We’ve all heard the term “follow your intuition”. Growing up, my mom used to always tell me to trust my gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Maybe you’ve been told something similar. But did you know that your intuition can also guide your eating habits? Story time: I used to follow the “If It Fits Your Macros” approach to my diet (if you aren’t sure what this is, check out this post). This way of eating is a great way to learn how much food your body needs and how to portion out serving sizes. However, it isn’t sustainable in the long run (in my opinion anyway). Who wants to live the rest of their lives entering food into My Fitness Pal? And counting every macro they consume? In order to live life to its fullest, we need to learn to how to eat healthy without trying (most of the time, but not all of the time). We need to listen to our bodies and intuitively know what it needs. That’s where Intuitive Eating comes in!
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an approach to your nutrition where you become more attuned to your body’s hunger signals. It is defined as a way to make food choices without any guilt. Studies of intuitive eating have found that “intuitive eaters” see a decrease in weight and a decrease in the “thin idealization”. However, they also experience an increase in wellbeing and self-esteem. It’s a win-win!
Principles of Intuitive Eating
Ready to make the transition into Intuitive Eating? Here are some of its main principles.
1. Say No To Diets
No more diet cookbooks. No more magazines that say “lose weight quickly!” and other nonsense. Reject the diet culture that society imposes on us.
2. Listen to Your Hunger
Trust your hunger cues. Keep your body fed with energy and nutrients. When you don’t listen to your hunger cues (i.e. while “dieting” and trying to eat less), you can actually trigger yourself to overeat.
3. Calling a Truce With Food
Food isn’t the enemy! Make peace with it. Give yourself permission to eat as you please. Don’t tell yourself that you’re “not allowed” to eat a particular food. Do you what happens when we deprive ourselves? We tend to overindulge. Avoid this by making sure no food is off limits.
4. Know When You Are Full
Learn to know when your stomach is full. It’s as simple as that. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
5. Change the Way You Exercise
Choose modalities of exercise that you enjoy and make you feel good. Focus on energizing your body and making it strong.
6. Feel Good Food
The things you eat should taste good and make you feel good. Be gentle with yourself. One “unhealthy” snack or meal isn’t going to ruin your health.
Some days your body is craving salad, fruit, and greens. Other days, all you want is chocolate, pizza, and french fries. This is OKAY! Life is all about balance. If you want a salad, eat it! If you want a slice of pizza (or two), eat that! As long as you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, you’ll be a-okay.
Even though it isn’t technically a part of the “Intuitive Eating” way of life, I try to follow the 80%/20% rule. This means that 80% of the time I enjoy nutritious foods such as lean protein, fruit, and veggies. The other 20%, I eat whatever I please. Whether it be an ice cream cone, pizza, or chocolate, no food is off limits.
Food is not the enemy – it’s our friend. It’s time we start treating it like one!
Written by GUADS staff member Angelina with contributions from benourished.org and intuitiveeating.org.