What is intuitive eating?
If you spend a fair amount of time reading blogs/news outlets focused on health and wellness you have likely heard the terms intuitive eating and mindful eating as their popularity has been on the rise. With this popularity has also come a lot of confusion about what Intuitive Eating really is and if it is beneficial. That’s why I am here to share the basic concepts of Intuitive Eating!!!
We are all born with the ability to eat intuitively.
Have you ever watched a newborn baby? They cry when they are hungry, get the breast or bottle, and then fall asleep when they are done. As babies grow into toddlers (if they are given permission to eat as they need) they will begin to ask for food when hungry, and when they are full the food ends up in the air, on the floor, and all over the clothes. They are connected to their bodies and understand that they are no longer hungry so the food becomes a toy to be played with. Give them time and they will ask for food again.
We all have that friend or family member who has always eaten whatever they wanted and never “struggled” with their weight or seemed to be concerned about food.
These are the lucky individuals who have continued to live their lives the way they were born, with intuitive connection to their body’s hunger and fullness cues and cravings.
So then why are adult intuitive eaters as rare as unicorns?
There are many reasons intuitive eating can go array. Early on, a well meaning parent may limit the types of food that are allowed in the house which can lead to an increased urge to eat these foods when they are available for example at a friends house or at school. Parents may also require “cleaning the plate” where no dessert is served until all of the dinner is eaten which can lead to mistrust of fullness cues. Teachers or class schedules may make it impossible to eat when hungry, and one may begin to lose trust in his/her body’s hunger cues. And then there are the diets: doctor recommended, structured diets, diets from magazines/social media/celebrities, and even DIY versions, all that cause us to lose connection with our innate ability to feed ourselves. Recently, I have seen people lose touch with intuitive eating because of trying to honor their health with cleanses, products, “lifestyles,” that are marketed to make you healthy but are really another diet in disguise. These methods are often dangerously restrictive and don’t encourage connection to our body’s needs.
The good news!
Everyone is able to return to intuitive eating if they are willing to do the work. Intuitive Eating involves working with 10 different principles to eventually make peace with food and your body. The 10 principles are to reject the diet mentality, honor your hunger, make peace with food, challenge the food police, feel your fullness, discover the satisfaction factor, cope with your emotions without using food, respect your body, Exercise – feel the difference and honor your health with gentle nutrition. Intuitive eating has been thoroughly researched and time and time again shows positive health outcomes including but not limited to lower triglycerides, BMI, and emotional eating as well as higher HDL(good cholesterol), self-esteem, and psychological hardiness.
Becoming an intuitive eater is not easy but it is worth it.
If you would like to make this change consider getting support from a registered dietitian who specializes in working with intuitive eating, non-diet approach, and health at every size, and with a therapist who is trained in disordered eating and eating disorders.
Want to work with me? Check out my website and schedule an appointment today!