Intuitive eating aims to promote a healthy attitude towards food, teaching how to get in touch with your body cues such as hunger, fullness and satisfaction. The approach isn’t designed for weight loss, instead it considers your mental and physical health holistically.
Relying solely on diet trends and what, when and how to eat can lead you away from trusting your body intuition. Eating intuitively essentially relies on eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. Sounds easy, right? Although it sounds like it should be an intuitive process, for many people it’s actually quite difficult.
We are born with the skill to eat, to stop when we’re full, to eat when we’re hungry and to eat satisfying foods. But as we grow up we lose track of this and as the diet culture presents false truths and food rules, we begin to place more and more emotional value on food, saying things such as “I feel so guilty because I ate that block of chocolate”.
We must stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, which causes many of us to have a love-hate relationship with food, and instead eat balanced wholefood snacks and meals consistently.
This doesn’t mean eating anything and everything all the time. It means listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
When it comes to intuitive eating, you need to go back to basics - to relearn how to trust and listen to your body. You need to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
- Physical hunger - The biological urge to replenish your body’s nutrients, signalled by fatigue, a growling stomach, or irritability.
- Emotional hunger - Driven by feelings and also known as comfort eating - craving food because we have feelings of sadness, loneliness or boredom.
The term intuitive eating was coined in 1995 by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. In the hugely successful book, they outlined 10 basic principles of their philosophy:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise - feel the difference
- Honor your health
Over the years there have been several studies on intuitive eating and its health benefits. Here are just a few benefits of intuitive eating:
- Can help you to regain confidence in your eating habits
- Freedom from ‘diet’ thoughts
- More positive body image
- A boost in self-esteem
- Reduced stress
- Lower cholesterol
- You’ll relearn how to trust your body
Here are some simple ways to help you to start eating intuitively:
- Reject diet culture
- Stop judging food as ‘good’ or ‘bad
- Be aware of what you actually want to eat
- Eat nutritious snacks/meals consistently (every 3-4 hours)
- Listen to your body - if you’re full, stop eating!
- Stay hydrated
- Get plenty of sleep
I’d love to know your thoughts on intuitive eating so leave me a comment below!