Intuitive eating makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals.
Essentially, it is the opposite of a traditional diet.
There are no guidelines about what or when to eat, or what to avoid.
Instead, it teaches that you are the best person — the only person — to make those choices.
The idea is that you should eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.
Although this should be an intuitive process, for many people it's not.
When you think about babies and toddlers, they know exactly when they need to eat. They will let you know by crying and demanding food. In the same manner, they know when they are full and had enough and will not be forced to eat past their need for food.
It is only when they grow older that parents demand to “eat what’s on the plate” or bribe them with dessert when they finish their plate.
In fact, what parents do is asking them to ignore their body’s signals that they are full and don’t need any more food and to eat more… and then they reward them with even more food by giving them dessert.
Yet, we are all born with the natural instinct to eat when we’re hungry and to stop eating when we’re full. We are growing up ignoring the natural hunger and fulness cues. And as we grow up and get older, we eat more than our body needs. The extra energy, if we don’t burn it off, will be stored “for later use”. However, most of time the extra energy that is stored in our bodies won’t be used and so we get bigger and put on weight.
We are trying to lose the extra weight looking at the latest diet trends and so-called experts telling us what, when and how to eat. However, this leads even further away from trusting our body and listening to our hunger and fullness signals.
To eat intuitively, you may need to relearn how to trust your body. And to do that, you need to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
Physical hunger is the natural urge to feed your body with nutrients. Hunger builds gradually and has various signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue or irritability. Physical hunger is satisfied when you eat food.
Emotional Hunger is driven by emotional needs such as sadness, loneliness or boredom. Some of these feelings can create cravings for certain foods. Often, when we are emotionally hungry, we are looking for “comfort foods”.
Satisfying our emotional hunger – or needs – does then cause us to feel guilty. It is at that point when we are feeling guilty because we ate “comfort food” the vicious cycle of emotional eating gains momentum.
We have an emotional need
We eat comfort food to “take care of ourselves” or to make us feel better
We feel guilty and depressed because we ate
We – again – eat to make us feel better and so forth …………..
Unless we actually stop and address the need we have and try to find a solution other than filling the need with food and eating, the emotional eating cycle won’t be broken.
We put on weight and are looking for a solution by going on a diet. Only, a while into the diet, we feel deprived of all the foods we actually love to eat and are not allowed to have. So, we eventually give in to our cravings – actually our brain – and brake the diet. When then ends in us feeling guilty again leading to emotional eating.
You see, this is basically the reason why diets don’t work long-term. They deprive us from all the food we love to eat and aren’t allowed to have.
Our brain is very clever and knows this and eventually wins 😊 we give in and up.
Maybe give it some thought.
How many times have you tried to lose weight with a new diet ?
Has it ever worked ? I mean long-term ?
Would it not be awesome if you could actually eat whatever you want, without feeling guilty ?
Would you like to be in charge of what you eat ?
Here are the key principles of intuitive eating :
You might want to give it a try – especially when you know that this is actually our natural way to eat – the instinct to feed our body when we are hungry – nothing more – nothing less. All you have to do is re-learn how to do it.
Let go of the Diet Mentality
The diet mentality is the idea that there's a diet out there somewhere that will work for you. Intuitive eating is the anti-diet.
Listen to your Hunger and Fullness Signals
Hunger is not your enemy. Start eating at your early signs of hunger. Don’t let yourself get too hungry because that could lead to overeating.
Make Peace with Food
There are no good or bad foods. You can eat whatever you want and don’t judge yourself if your choice is not the most nutritious. You might feast for a while on foods that are not so nutritious – but you will eventually make nutritious choices because your body needs it.
Food is not good or bad and you are not good or bad for what you eat or don't eat.
Respect Your Fullness
Just as your body tells you when it is hungry, it also tells you when it is full.
Listen for the signals of comfortable fullness, when you feel you've had enough. As you're eating, check in with yourself to see how the food is tasting and how hungry or full you are feeling.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Make your eating experience enjoyable. Have a meal that tastes good to you. Sit down to eat it.
When you make eating a pleasurable experience, you might find it takes less food to satisfy you.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
Emotional eating is a strategy for coping with feelings.
Find other ways that are not related to food to deal with your feelings: take a walk, meditate, journal, call a friend.
Become aware of the times when a feeling that you might call hunger is actually based on emotion.
By Physically Active – It makes you feel good
Find ways to move your body that you enjoy. Don’t use exercise to punish yourself for eating or to give yourself permission to eat. Rather than focusing on exercising for weight loss, do it because it makes you feel energised, strong and good.
Feed your Body with Goodness
Your goal should be to feel better when you finished eating than you did before you started.
How to Get Started
If you think you could benefit from learning more about intuitive eating, contact me for more information on how to get started.