Today, we're diving into the world of intuitive eating – a refreshing approach to food that prioritizes your body's natural cues and nurtures a healthy relationship with what's on your plate. The most simple explanation of intuitive eating is the way you were born knowing how to eat. In a world that's obsessed with diets and quick fixes, intuitive eating stands out as a beacon of self-compassion and sustainable wellness. So, let's get started on this journey to understanding what intuitive eating is and, just as importantly, what it's not.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Listening to Your Body:
At its core, intuitive eating is all about reconnecting with your body's signals. It encourages you to pay attention to your internal hunger and fullness cues, rather than following external rules or diet plans. Remember that rumbling tummy? That's your body's way of saying it's time for a meal! Think of how babies and toddlers eat. They let their caregiver or parent know when they’re hungry, then they recognize when they’ve had enough to eat and move on. We were born knowing how to feed ourselves and what makes our body feel its best, it is only later that we learn to override our inborn hunger and fullness cues. You can think of intuitive eating as a “reset button” back to your default settings!
No Food Is Off-Limits:
Intuitive eating doesn't label foods as "good" or "bad." It doesn't involve restrictions or depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Instead, it's about enjoying all food with attunement to your body and without guilt. Yes, you can have that slice of cake without feeling ashamed or like you need to compensate for it with exercise later.
Embracing Mindful Eating for Satisfaction:
Mindfulness plays a significant role in intuitive eating. It's about slowing down, savoring your food, eating without distractions, and truly enjoying each bite. By doing so, you can better recognize when you're satisfied, preventing overeating. I often work with clients who tell me that they don’t even know what foods they like any more. Intuitive eating can change that!
This approach promotes kindness and self-compassion. It encourages you to let go of guilt and shame associated with food choices. Food has no moral value– when we assign morality to food, we have a tendency to assign moral judgment to ourselves i.e. believing you are being “bad” for eating certain foods.
Rejecting Diet Culture:
Intuitive eating challenges the toxic diet culture that surrounds us. It urges you to break free from the cycle of dieting and the unrealistic standards it imposes. For more information, check out our blog post on Diet Culture and Why It’s Harmful.
What Intuitive Eating Is NOT:
First and foremost, intuitive eating is not a diet. It doesn't involve counting calories, tracking macros, or following rigid meal plans. It's about tuning into your body, not trying to control it. This is not the hunger/fullness diet.
Weight Loss Focused:
Contrary to dieting trends, intuitive eating doesn't focus on weight loss as the ultimate goal. The reason is that weight loss is not a behavior, it’s a potential outcome. Intuitive eating focuses on making sustainable changes to your lifestyle and mindset that prioritizes overall well-being– physical, mental, and emotional. Your weight may change in the process but it isn’t the primary goal– self-care and attunement to your body are the goals.
About Ignoring Nutrition:
Intuitive eating doesn’t disregard nutrition either. While it encourages you to enjoy all foods, it also emphasizes making choices that nourish your body. Finding the balance of foods that make YOUR body feel good is key. You have autonomy here, to decide the if, when, and how much of any given food makes your body feel its best. But be careful that old food rules/beliefs aren’t influencing your decisions.
A Quick Fix:
Intuitive eating isn't a magic solution that will instantly transform your relationship with food. Especially if you have a long history of dieting, there will be a lot of unlearning you will need to do to develop a healthy relationship with food. It's a process that takes time and patience as you learn to trust your body again.
For Everyone (Right Away):
It's important to understand that intuitive eating may not be suitable for everyone, especially if you have an eating disorder. Intuitive eating is, however, compatible with treatments for many medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and many inflammatory bowel diseases. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your eating habits.
In a world filled with diet fads and unrealistic beauty standards, intuitive eating stands out as a compassionate and sustainable approach to nourishing your body and mind. It's all about fostering a healthier relationship with food, one based on respecting your body, mindfulness, and genuine enjoyment. So, if you're tired of yo-yo dieting it may be time to learn a new way of nourishing your body.
Remember, you're worthy of a life filled with delicious, satisfying, and guilt-free food experiences. Embrace intuitive eating, and let the journey begin!