“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan
When it comes to nutrition and dieting, there’s no shortage of advice. In fact, the abundance of conflicting rules and restrictions can leave many feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from their own bodies. That’s where intuitive eating comes in, promising a return to our innate wisdom about food and hunger.
Intuitive eating, first introduced by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, isn’t another diet fad. It’s a non-diet, evidence-based approach that promotes a healthy relationship with food and body. It encourages listening to internal cues instead of external rules.
Let’s unpack the ten principles of intuitive eating:
Reject the Diet Mentality
Ditch the cycle of dieting and weight regain. This first step is about saying goodbye to diet culture and its damaging effects. It encourages us to reject diet trends and their false promises.
Honor Your Hunger
Tune into your body’s signals. As Tribole states, “Feeling hunger is not a sign of being good or bad. It’s a biological signal.” Understanding and responding to these signals can prevent overeating and promote trust between you and your body.
Make Peace with Food
Eliminate food guilt. This principle aims to put all foods on an equal footing, removing the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labels we often assign to them.
Challenge the Food Police
Don’t let internalized diet rules control you. Silence the voice that scolds you for eating a slice of cake or praises you for choosing a salad over a sandwich.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Savor your meals. Research in the Journal of Consumer Research has shown that eating slowly and mindfully can lead to greater meal enjoyment and satiety, often with less food.
Feel Your Fullness
Listen to your body’s signals that it’s had enough. This principle fosters an understanding of satiety cues, encouraging you to stop eating when you’re comfortably full.
Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Address emotional eating. Eating can often be a response to stress, boredom, or other emotions. Developing healthier coping mechanisms can lead to a better relationship with food and body.
Respect Your Body
Embrace body diversity. Just like a flower doesn’t compare itself to the flower next to it and just blooms, respecting your body helps in rejecting the societal pressures of achieving a ‘perfect body.’
Movement – Feel the Difference
Reframe your relationship with exercise. Instead of viewing it as a calorie-burning chore, focus on how it makes you feel – energized, strong, and alive.
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Embrace a balanced approach to nutrition. Resch suggests that you “Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good.”
These principles aren’t rigid rules, and there’s no perfection required or attainable. The journey of intuitive eating is personal and non-linear. It’s about fostering self-care, understanding, and kindness towards your body and its nutritional needs. So, let’s embark on this journey and discover a renewed, joyful relationship with food and self.