Intuitive eating is not a diet or a popular eating program based on calories reduction, food restriction or carbohydrate counting. It’s a philosophy that helps you get rid of diets, to reconnect with yourself and with your body, and most of all to feel free and happy in your own skin.
Intuitive Eating is a term adopted by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 90s. Since then they have written many books and have developed several investigations that prove the effectiveness of their method, they have also directed many studies to identify the psychological and emotional damage of diets in people who regularly use them.
In essence, eating intuitively means that you completely drop your diet mentality and forget about this neverending cycle of starting and abandoning diets. It helps you to get rid of these ideas that you have about food that makes you feel guilty or makes you feel limited and that you can’t enjoy food or enjoy life itself.
For me, it is extremely important to talk about this topic, because after many years of dieting, I realized that this was no longer the solution. I was totally tired of having ideas of prohibition and feelings of limitation. My goal was to make peace with food and feel good, to remove this constant feeling of wanting to change my body to feel happy or confident.
After some research, I discovered this beautiful philosophy that has helped me eliminate this idea of good or bad foods, this sense of failure because I couldn’t keep up with my diet and most of all the limitation of eating just some foods or completely eliminate a whole group of them. Now I don’t depend on a weight scale to tell me if I can feel good, or if I am good enough because I lost some pounds.
How is conscious eating related to intuitive eating?
Although to me there’s a connection between the two of them, there is also some difference.
Conscious eating incorporates:
- Nourishing your body positively, like preparing your meals, as well as being fully aware when you are eating.
- Respecting your inner wisdom and listen to your body to feed yourself and choosing the best options for you and your body.
- Choosing food that you like but food that also nourishes you and your body.
- Recognizing the response you have to the food you eat and respect it without judging or editing what you feel.
- Learning to recognize when you are hungry and eat only when you want to nourish yourself.
- Learning to recognize when you are already satisfied and agree to stop eating.
Intuitive eating contains all the principles of conscious eating, but it goes a step further. For me to eat intuitively is to reconnect with your body, your mind and your emotions, is to listen to all the wisdom of your body and nature. It is learning to listen to your body, forgetting what the experts tell you. Nobody can be an expert in your body or in your emotions or in your life but you.
Intuitive eating helps you to:
- Realize the important role of your emotions.
- Be aware of what you feel and to choose healthier ways to manage your emotions.
- Change your diet mentality, and all the rules and restrictions you have around food.
- Use nutritional information in a positive way, without judging and without feeling guilty if one day you decide to have that cake you like so much you are free to do it without shame.
- But above all, it helps you to learn to love your body no matter how you see yourself today.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Reject the diet mentality
The diet mentality is the result of having done many diets in your life, of constantly gaining and losing weight and of never being satisfied with your weight or your body. This mentality keeps you thinking that with a new diet you can lose weight quickly and permanently and that finally you can be happy or be confident and that you will be able to appreciate your body.
Intuitive food completely takes you away from this mentality and asks you to throw away all your magazines and books that talk about diets once and for all, forget about the scale and stop thinking that with a diet you will achieve the ideal weight and achieve what you have wanted so much for a long time.
Just by keeping this idea that you can go on another diet and will help you to lose weight or reach your ideal weight in less time, will take you further and further away from intuitive eating. After all, how many diets have you made? How many of them gave you the result you wanted and helped you maintain it? Were you really happy once you’ve achieved that weight? Or were you in a constant frenzy because you didn’t want to gain that weight back?
It is time for us to accept that we have tried the same strategy over and over again and it has not given us the result we wanted. And somehow we continue to use the same strategy, thinking that the next diet will be our magic recipe to lose weight once and for all and be happy.
2. Honor your hunger
Sometimes we have spent so much time going on diets that we no longer know when we are really hungry. We no longer notice that we keep eating even though we are satisfied, and this is because the diets have left this reaction to limitations and the famine we have put our bodies subjected to.
Intuitive eating is to listen to your body cues again and nourish it when it needs to be nourished. It means that when you feel the first signs of hunger is best to eat, otherwise, when you are really hungry you will tend to eat much more and you will not be able to enjoy your food or you will eat whatever you find at hand.
If you have spent a lot of time dieting, this is a process that you must learn to develop and take some time to rediscover your body cues so that you are aware of them and tend to them.
3. Make Peace with Food
I know that after so many diets out there and so much information about foods that are good, what is not, those that help you lose weight and those that do not, it is difficult to think that food is your friend. But this is an essential step if what you really want is to forget about diets, food is your friend and we can no longer be thinking that one food is bad and another is not, because that generates feelings of guilt and makes you have cravings about those things that are “forbidden”.
It doesn’t mean that we are going to eat junk food or processed food all the time, instead, we are going to focus on the positive, what’s good for your body, what makes you feel good. At first, you may want to eat all that you could not eat while you were on a diet, but little by little you will see that this desire diminishes. Just by not limiting or prohibiting food will take away the desire to eat junk food or things that do not make you feel good.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Of course, by this moment, the thoughts of guilt or reproach regarding food are almost automatic, so it is necessary to develop a higher consciousness about our thoughts and stop them. Let’s try to stop thinking about all these rules that you have imposed on yourself and that is now part of your inner critic and what you use to remind yourself to follow these diets and restrictions.
Work on managing and limiting that negative internal conversation, this will not only help you improve the relationship with food but with yourself. It will help you with your self-confidence, self-esteem and your self-image.
Eliminating all this negative self-talk and rules about yourself and your body will make you feel free, more confident and beautiful.
