Intuitive eating is a philosophy that rejects traditional dieting and requires listening to your body’s own cues to decide what, when, and how much to eat. The approach is not designed to lose weight, instead it takes a holistic view of your mental and physical health. Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t set rules about what to avoid and what or when to eat.
We are all born natural intuitive eaters. Babies cry and eat to show their hunger and stop eating when they are full. Children balance their food intake from week to week, eating when they are hungry and stopping when they feel full. Some days they may eat a lot and other days they may eat almost nothing. As we get older and rules and restrictions are placed on food, we lose our intuitive eater. We learn to finish everything on our plate. We learn that dessert is a reward or that it can be taken away if we misbehave. We are told that certain foods are good for us and others are bad. It makes us feel good when we eat some foods and guilty when we eat others.
However intuitive eating It is not a ‘hunger-satiety diet’. Intuitive eaters give themselves unconditional permission to eat whatever they want without guilt. They rely on internal signals of hunger and satiety, among other cues such as energy levels, mental clarity, and stress levels, and they rely on their bodies to tell them when, what, and how much to eat. They know when they want vegetables and when they want dessert (and they don’t feel regret or guilt about either choice).
You may need to relearn how to trust your body to eat intuitively. To do this, you need to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger:
Physical hunger: This biological impulse tells you to replenish nutrients. It occurs gradually and has different signals such as stomach growling, tiredness or irritability. It is satisfied when you eat any food.
Emotional hunger: This is due to emotional need. Sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the emotions that create cravings for food. Eating later causes guilt and self-loathing.
What are the Benefits of Intuitive Eating?
Tired of diets and feeling guilty about what you eat? You are not alone in this struggle. Our strict dietary culture has caused many people to feel good or bad about their bodies and life based on the food they eat. According to nutritionists, strict food rules are the main reason diets don’t work and are starting to have a negative impact on overall health and well-being.
The more food rules you have, the more we focus on eating. The more you restrict certain foods, the more you want them. The trick is to allow these foods without guilt or judgment.
There are over 100 research studies looking at intuitive eating, and intuitive eating has been shown to have many health consequences, including:
- Improved cholesterol levels
- better body image
- higher self esteem
- improved metabolism
- Decreased rates of disordered and emotional eating
- Decreased stress levels
- Increased satisfaction with life
When you eat in a stressful situation, your digestion may stop completely. This can cause constipation and lead to a range of gastrointestinal issues. But as your food anxiety and stress decreases and you learn how certain foods affect your body, you may experience fewer gastrointestinal symptoms.
You tune in to your body’s hunger, satiety, and satiety cues, and you can take the time to decipher each situation when you reach it. You take your time and savor every bite.
You let go of the guilt you once attached to eating certain foods and learned to trust your body. You know what you eat doesn’t define you. As you learn to trust yourself and live a regret-free life, your overall self-confidence will increase. You don’t think you owe your health or your body to others.
You can turn off your inner food police and enjoy a variety of foods without judgment or guilt.
Now that you are no longer eating by external signals, you can explore foods and understand what you like and dislike. Often times, you find that you don’t like some “forbidden” foods that you may have eaten in the past. Alternatively, you have the freedom to explore food without the “good” and “bad” chains, which means you’ll often find loads of foods or recipes you never knew you might like.
While intuitive eating is not a weight loss strategy, some studies suggest that intuitive eaters for those following a strict diet regimen proved to be weaker. Intuitive eating is the process of establishing a healthy relationship between your body and food.