Intuitive eating is where you listen to your body. It’s when you trust your body to know what it wants, when it wants it and how much of it it wants and/or needs. There’s no weighing, measuring, counting, etc.
Everyone is born an intuitive eater but we are taught at some point along the way many lies that bind us to a process known as dieting. Dieting has been scientifically proven to contribute to weight gain. When we fully understand that the body knows what it is doing and then trust our body once again to do its job, we are free from all the craziness that dieting has brought into our lives and we are truly free to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The 10 Intuitive Eating principles are:
- Reject the Dieting Mentality: this is where you get rid of all the dieting tools. Throw out all the dieting books and articles that have promised you quick, easy and permanent results. Get angry about the lies you’ve been told that have led you to believe that you are a failure every time you’ve stopped dieting and regained all the weight (and more). Allowing even one tiny glimmer of hope that there is a diet out there that will work for you will keep you from reconnecting with your intuitive eater.
- Honor Your Hunger: this is where you relearn that keeping your body biologically fed with adequate energy is important. If you fail to do this, a primal drive to overeat will be triggered by a body that thinks its being starved once again. Excessive hunger is the enemy and will send a sense of panic throughout your body. Learn to honor your hunger and learn about all the different ways your body signals you for fuel. Honoring your hunger will help you relearn how to trust yourself and food.
- Make Peace with Food: food is not, nor has it ever been, the enemy. Food is vital for your survival. The body’s #1 goal is to survive. Food is fuel and is what the body uses as its energy source. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Telling yourself that you “cannot” or “should not” have a certain kind of food will lead to intense feelings of deprivation that eventually lead to uncontrollable cravings and often times binging. (True and properly diagnosed food sensitivities and/or allergies should absolutely be respected.)
- Challenge the Food Police: don’t allow anyone, even yourself, to control what you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat, etc. The food police monitor the crazy dieting rules you’ve learned over the years and attempt to keep you “compliant” with each and every one of them. Dieting rules are un-natural and have no place in your life. Telling the food police to go away is vital to this process.
- Respect Your Fullness: respond to the body’s satiety signals. How does the food taste? What is your current fullness level? In the beginning of this process you may find that you feel as though you can’t stop eating because the food might not be there the next time you want to eat. This is normal. Keep food in the house; all kinds of foods. Nothing is off limits (unless you have a properly diagnosed food sensitivity or allergy).
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: rediscover how satisfying food is….The Japanese promote pleasure as one of the goals of healthy living. There is supposed to be great pleasure and satisfaction found in the eating experience. Enjoying what you are eating will aid in helping you feel satisfied and content. When you do this for yourself, you will find that it takes far less food to feel satisfied.
- Honor Your Feelings without Using Food: find other ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve emotional issues without using food. Human beings are emotional creatures and each emotion has its own trigger and its own release. Food will not fix any of the emotional states we experience throughout the day, week, month, or year. Food will not solve the problem. Emotional eating brings with it additional negative emotions that will leave you feeling worse. We all ultimately have to learn how to deal with the source of the emotion. Often times it’s linked to a lack of self-care.
- Respect Your Body: accept where you are right now. We are all different sizes on purpose. Find joy in YOUR body so you can feel better about how you are. Rejecting the dieting mentality is challenging when you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
- Movement – Feel the Difference: forget hours of exhausting exercise. Just get moving and feel how different it is. Take calorie burning out of the equation and just enjoy moving your body. If your only goal is to lose weight, it is not enough of a motivation. However, if your goal is to improve your health, you are more likely to continue moving throughout the day even after your body has normalized its weight.
- Honor Your Health: make food choices throughout the day that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Eating a perfect diet is not required in order to be and stay healthy. It is what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress is the goal not perfection. This is the last step on purpose. It may take a person years before they reach a point of being ready to consume mostly nutritious foods. This is because each person must first find peace with the comfort foods that may fall outside of the “healthy” definition. Again, this is not about eating only perfectly healthy foods all the time. It is about eating healthy foods most of the time.
Reconnecting with ones Intuitive Eater is not an overnight process. None of us become this disconnected overnight; therefore, it’s impossible to fix it overnight. This is the only real lifestyle change. Everything else that claims to be about creating a lifestyle change simply isn’t. A real lifestyle change cannot come with food “do’s” and “don’ts.” It cannot include a list of food that one “absolutely cannot have because it will make you fat.” Food, in and of itself, is not what “makes” us fat. The very act of “watching what you eat” DOES make us fat.
Counting, measuring, weighing and everything else that goes along with dieting disconnects us – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – from our body and inner self. The only way to fix the problem is to reconnect all the pieces. We must heal emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in order for our body to be able to heal physically, which includes balancing weight.
If you’d like more information about Intuitive Eating, visit Angie’s website, Break All the Dieting Rules.
Written by Angela Taylor, Doctor of Natural Health