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Intuitive Eating: A more balanced approach?

What is Intuitive Eating?


Intuitive eating is a philosophy popularized by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in their book "Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works." It involves tuning into your body's hunger and fullness cues, eating for satisfaction, and rejecting the diet mentality. Ultimately, intuitive eating is not just about the food you eat—it's about embracing a balanced and sustainable approach to eating that supports a healthier, happier you.  This approach might not suit everyone, but it could be just right for you. 


Intuitive eating offers a more flexible approach to nourishing your body and mind. It emphasizes that all foods can be part of a balanced diet, rejecting the notion of labeling foods as "good" or "bad" and reducing the stress associated with such judgments. Tuning into your body's natural cues and signals can nurture a more balanced relationship with food, free from guilt or restriction. This approach encourages you to trust your body's wisdom, allowing you to make food choices based on what truly satisfies and nourishes you.


Intuitive Eating is not just an automatic response to how you feel in that moment. It's not an open invitation to consume foods daily that do not honor your well-being and health goals. The practice requires effort to be more mindful and make choices that serve your well-being through balanced, healthy nutrition. One treat, snack, or meal won't suddenly make you deficient or unhealthy. It's consistent, balanced eating over time that makes a difference. Focus on progress, not perfection.


How to Start Practicing Intuitive Eating 

10 Core Principals to Develop a Healthier Relationship with Food and Your Body


  1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Say goodbye to fad diets and rigid meal plans. Instead of relying on external rules and restrictions, you learn to listen to and trust your body's signals and make food choices that honor your taste buds and health.
  2. Honor Your Hunger: Listen to your body's cues and only eat when hungry. Ignoring these signals can result in overeating later.
  3. Make Peace with Food: Let go of food rules, restrictions, and moral judgments associated with eating. Removing restrictions makes you less likely to feel deprived and overeat.
  4. Challenge the Food Police: Dismiss the voice that deems you "good" for choosing low-calorie options or "bad" for indulging in chocolate cake. Question and challenge the food beliefs and rules you've internalized over time from the diet culture's unrealistic standards.
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Savor the flavors, textures, and aromas of food. It invites you to eat what you truly enjoy and find satisfying, rather than opting for diet foods that may leave you deprived or unsatisfied.
  6. Feel Your Fullness: Pay attention to your body's signals and conclude your meal when you feel contentedly full. Differentiate between genuine physical fullness and eating due to emotions.
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness: Discover alternative ways to manage stress, boredom, or sadness without turning to food. Emotional eating can lead to mindless overeating.
  8. Respect Your Body: Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. There is no "ideal" body type, and intuitive eating encourages individuals to embrace and celebrate body diversity. View your body as a vessel allowing you to experience life rather than solely as an object to be judged based on appearance.
  9. Movement: Feel the Difference: Choose physical activities that you find enjoyable and uplifting. Redirect your focus from burning calories to how the activities enhance your well-being and make you feel good.
  10. Honor Your Health with Nutrition: Choose foods that support your health and that you genuinely enjoy, leaving you feeling good about your choices. Remember, you don't have to eat perfectly to maintain health. 

The Benefits of Intuitive Eating

Embracing intuitive eating is a journey of reconnecting with your body. By practicing these mindful habits around food, you can enhance your psychological well-being, reduce anxiety, and foster self-acceptance. This approach to eating creates lasting lifestyle changes that boost well-being and happiness and contribute to improved physical health. The philosophy is deeply rooted in trusting your inner wisdom and your body's natural signals. It's about reestablishing a connection with your body's innate ability to guide you in making food and eating choices that best support your health and well-being. Trust your inner wisdom to guide what's best for your body and mind, relying less on external influences to determine your health choices.


Mindful Eating Journey


I've never been one to follow trendy diets; they always seemed too restrictive for my liking. I recognize that my body's nutritional needs are unique and not one-size-fits-all. Instead, I embrace mindful eating.

Like most people, I'm a fan of chocolate—it's my go-to stress reducer. Eating chocolate releases happy chemicals in the brain, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. When I tried to cut out chocolate completely, I would have binge sessions and go for the chocolate ice cream that I usually never bought. And then I would have to eat the entire tub over the weekend to "get it out of the house." I wanted a lifestyle change that prioritized both health and happiness. Rather than total restriction, I aimed to overcome sweet cravings while enjoying occasional treats without the guilt. I choose smaller portions of high-quality foods over quantity, typically pricier food selections. However, my grocery expenses have gone down since I stopped stress-related or addictive-related binge eating snacks. Mindful eating has fostered a positive food relationship, leading to a stress-free lifestyle change that benefits my mental and physical health.



Tips for Discovering Healthy Foods


I'm mindful of my food choices, prioritize reducing chemical intake, and regularly read food labels. Who has the time to decipher all those confusing ingredients on food labels while shopping? I follow Bobby Parrish, a chef, cookbook author, and YouTuber known for his popular cooking channel, FlavCity. Bobby's passion for cooking and commitment to healthy eating have earned him a large, dedicated following of food enthusiasts looking for practical, tasty, and health-conscious meal solutions. I use his Bobby Approved App, which is fun while shopping. You scan the bar code and get an instant thumbs up or down. Since watching his videos, I've become better informed about the confusing chemical ingredients on food labels. Using the app, I've let go of many food favorites I once believed were good for me because they say “organic" and "natural" when they have harmful ingredients. But I have found alternatives that I love and feel good about.

Is an Intuitive Eating Approach Right for You?


This approach is more about cultivating a positive mindset around food than designed to help you lose weight. For me, the practice did lead to permanent weight loss and a healthier mindset around food. And yes, I occasionally enjoy a sweet treat or pizza without guilt.

  

Why not give it a shot and tap into your body's wisdom? It's not for everyone, but it could be the perfect fit for you. It could lead to a healthier relationship with food and even permanent weight loss. What, when, and how you eat food is time and energy-consuming. Imagine the positive transformations you can enjoy if your relationship with food becomes stress-free.

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