Intuitive Eating – What it is and How to do it

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If you read last week’s blog, you know that dieting is not the way to achieve a healthy body weight (and you’re probably pretty mad that you’ve been lied to all these years).

I mentioned intuitive eating as the way to achieve long-term weight loss or stability while also maintaining your sanity and quality of life.

If you’re used to crazy difficult diet plans, breath a sigh of relief. Intuitive eating is the exact opposite of dieting.

Intuitive eating is not complicated. However, because you’ve been so conditioned to tell yourself what you should and shouldn’t eat instead of actually listening to what your body is asking for, it will take time to get comfortable with.

There are a few basic principals of intuitive eating that, in time, will help you ditch the continuous cycle of dieting and binging. It will allow you to give up fighting the constant battle over what you should or should not put in your mouth. It will help you cultivate a happy and healthy body (and mind).

So, how do you do it?

Principles of Intuitive Eating:

Ditch the Diet Mentality. Fully and completely let go of the notion that the next fad diet is the one that will finally bring you the body you’ve been longing for. Recognize that diets don’t work and that there is a better way.

Eat when you’re hungry. Allow yourself permission to eat when you are hungry. When you’ve consistently followed diets to know when and how much to eat, this can be difficult. The more you practice listening and responding to your hunger cues the easier it will be. In doing this, you send your body signals that food is no longer scarce. This will diminish the drive to compulsively overeat and allow your metabolism to function optimally.

Stop labeling foods. Consciously choose to drop the subjective values you have placed on foods. There is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” food. Have you ever decided chocolate is a bad food and then successfully avoided it forever?

Me neither.

Labeling and abstaining from certain foods can cause feelings of deprivation. These feelings prime you to binge eat when you do inevitably “give in” to these “bad” foods. If you actively work to remove these labels from foods, they lose their power over you. Chocolate becomes something that you can moderately include in a healthy diet; not something you vow never to eat and binge on later.

Tune in to your eating experience. When all you’re focused on is being thin, it’s easy to miss the joy of eating. Take time to eat without distractions; no books, TV or perusing Facebook. Focus on the smells, flavors and textures of your foods. This allows you to reconnect with the pleasure in eating. You will slow down, enjoy your food more, and need less to feel satisfied.

Stop when you’re full. Just like you need to cue in and respond to your body’s hunger cues, it is equally important to stop once you are satiated. If you have been following diets and mindlessly consuming food, it’s likely you’ve lost touch with this ability. By tuning in to your eating experience you’re better able to recognize when you’re full. By allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat, you will feel okay stopping when you’re full, even when something tastes good, knowing you can always eat more later.

 

The basic, overarching premise of intuitive eating is that you must give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want, when you want it.

If this sounds absurd you are not alone. When I first learned about this concept I was shocked. I thought that if I allowed myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, I would surely consume more chocolate than my body could handle. I would gain tons of weight! I would be a glutton!

I had to work slowly and deliberately to integrate this practice into my life and as it turns out – none of those things happened.

In fact, I eat less chocolate now then I did when I tried to manipulate and control everything I put in my mouth. And I enjoy it more too.

As incredulous as this may seem to you, you can do it. It will be difficult, at first, to rid yourself of past perceptions and to combat the voice that tells you what you should and should not eat. It will be hard to “hear” your hunger and fullness cues. In time, if you consistently and honestly practice these steps, it will work.

You will find that you can eat whenever your body asks you to and you won’t gain weight (in some cases, you may lose some).

You will realize that you can consume chocolate (or whatever your favorite “forbidden” food is) without feeling guilty or accidentally eating the whole bag.

You will discover that your precious time is no longer wasted counting calories or wondering if you can go out to dinner with your friends tonight because you really don’t think you should eat anything on that menu.

You will notice that you no longer obsess over food and that it is an enjoyable and enriching part of your life.

You will find that you are free.

When you diet, you tell yourself that you are worthless, no good, not smart enough to even know what your body needs.

When you engage in intuitive eating, you tell yourself that you deserve to be healthy and enjoy your life, that you are smart and capable and that you are worthy of being loved, even by yourself.

 

 

To learn more about intuitive eating check out the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch or visit their website at https://www.intuitiveeating.com

 

 

by Kelsey Brown