Intuitive eating is a holistic approach to eating that people have been talking a lot about in the health and wellness community. This approach focuses on listening to your body’s hunger cues and internal wisdom. Instead of obsessively counting calories or restricting certain foods, intuitive eating encourages eating based on physical hunger, fullness, and satiety signals.
Here are the basic principles of intuitive eating (Developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch):
1) Reject the diet mentality. Recognize that dieting leads to food obsession, weight preoccupation and can damage your relationship with food.
2) Honor your hunger. Learn to identify the physical signs of hunger and satisfy your hunger appropriately when you feel it.
3) Make peace with food. Accept that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Food is not “good” or “bad”, “allowed” or “forbidden”.
4) Challenge the food police. Stop restricting or beating yourself up over food choices.
5) Feel your fullness. Pay attention to internal cues that indicate you are no longer hungry. Stop eating when full. To do this, it’s best to keep eating time strictly to eating time. Don’t work, look at your phone, or watch tv while eating, as you may find yourself mindlessly eating more than your body needs.
6) Respect your body. Honor your body’s unique set points, metabolism and individual needs. Reject unrealistic cultural ideals.
Studies have found that intuitive eating can help improve body image, reduce binge eating episodes and increase overall wellbeing. (1,2) It takes time and practice to learn or re-learn how to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. And it can be especially difficult when dealing with stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues. But with patience and consistency, intuitive eating can become a sustainable way of life that will give you freedom from diet culture.
Give intuitive eating a try. Start by listening to your hunger signals and stopping when you first feel full. Reject any “good” or “bad” thoughts about the foods you choose. With practice, you’ll become more and more in tune with your body’s true needs.
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This study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that intuitive eating was inversely associated with disordered eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction among college women.