5. Respect Your Fullness
Be aware when you feel satisfied and stop eating. When you are dieting, it is necessary to stop eating based on what others tell you (according to the diet or the expert or a doctor), therefore you don’t really pay attention to what you feel and what your body is telling you. It happens frequently with people who have already spent a lot of time on diets that they no longer know how to read the signs of satiety, and they eat until they get tired and sometimes even after feeling full they continue to eat.
Also, you may be used to eating everything that is on the plate, to me personally when I was little I was not allowed to get up from the table until I finished everything on the plate. So this habit causes you to eat even when you are already satisfied, and you keep ignoring your body cues.
This is why it is important that now that you no longer have a diet mentality (or are working on it), you start to listen to those cues and respect them. Stop eating when you are satisfied and you will again achieve a balance in your body. Your body will no longer feel that you are going to put it on a diet and you will not have that desire to eat everything on your plate or everything in your pantry.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The main objective of eating is to nourish our body but we tend to forget that eating is a pleasure. When we are on a diet we are not allowed to enjoy food, mostly because we think we are eating what we don’t like. After so much time behaving this way you tend to forget that you deserve to enjoy eating. When we still have a diet mentality, eating becomes an exercise in eating what is forbidden and satisfying that lack, rather than in truly enjoying the food.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you enjoyed your meal? That is when you felt the real pleasure of eating with all your senses. To see how it smelled, the texture, the temperature, if it was beautiful to the eyes, and so on. I think sometimes we use food as a means to satisfy our emotional needs, and then it is no longer pleasure in itself, but rather a means to not feel so bad.
With intuitive eating, you will let yourself enjoy eating, you will feel the satisfaction of eating with your senses. When you eat, you will really want to eat and pay more attention to do it comfortably and in a place that allows you to pay full attention to the fact of eating.
7. Honor your feelings without using food
Find ways to work on yourself, to really discover what your emotional needs are and then you will be more aware of how to satisfy them without using food as a means. Develop emotional intelligence that will keep you in balance and make you handle uncomfortable situations in a healthier way.
Little by little you can eliminate the habit of eating when you feel bored, worried, alone or another emotional discomfort. This will not only help you improve your health and your body but also you will feel much better with yourself and you will see that you react differently to the situations that are presented to you in life.
8. Respect your body
We are so used to seeing what we do not like about our body, to try to take off those extra pounds and to compare ourselves with what is now fashionable that we forget how wonderful our body is. The many things that it allows us to do, and that in itself is a great system.
It’s hard to feel good if all your focus is on what you do not like. Many times when you are very focused on losing weight, we tend to isolate ourselves, we tend to think that other people see the same thing that we do, meaning the negative parts of ourselves. So it is important to begin to develop a better attitude towards your body and improve the relationship you have with it. Your body will not look good if all it receives is a bad treatment (lack of food, bad thoughts, lack of self-care).
Intuitive food helps you heal and repair that relationship with you and your body, focusing on how good it is and how much it allows you to do.
9. Exercise and feel the difference
Does it happen to you that when you think about exercising you hate it and don’t want to do it? Do you exercise only when you are on a diet?
When you have a diet mentality you tend to think of exercise as something that MUST be done, and therefore generates a feeling of hatred. It is thought that you have to do exhaustive activities to be able to burn calories and thus to be able to lose weight faster or you have simply developed a bad relationship with exercise because you think you should do something you do not like.
When you adopt an intuitive eating approach your focus changes to what satisfies you and what makes you feel good. So in terms of workouts, the focus should be on finding something you enjoy and something that makes you feel good. Also, as you have already begun to eat better, without restrictions and your body finally begins to have a balance, you begin to have more energy, which leads you to look for other activities and that is where the love for exercise begins to emerge.
Nobody said that exercise should be something painful, on the contrary, it is something that you enjoy. When you have the energy to do it, your body and mind begin to respond in different ways to it. You will discover a way to exercise that you love and that you do not even have a hard time doing it.
Learn to move your body in a way you’ll enjoy. Figure out what kind of activity feels good for you and do it because you love your body, not because you want to change it.
10. Honor your hunger
At the beginning when we hear about intuitive eating and its principles we think that by giving us permission to eat everything and without limits we will gain weight or that we will eat until we are very full or feeling sick, and the truth is that it is not so. What intuitive eating teaches you is to choose things that really make you feel good emotionally and physically. And guess what, those cupcakes, the excess of bread, fried foods and soft drinks do not really make you feel so good and progressively you will avoid them, not because you have to but because they don’t make you feel good physically and emotionally.
Natural and less processed foods will make you feel better and even keep you satisfied for longer, so the tendency will be to eat healthy and unprocessed foods.
Of course, all this is a process, in the beginning, it is important that you take care of your body and learn to recognize the natural signs that you have already forgotten, and little by little you will improve your choices and your health.
I hope these points will convince you that there is a healthier way to achieve your weight goals and have a better lifestyle. Intuitive eating does work and will help in your transformation towards a healthier life with a beautiful body inside and out.
Would you like to try intuitive eating?
Forget about diets and reconnect with your body.
A guide to improving your health, changing the relationship with food and listening to your body.
It includes everything you need to develop a new and healthy lifestyle, starting with the establishment of wellness goals and follow-up with meal planning, reconnect with yourself and have a better self-image.
This daily food journal can help you to improve your eating habits, reach your weight goal, stay motivated, track your food and beverage habits and avoid emotional eating by dealing with your emotions with a healthier way.