. When you eat in an enjoyable environment and pay attention to what you’re eating, you’ll be more in tune with when you feel satisfied and content. When you do this, you’ll discover that it takes much less food to actually feel full.
Honor Your Emotions Without Using Food – at some point in our lives, many of us begin using food as comfort or to distract ourselves. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, fear, and anger are all real emotions we experience throughout our lifetime. Unfortunately food won’t fix any of these issues. We receive a quick dopamine hit from eating our favorite foods but it’s only a short distraction from the pain. Ultimately we’ll have to deal with the negative feelings we’re having, and then will also have to deal with the discomfort of overeating.
Show Respect for Your Body – we all have a very different genetic makeup. Respect your body so that you can feel better about who you are, and accept that because of our genetic blueprint, we may never achieve a certain body type that our culture has told us we should strive for.
Move Your Body – schedule in some regular exercise. Get active and focus on more movement, rather than how many calories you burned. If you focus on how you feel from exercise, like getting stronger or feeling more energetic, it makes it easier to want to get in movement, rather than skipping activity altogether.
Honor Your Health – learn to make food choices that honor your health as well as your tastebuds. Acknowledge that it’s ok to have fun foods for snacks, a meal, or a day. It’s the foods you choose consistently over time that make a long-term impact on your health. Strive for progress toward long-term health, rather than perfection at each meal.
We’ll go over all of these in more detail during my speaker series event on February 2. So in the meantime, review the principles, begin thinking about how they apply to you, and get prepared to take a deep dive into Intuitive Eating shortly!
Author Erin Moussallem is a personal trainer at Hyatt Training. She believes it’s important to create health and balance in all areas of our lives, and incorporating a consistent training program is an integral component of that. Erin holds a bachelor of arts from Biola University and is a NASM certified personal trainer. Learn more about Erin, or get in touch with her by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.
Hyatt Training is a collective of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. To read more nutrition-related posts like this one, follow this link.