When I quote the term ‘dieting’ the obvious picture that gets painted in one’s mind is weighing thier food, counting calories, fretting about their weight and 100 other tantrums. But what if you get a chance to opt a diet where you are free to decide what you wanna eat? Well that’s the idea behind “Intuitive eating,” a revolutionary concept for many. The philosophy of intuitive eating promotes listening to your body’s own cues to decide what, when and how much to eat, ditching the traditional diet culture. This new approach is the talk of the town right now — as says The Atlantic — “the latest diet trend is not dieting.”
The concept of Intuitive eating was developed by two California based nutritionist, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. The central premise of intuitive eating program is that people’s bodies possess innate biological wisdom that already knows what foods and eating habits are best for them. It is a weight inclusive, evidence based model with validated assessment scale and over 100 studies to date.
Intuitive eating honours both physical and mental health. The main focus is about relearning to eat outside of the diet mentality, putting focus on your intuitions, like hunger, fullness, satisfaction etc. Moving away from external cues like diet rules and restrictions.
There are over 100 research studies conducted around the concept of intuitive eating. To quote a really simple example, think about a new born baby. They have innate balance to their food needs. Babies cry, they eat, then they stop until they are hungry again. As we grow old we lose our inner intuitive eater. We make rules around food. For instance, we treat dessert as a reward, and usually a kid is deprived of it if he or she misbehaves.
The 10 famous principles of intuitive eating restores body’s inner intuitive eater and reestablish a healthier relationship with food.
1. Reject Diet Mentality
Throw away all your diet books and magazines. Accept the fact that diet are futile. Get angry at diet culture that promotes weight loss. Resolve to eat intuitively — to trust your body to tell you when, how much and what to eat.
2. Honour your Hunger
Unlike most diet plans that force you to ignore a growling stomach, intuitive eating is all about rebuilding faith in your body’s hints and cues. Know when you are physically hungry, and not just bored or depressed (emotionally hungry). A little tip that nutritionist provide is to jot down your level of hunger before having each meal. This way you will get tuned to your body’s natural system.
3. Make peace with food
Dump the notion of good food and bad food. Call truce with food. Often the food that we list as bad food, generates unconditional craving for it and ultimately results in binge eating. Whereas eating should be a life enhancing expirence and intuitive eating promotes that.
4. Challenge the food police
The food police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its blaring loudspeakers shout negative barbs, hopeless phrases and guilt provoking indictments. Chasing the food police away is a crucial step in returning to intuitive eating.
5. Discover the satisfaction factor
In the pursuit of only eating what you ‘should’ eat, we often forego other pleasurable elements of eating. Work your way around food. Eat things you desire to eat, that tastes good to you.
Take out time to set the table with fancy china. Turn off all distractions. Make eating a special occasion and you will notice that the pleasure you will derive from each meal will become a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. You’ll realise that this pleasurable experience will trigger the feeling of having had ‘enough’ by just eating the right amount of food or even less.
6. Respect your Fullness
The flip side of honouring your hunger is to respect when you are full. Take a break in between your meal and feel the way your food tastes. Take a moment to appreciate that good taste and note how hungry or full you are feeling. Listen for the signs of comfortable fullness and STOP, even if it means leaving dessert.
7. Cope with your feelings without using food
Every human being faces all kinds of emotions in his or her life. We all get bored, sad, anxious, angry etc. But food is not the answer to these feelings. It is just you using the food to distract yourself from all of these feelings. And that might even work for you, food might comfortable you. But remember that’s just a temporary fix to a permanent problem. You’ll later have to deal with those feelings and provide real solutions. Thats why it is necessary to find healthy alternative to cope up with these emotions — like going on a walk or trying to eradicate the reasons that are causing these nagative feelings.
8. Respect your Body
Every individual is unique and has his/her’s own genetic blueprint. Nobody on earth is exactly like you and no body on earth is exactly like yours. We all are not the same shape and size. So we need to let go of unrealistic expectations of body image. Stop abusing your body with diets, tight clothes, militant excercise and other self punishment.
9. Exercise and feel the difference
Indulge your body in activities you enjoy performing. Be it walking, gardening, biking or any sport. You don’t need to sweat buckets at gym doing tidious workout regimen. Your ultimate goal should be to feel energized or alive or strong. Discard the mentality of exercising for burning calories or losing weigh
10. Honour your Health
This last principle might be the trickiest one. But let me break it down to you in really simple words. Eat food that is wholesome and simultaneously satisfy your taste buds. You can add a fruit in your meal that you really like or make a salad of your choice of ingredients. That way its both healthy and tasty. And remember one meal or one day where you don’t eat particularly healthily won’t make a difference in long term — its what happens on most days that matter.