Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: April 3, 2017 Comments: 0
When you go to the movies, do you find that you always have to have popcorn and other snacks, even though you’re not really hungry? Do you find yourself snacking at parties and in other social settings as a way of keeping busy? Do you tend to eat when you’re stressed out or bored? These are all signs of not eating intuitively.
So what exactly is “intuitive eating”? Intuitive Eating (IE) is an approach that brings you back to eating the way you used to when you were a kid, before dieting and healthy “rules” about eating got involved: eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. Don’t see food as “good” or “bad.” Eat what you want, when you want. The IE approach still stresses good nutrition, however, people are encouraged to not deny themselves. So, if you want ice cream and nothing else will do, you should enjoy a small serving, eat it slowly and savor every bite. The point is to stop telling yourself that you “cannot” or “should not” eat certain foods. While it’s not a magic bullet for weight loss, research shows that intuitive eating is linked with lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and better psychological health.
Sounds simple right? However, for chronic dieters, or those with a history of following rigid “rules” about eating, it can be quite hard to get used to.
So how do you become an “Intuitive Eater”? Intuitive eating takes some practice, but the most important factor is to trust yourself and your body – it will tell you what you need and when you need it.
- Practice mindful eating. Try to slow down when eating, taste and appreciate your food, and stop eating when you’re comfortably full.
- Check in with yourself. Start observing when and why you are eating and pay attention to your hunger level. If you find you’re not really hungry, try to figure out why you’re eating. Boredom? Stress? Habit?
- Ditch dieting. Restrictive diets can create an endless cycle of dieting, bingeing, and guilt. People often find themselves obsessing with what they “cannot” have and labeling foods as “good” or “bad”.
- Eat when you’re hungry, but not too hungry . Why? Because allowing yourself to get too hungry can trigger overeating. Be more mindful of the food that is eaten.
- Make peace. With your food, that is. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Try to avoid labeling a food “good” or “bad.” If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it will undoubtedly lead to feelings of deprivation and bingeing.
- Comfort without food. Find healthy ways to deal with stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, or anger that don’t involve food, such as calling a friend, taking a brisk walk, or a warm bath.
- Accept your body. Try not to be overly critical about your body shape and give up unrealistic expectations.
- Instead of focusing on how many calories you are burning, try to focus on how good it feels to move your body and how the food that you ate is fueling your activity.
Overall, try to remember to take it easy on yourself and don’t beat yourself up for making the “wrong” choice. Try to make the best choices for your health, taste buds and well-being. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. One meal or snack is not going to make or break your weight and health. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and what you eat consistently over time that matters.
References and recommended reading
(1) Camilleri, G. M., Méjean, C., Bellisle, F., Andreeva, V. A., Kesse-Guyot, E., Hercberg, S., & Péneau, S. (2016). Intuitive eating is inversely associated with body weight status in the general population-based NutriNet-Santé study. Obesity, 24(5), 1154-1161. doi:10.1002/oby.21440
(2) Cole, R., & Horacek, T. (2007). Effectiveness of the “My Body Knows When” Intuitive Eating Non-Dieting Weight Management Pilot Program. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(8). doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.05.238
(3) Dyke, N. V., & Drinkwater, E. J. (2013). Review Article Relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public Health Nutrition, 17(08), 1757-1766. doi:10.1017/s1368980013002139
(4) Schlam LC, López-Guimerà G. (2014). Intuitive eating: An emerging approach to eating behavior. Nutr Hosp . 2014;31(3):995-1002. doi:10.3305/nh.2015.31.3.7980.
(5) The Original Intuitive Eating Pros – Creating a Healthy Relationship with Food, Mind & Body. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.intuitiveeating.org/content/what-intuitive-eating
(6) Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin