Over the past year or so, I have been quite committed to learning and living the principles of intuitive eating, which has made a huge difference for me.
Has it had an impact on my weight?
A little bit, but more in the sense that I am no longer stressing out about food. I am no longer controlling my food in any way, shape or form. I am enjoying food way more and I feel better about my body. I’m physically healthier than I’ve been for a long time, and I really attribute all of this to the principles of intuitive eating.
There are a lot of misconceptions about eating intuitively, which I want to address today while also explaining how intuitive eating has positively affected my own life and health struggle. In the book “Intuitive Eating”, ten principles of the concept are outlined and I’m going to share those ten principles here to help clarify exactly what it entails.
So what exactly is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating represents a holistic, non-diet approach to food and body. It aims to mend your relationship with both, emphasizing trust and heightened awareness of your body’s innate wisdom.
While it incorporates elements of both eating intuitively and eating mindfully, it really goes beyond these concepts. Intuitive eating encompasses mindful eating’s focus on being present during meals while also paying attention to internal hunger and fullness cues. However, it adds a therapeutic dimension, addressing emotional aspects and broader habits to foster a healthier overall connection with food and your body.
Intuitive eating is by no means a quick-fix weight loss solution. In fact, it actively encourages you to distance yourself from diet culture. You absolutely cannot heal your relationship with food, change the way that you’re eating, heal your emotional or binge eating disorders if you are also actively trying to shrink your body or lose weight at the same time– it is impossible.
Having said this, intuitive eating is not “anti weight loss” either. The primary focus lies in nurturing your body in a gentle, respectful way that allows it to find its natural equilibrium. Your body’s set point, the weight at which it naturally settles, is not something you can control, but it tends to emerge when you treat your body kindly and nourish it appropriately.
Intuitive eating should, however, not be confused with a “free-for-all” approach to eating. It’s not about consuming whatever, whenever. Instead, it guides you towards balanced, self-nurturing choices that enhance your relationship with food. It’s not a “f*ck it diet” where you have a free pass to eat uncontrollably. Instead, intuitive eating equips you with strategies to care for your overall well-being, addressing not only physical nourishment, but also emotional needs.
Through embracing the concepts of intuitive eating, these are just some of the positive results I have experienced:
- Food Freedom: I can now keep once “off-limits” foods at home without binge worries and no food triggers emotional turmoil.
- Enjoyable Exercise: I’ve become consistent with exercise by ditching rigid expectations and now genuinely enjoy it.
- Freedom from Food Obsession: I no longer obsessively think about food throughout the day, whether it’s what I just ate or what I’ll eat next.
- Guilt-Free Enjoyment: I can savor favorite foods without guilt, shame, or judgment, eliminating inner drama.
- Reduced Food Cravings: With fewer food cravings, I naturally eat my favorite foods less often and relish them without guilt or shame.
- Balanced Nourishment: I eat more consistently satisfying meals, nourishing my body.
- Emotional Healing: Addressing emotional aspects alongside intuitive eating has stopped me from using food to numb emotions.
- Social Freedom: Food-related social situations no longer stress me out; I can enjoy them without overthinking.
- More Life Focus: Healing around food has allowed me to redirect my energy towards important aspects of my life, like health, relationships, and hobbies, providing emotional and physical vitality.
So if you are looking for a healthier, more balanced relationship with food and your body, intuitive eating can offer a refreshing escape from the world of restrictive diets and calorie counting. To unlock the incredible potential of intuitive eating, let’s explore the ten core principles of this approach, as outlined in Evelyn Tribole’s book “Intuitive Eating”:
- Reject the Diet Mentality: Start by recognizing the negative influence of diet culture in your life. Understand that diets often lead to unhealthy cycles of restriction and overindulgence. Instead, focus on a sustainable, balanced approach to eating that doesn’t involve strict rules or unrealistic expectations. Take the time to define what health means to you personally. It’s not about adhering to someone else’s standards or ideals. Consider what makes you feel your best, physically and mentally, and set your own health goals accordingly.
- Honor Your Hunger: Begin by learning to differentiate between physical hunger and other types of cravings. Listen to your body’s signals when it genuinely needs nourishment. This involves understanding the physical sensations of hunger and giving yourself permission to eat when you experience them.
- Make Peace with Food: Let go of the concept of “good” or “bad” foods. Abandon the idea of forbidden foods or strict food rules. Grant yourself the freedom to enjoy a wide variety of foods without judgment, guilt, or shame.
- Challenge the Food Police: Recognize the internal voices that enforce diet rules and criticize your food choices. These voices often echo societal pressures and unrealistic standards. Work on transforming these critical thoughts into more supportive and balanced ones.
- Discover Food Satisfaction: Rediscover the pleasure in eating. After years of dieting, many people lose touch with the joy of food. Understand that enjoying your meals is an essential part of feeling satisfied and nourished. Additionally, seek pleasure in other areas of life beyond food to reduce dependence on it for emotional gratification.
- Feel Your Fullness: Learn to distinguish between physical fullness and emotional or satisfaction fullness. It’s not just about stopping when you’re full but also recognizing when you’ve had enough to truly satisfy your hunger.
- Cope with Emotions with Kindness: Understand the relationship between emotions and eating. Instead of using food as a coping mechanism, explore healthier ways to deal with emotions, such as talking to a friend, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in self-care activities.
- Respect Your Body: Shift your mindset from seeking to love or appreciate your body to simply respecting it. Show your body respect by making choices that prioritize nourishment and well-being rather than punishment or deprivation.
- Embrace Joyful Movement: Move away from rigid exercise routines driven by weight loss goals. Instead, find physical activities that genuinely bring you joy and make you feel good. This could be anything from dancing to hiking to practicing yoga.
- Gentle Nutrition: Finally, when you’ve established a healthy relationship with food and your body, consider the nutritional aspect. Focus on nourishing your body with foods that support your health goals, all while maintaining flexibility and balance in your eating choices. This step ensures that nutrition complements your overall well-being rather than becoming a restrictive set of rules
What makes intuitive eating so very special is that really involves nourishing yourself from heal to toe, and enables your body and mind to find the peace around food that we are all looking for.
If you need help practically working with these principles to transform your health, I have three coaching programs on the go right now: Nourishment Lounge, Thrive Beyond Size, and Binge Free Breakthrough Program. They all focus on different aspects of health at every size but they are all rooted in intuitive eating. We focus on honoring your internal hunger and fullness cues instead of counting points or calories or using whatever other system is available. If you want to talk more about it or any of my coaching programs, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org –I’m always happy to answer your questions!