Intuitive Eating: A quick guide…
By Haneen Ahmad
Say hello to the healthiest way of eating
Who doesn’t want to feel great about what they eat and what they see in the mirror. Intuitive eating helps facilitate just that. It promotes a healthy attitude towards food and a positive body image.
Mindful eating supports intuitive eating. It can be so impactful for not only your body health but also your body image and self-confidence. The Center for Mindful Eating defines mindful eating as “allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom” and “using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.”
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your eating habits will help you develop a healthier relationship with food. Part of this process is learning and relearning how to trust your body.
It’s not just about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It’s about tuning in. Your body sends signals that it is hungry. But there’s another kind of hunger, one driven by emotions. Knowing the difference between the two and what to do about it is key.
Taking care of yourself and lifestyle changes are the best investment for your long term health. This doesn’t mean diets or restrictions it means using mindfulness along with the guiding principles below to intuitively listen to what your body needs.
Intuitive Eating Guiding Principles:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Get rid of fad diets that leave you feeling unfulfilled and disappointed. How many times have you heard, “sure that diet works but you gain it all back after you stop the diet.” No one really wants to live like that. How pleasant would it be to a healthy non-restrictive relationship with food?
2. Honor Your Hunger
This isn’t just about eating when you are hungry and not starving yourself. It’s also about eating a balanced variety that satisfies that hunger; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber rich foods, etc. Yes proteins are like the building blocks for our system but our bodies need more than just a high protein diet to function well.
3. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat, guilt-free, shame-free. Choose foods that make you feel whole and healthy and have compassion for yourself around food choices.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Just say hell no to the food police, you’re not welcome food popo.
5. Respect Your Fullness
Check-in with yourself mid-meal. How are you feeling in terms of fullness level? Listen to your body when it lets you know you are no longer hungry.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Pay attention to your desires and satisfactions. “When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough” ”.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
Anxious? Bored? Angry? Reaching for the cookie jar? There are lots of non-food coping skills to tap into to resolve these feelings. Get yourself used to finding other ways to comfort and confront these feelings rather than eating. Meditation, journaling, exercise, talking to a friend etc.
8. Respect Your Body
We all have a genetic blueprint to take into account. The sooner you can accept this and respect the body you were given the easier journey you will have with intuitive eating. You deserve to love the body you live in and your body deserves your love and respect.
9. Exercise—Feel the Difference
I am not talking wake up at 5 am every day and make sure you get cardio and weightlifting in. I am talking about moving your body in ways that feel good to you and doing so consistently. Then shift your focus to how you feel when you regularly exercise… Energized? Happy? Motivated? I bet so!
10. Honor Your Health
What matters most is your habits over time. What you consistently eat or don’t eat. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be progress. Start small and significant. Make food choices that honor your health and cravings but also leaving feeling good.
Getting started can be the most difficult part. Here are some tips to help you out:
-Work with a nutritionist who practices/teaches intuitive eating
-Tune in and pay attention to how hungry you are, eat when you are hungry (don’t wait until you are starving)
-Be mindful of when you are full (honor that and don’t eat to the point you are feeling stuffed)
-Get an accountability partner! (a friend, therapist, family member etc)
-Unplug while you are eating, this means no TV, phones etc that way you are mindfully present and aware of what’s going on with your internal cues of hunger and fullness
Intuitive eating is not a tool for weight loss or gain. Nor is it an eat whatever you want when you want. By using the 10 guiding principles above you will promote a healthy relationship with food and boost your self-confidence and body image.