Your Guide To Practicing Intuitive Eating

Your Guide To Practicing Intuitive Eating

When did we lose the joy of eating our favorite meals? With so many diets, food trends, and programs out there, it can put unwanted restrictions on our eating habits that cause more harm than good. And when we take a deeper look at diet culture, there’s a running theme of “denying” ourselves the foods that we enjoy in order to achieve a fixed body goal or physique. However, one framework of eating is encouraging foodies to listen to their body’s hunger cues as opposed to suppressing them.

The term "intuitive eating" was coined by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole, RD, and Elyse Resch, RDN, in the 1990s, who developed and published the concept in the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. In this food guide, they introduced the principles of intuitive eating as an alternative approach to traditional diets and restrictive eating patterns.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch recognized that many individuals were trapped in a cycle of dieting, which often led to disordered eating behaviors and a negative relationship with food and their bodies. In order to correct this cycle, they both created a more compassionate and sustainable approach to nutrition and self-care.

At its core, intuitive eating emphasizes the importance of reconnecting with internal hunger and fullness cues, which in itself challenges the traditional dieting mindset and fosters a positive body and self-image.

When we trust our bodies' innate ability to regulate food intake, we heal our relationship with food and trust our inner voice when it reached a point of satisfaction. Where traditional diet culture tells us to be at the mercy of our food, intuitive eating put the power back in our hands — and body — to say “when” at the right moment.

Those who have adopted this form of eating have found that they’ve been able to listen to their bodies on a deeper level to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re comfortably full. When you eat mindfully, you allow yourself to be present during each meal, savor each bite, and respect your cravings. Although this does take time and practice, you’ll find that over time, you’re giving yourself permission to eat foods you enjoy without the guilt.

While you can approach intuitive eating on your own through mindfulness and naturally listening to your body, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created an outline of 10 principles to guide individuals toward a healthier and more intuitive approach to eating and self-care so you don’t have to go on the journey alone.

  1. Reject the diet mentality: Let go of the dieting mindset and the belief in "good" and "bad" foods and embrace a more balanced and flexible approach to eating.
  2. Honor your hunger: Listen to your body's hunger signals and respond to them by providing nourishment when you feel hungry and give yourself permission to enjoy the foods that delight you.
  3. Make peace with food: Give yourself permission to eat all types of foods without guilt or judgment. Avoid restricting yourself from certain foods, as this can lead to unhealthy relationships with those foods.
  4. Challenge the food police: Challenge and reject the negative thoughts and the inner critic that may arise around food choices. Reframe your thinking about food in a more positive and compassionate way.
  5. Discover the satisfaction factor: Enjoy your food and savor each bite. Pay attention to the tastes and textures, and find pleasure in eating.
  6. Feel your fullness: Tune in to your body's fullness cues and stop eating when you feel comfortably satisfied, rather than overeating or restricting.
  7. Cope with your emotions without using food: Find alternative ways to deal with emotions and stress that don't involve using food as a coping mechanism.
  8. Respect your body: Accept and appreciate your body for its unique shape, size, and abilities. Let go of unrealistic body ideals and focus on self-care and overall well-being.
  9. Exercise: Engage in physical activity that feels enjoyable and energizing rather than punishing yourself with exercise to compensate for eating.
  10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition: Make food choices that support your overall well-being while also being mindful that no single meal or snack determines your health. Aim for balance and variety in your food choices.

Intuitive eating is about establishing a positive relationship with food and your body, as opposed to following a strict, linear diet plan. Trusting your body's signals, preferences, and needs is a journey of self-discovery but when you embrace it with patience and self-compassion you’ll, in turn, ditch the idea of labeling foods as "good" or "bad" and enjoying the balance, nourishment, and that food can offer.

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