What is intuitive eating (+ how it can help you improve your relationship with food)
Don’t eat refined carbs. Don’t eat processed foods. Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants. Eat fruits and vegetables that have plenty of fibre.
For the longest time ever, we’ve been bombarded with an endless list of “Do’s” and “Dont’s” when it comes to eating. But there’s a new philosophy of eating that revolves around the idea that there are no rules when it comes to eating, and that you should just eat whatever you want to. Introducing… intuitive eating!
What is intuitive eating?
Simply put, intuitive eating is an “anti-diet” approach to eating.
With intuitive eating, the idea is to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Intuitive eaters trust their bodies and intuition, and allow themselves to consume whatever they want to without feeling guilty.
How can intuitive eating possibly work?
Now, you might be wondering… how can intuitive eating possibly work? Won’t everyone simply indulge in unhealthy foods all the time, if given the choice to?
The answer is - not necessarily. As advocates of intuitive eating point out, if you let yourself eat as many french fries as you want, the law of diminishing marginal returns will eventually set in, and you’ll find yourself wanting to eat other foods instead.
The theory is that the more we try to restrict ourselves from certain foods, the more we crave those foods. But if you can have fries (or whatever your favourite food is) as often as you want, you won’t feel the urge to seek it out at every turn.
The 10 principles of intuitive eating
Want to get started with intuitive eating? Here are 10 principles to internalise and use to guide your choices around food:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality.
2. Honour Your Hunger.
3. Make Peace with Food.
4. Challenge the Food Police.
5. Feel Your Fullness.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7. Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food.
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise – Feel The Difference.
10. Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition.
Principle #1: Reject the diet mentality
Silence the voice in your head that says that you need to be on a diet in order to be healthy. Trust yourself to make the right decisions for your body, instead of following an arbitrary set of rules that may or may not work for you.
Principle #2: Honour your hunger
Recognise that hunger is a normal, biological process, and that you need to have a healthy relationship with your hunger. Eat when you’re hungry, instead of trying to ignore your hunger.
Principle #3: Make peace with your food
Stop labelling foods as “good” or “bad”, and allow yourself to eat what you want to without feeling bad.
Principle #4: Challenge the food police
Stop associating your self-worth with what you eat. If you have a salad, this doesn’t mean that you’re “good”; if you have a cupcake, this doesn’t mean that you’re “bad”.
Principle #5: Feel your fullness
Check in with yourself and learn to identify signals that tell you that you’re full or satiated. Know that it’s completely fine to stop eating when you’re full, even if you’re halfway through a meal.
Principle #6: Discover the satisfaction factor
When you eat, don’t just aim to eat till you’re full - you also want to be satisfied. If your meal doesn’t satisfy you, chances are that you’ll keep eating, even though you’re physically full.
Principle #7: Cope with your emotions without using food
It’s common for people to eat when they’re stressed, lonely, bored… the list goes on. Instead of eating to cover up your emotions, learn different coping mechanisms so that you don’t have to turn to food.
Principle #8: Respect your body
Don’t be overly-critical of your body - accept yourself for who you are, instead of chasing after hard-to-obtain ideals.
Principle #9: Exercise
Exercise in order to feel good, not in order to lose weight. Find a form of exercise that you truly enjoy doing, and stick with it.
Principle #10: Honour your health with gentle nutrition
Consider how different foods make you feel. Seek out foods that energise you and make you feel good about yourself, over foods that are momentarily satisfying but negatively impact the way you and your body feels.