Nowadays, we are so wrapped up in the next diet trend it’s hard to know what’s really healthy and wholesome. We find ourselves bouncing from prioritizing one nutrient to just weeks later completely cutting it out due to all the varying information out there. There’s so much confusion revolving around nutrition, it’s hard to know what to eat.
Building a laundry list of foods we are forbidden to consume, our options for food become extremely slim. Many of us believe the only way to lose weight and keep it off for a healthy lifestyle is to torture ourselves for as long as we possibly can. Until when, though? For anyone who needs to recover from long term restriction and diet culture, there is a better way--intuitive eating.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an approach to nutrition that was developed to repair people from the side effects of all the fad yo-yo dieting that promises quick, amazing results. Rather than having regret for giving into the foods you “can’t” have and then building unhealthy thoughts around the “horrible” decisions you have made, intuitive eating is much different.
An intuitive eater is defined as a person who makes food choices without experiencing guilt. This is because their focus is on listening to the body and eating foods that satisfy and nourish it. This way of thinking is used to heal the mind and move away from the mentality that you have to be “on a diet” in order to be happy with your body.
Intuitive eating is not calculating macros or counting calories. It is not timing your meals out perfectly.
Why We Should Practice Intuitive Eating
If you have been that person who crunches numbers all day, feeling removed from your own hunger cues and needs of your body, just to find yourself unsustainable with your practices and unhappy with they way you feel and look, this way of eating might be for you (this doesn’t mean that counting macros is bad; there’s no size fits all way to eat and I always recommend you find what works best for you).
Studies show that the practice of intuitive eating actually results in decreased weight, increased happiness and higher self esteem because these people tend to have a healthier wellbeing overall. This approach focuses on finding enjoyable ways to fuel the body.
How To Practice Intuitive Eating
Now that you know what intuitive eating is and why it’s important, let’s discuss how to implement it in your life with these four tips:
1. Stop thinking you have to be on a diet.
As explained above, you do not have to be “on” some sort of restriction for a period of time in order to lose weight and keep it off. Hundreds of years ago we didn’t have macro calculators and nutrition labels on everything. Rather than crunching numbers all day, listen to what your body is saying it needs.
2. Honor your hunger cues – and respect your fullness levels.
Start asking yourself what you WANT to eat. Listen to your body and what it really needs because it will actually tell you. This can be hard if you have adhered tightly to a strict plan for years.
Many people struggle with knowing when they’re hungry and when to stop eating. Ask yourself what feeling hungry and full feels like? If you don’t know, start being mindful during meal/snack times. Stop half way through your meal and ask yourself how you feel? This takes conscious effort but does become easier as you practice it more.
3. Make peace with “forbidden foods”
By allowing yourself to eat what you want, you are stopping the cycle of an unhealthy relationship with food in its tracks. Your body will begin to trust the food you put in it and therefore will have a significant decrease in cravings and need to overeat.
Making lists of foods you can’t have just creates a larger desire to have those foods in the first place. Allowing yourself moderation of all foods takes the hype away from foods you don’t really want.
4. Ignore the unhealthy advice around you.
This might be the hardest tip because it’s so easy to get sucked into other people’s success stories. Remember, no one person’s nutrition needs are exactly the same so it’s impossible to expect to look exactly like someone else.
Likewise, you really don’t know all the many other factors that go into how they achieved their body composition in the first place. If it makes things easier – unfollow the people who are not benefitting your healthy relationship with food on all sources of social media. Surround yourself with others who believe in real food to fully nourish the body with what it needs.
You now know what intuitive eating is, why it’s beneficial, and how to practice it in your everyday life. Ditch the diet mentality, honor your hunger, and eat what your body needs for nourishment while surrounding yourself with others who have a healthy relationship with food.