How can something that says there are no rules with eating be healthy? Intuitive eating is such a foreign concept, I totally realize that. Where healthy is dictated by rules and discipline in our culture, intuitive eating teaches freedom around food. Today I want to share with you the WHY of intuitive eating. Why intuitive eating really works…and how it’s changed my life and could change yours as well!
There’s a lot of talk surfacing lately about intuitive eating. What is intuitive eating? How do I master intuitive eating? How long does intuitive eating take?
So what’s all the hype with intuitive eating?
I’ll be frank with you…some people bash intuitive eating right away because they have in their minds that intuitive eating is all about weight loss. So let’s get one thing straight. Intuitive eating is not all about weight loss. Intuitive eating is all about HEALTH.
As a nurse, I was trained in promoting health of the body, mind, and spirit. My job is to promote overall wellness of people, and the fact is, dieting does not promote whole body health. Dieting leads to both psychological and biological damage to your body including:
- increased fat retention due to the uncertainty of caloric needs during restricting and dieting
- cardiac damage due to the stress of not eating enough for daily functions
- decreased metabolic rate during restriction
- weight gain with each diet
- inconsistent physical activity
- higher chance of developing an eating disorder
- distrust with your body and with food
- guilt around eating
- unhappiness with body
- poorer social life
I hope this list will begin to show you that dieting and restricting is not cohesive with a joyful life.
So how does intuitive eating really work?
Intuitive eating is all about re-learning how to listen to your body. You’re tuning in to your body’s natural cues for what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, as well as when to stop eating. Imagine this…you get home from a stressful day at work, walk to your fridge after pouring yourself a standard glass of wine, and begin to throw together a dinner for you and your significant other. While preparing dinner, you feel your hunger begin to surface, the subtle (or maybe not so subtle) emptiness in your middle, maybe a little growl. You snack on some cheese and crackers while preparing dinner, noting how your hunger is temporarily subsiding while you wait for dinner to finish, but don’t feel the need to eat a meals-worth of crackers. Then you sit down to a table nicely set and again notice that you’re still not quite satisfied, but not ravenous, and ready to enjoy the meal. With each bite you notice how the food tastes, not cramming everything in your mouth haphazardly. Three-quarters of the way done with what’s on your plate, you notice that your hunger feelings are gone, you feel satisfied. You slide your plate away and then end dinner with a cup of tea and a few spoonfuls of ice cream from the container to fully satisfy your end of dinner sweet tooth, without guilt or shame.
Why does eating this way work, then?
First off, eating intuitively takes the guilt away from all foods. There are no good foods or bad foods. Research shows that people who are restricted from eating certain foods crave those foods even more! By taking away the black and white labels from food, you’ll find that there’s less pressure to eat your “forbidden foods”. You may even find that you don’t enjoy them as much as you thought you did when they were off limits! And in the same sense, eating healthy foods aren’t labeled as “diet foods”. Who likes eating diet food? When all foods are leveled out, there is clarity for what you actually physically crave, whether that’s a big, veggie-stocked salad, or a piece of cake.
Second, eating intuitively teaches how to listen to your body’s signals telling you when to eat to feel your best energy-wise. You’re not told to only 3 meals a day or 3 meals and 2 snacks. Instead, if you’re hungry, you eat to respond to that hunger. This benefits your body through a stable energy supply, let’s what you do be dictated by your inner cues (hunger) instead of external cues (time since your last meal or time of day). In addition to learning to respond to hunger, tuning into your intuitive senses around food helps you decide when to stop. The guiding factor of intuitive eating is all about getting the most enjoyment out of eating. If you’ve ever over-eaten, you know that it’s not a pleasant feeling. By learning to respond to your hunger, even if your plate still has food on it, you’re treating your body well and eating the right amount of food for you.
And lastly, intuitive eating is life-long and lasting. There’s no “on the diet, off the diet” behavior, therefore how you eat is stable and consistent. Consistency both in eating nutritious foods and enjoying indulgences when the time arises, is important not only for physical health, but also for mental well being.
So how has intuitive eating personally changed my life?
Well, I’ll tell you, I was probably very similar to you a few years back. I counted calories in my head, justified dessert with extra time at the gym, and beat myself up for giving in to the donuts at our local coffee shop. But what I’ve discovered through reprogramming everything in my head that I thought was being healthy was that in reality, my restrictive actions towards what I ate was far from healthy and well. But now, through re-learning how to eat intuitively, the way my body tells me to eat, I feel my healthiest self!
satisfied not just by food, but with life!
in control, but not controlled by food!
clear of thoughts!
and so much more.
I hope you’ll join me in your own intuitive eating journey. And if you’re ready to learn more of what it looks like to listen to your body for how to be healthy, I’d love for you to join me in the upcoming “How to Eat 101 Course”! This is a free course offered to you each month to help you re-learn how to eat intuitively. Click here to find out more.
So, all in all, intuitive eating works in that it creates a positive relationship with food that is conducive to lasting health and wellness for life.
Let’s Connect! What questions do you have around intuitive eating?
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating. Macmillan.