Intuitive eating is an approach to food and nutrition that focuses on building positive relationships with food and good habits to help you take care of your body. It’s about listening to your body’s cues for hunger, fullness, and satisfaction instead of listening to external messages like “I should eat this” or “I can’t have this.” It’s a less stressful approach to eating and can change how you think about food. Let’s look at the benefits of intuitive eating.
You Get in Tune with Your Body
We get into trouble when we don’t listen to our body and when we punish it with overly restricted diets. Intuitive eating encourages a shift away from outside influences and instead listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
By practicing intuitive eating, you can become more attuned to your body’s needs and learn to make choices that support your physical and emotional well-being. This can help you develop a healthier relationship with food and your body and lead to improved physical and mental health. What you eat affects your physiology and your mood! So, it influences all aspects of life.
Intuitive eating can also help you let go of diet culture and the constant focus on weight and body size, and instead shift your energy toward developing a positive body image and becoming physically and emotionally healthy. It helps you break free from the cycle of yo-yo dieting and the guilt and shame often associated with falling off a diet.
Intuitive Eating Is a Healthier Approach to Weight Control
Intuitive eating means listening to what your body needs and wants instead of trying to control yourself through strict diet rules or excessive exercise regimens. It means finding a balance between what tastes good and what enhances your health. With intuitive eating, you don’t stress yourself out by counting calories or limiting your food intake. Instead, you would focus on listening to your hunger signals, so you know when you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough food. It’s a mindful approach to weight control.
Intuitive eating can also help you let go of diet culture and the constant obsession with weight and body size, and instead focus on developing a positive body image and becoming physically and emotionally healthy. It helps you break free from the cycle of yo-yo dieting and the guilt and shame often associated with falling off a diet.
It Alleviates Food Guilt
Food guilt is an unhealthy emotion that many people struggle with. It’s caused by dieting and the attitude that food is a “bad” thing and that you should feel guilty about eating it. When you think of your food as an enemy, it’s easy for feelings of guilt to develop around eating it. If you’ve ever been on a diet and “cheated” on it, you’re familiar with this type of guilt.
Guilt can be a difficult emotion to live with, especially when it comes to something so simple as eating a piece of cake or a bag of chips. The guilt can be overwhelming when people have told you your whole life that certain foods are bad for you. Such misplaced comments can lead to problems, including eating disorders and binge eating disorders, and serious physical and mental health issues.
With intuitive eating, foods aren’t “good” or “bad.” They’re just food. This way of looking at eating removes the pressure of restricting food intake or otherwise causing harm to your body through dieting. Instead, it focuses on being present and mindful of your food choices.
Intuitive Eating Is About Restoring Balance
Intuitive eating helps you live a more balanced life. This is the biggest benefit of intuitive eating. You learn to trust yourself, and this will positively affect all aspects of your life, including how you eat and your lifestyle. If you don’t feel like eating breakfast one day, that’s okay! If you want a snack mid-morning instead of lunch because it sounds more appealing at the time, go for it.
Once you begin to trust yourself and believe in your ability to make good decisions about food and health, you can apply this sense of autonomy to other areas: career choices, relationships with significant others and family members; etc.
You’ll Enjoy Food More
When you eat intuitively, there’s no restriction. You have permission to eat whatever sounds good at any given moment. This makes eating more enjoyable.
Intuitive eating can help you feel more satisfied with your food choices and derive more pleasure from them. Here are other benefits:
- Reduced likelihood of unhealthy weight loss behaviors such as skipping meals or taking diet pills
- More satisfaction with meals leads to better nutrition
- A positive body image
The idea is that if you can learn to trust your body’s signals regarding hunger, you can make better choices when it comes time to eat and enjoy your food choices more.
How to Get Started with Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a framework for making peace with food and your body. Anyone who struggles with restrictive diets, bingeing, body dissatisfaction, and emotional eating can benefit from this approach. Here are some tips:
- Honor your hunger: Make sure to eat enough to feel satisfied and nourished, without restricting food intake or allowing yourself to become overly hungry.
- Respect your fullness: Pay attention to your body’s signals of fullness and satisfaction, and stop eating when you feel satisfied, rather than stuffed.
- Stop dieting, avoiding certain foods, or engaging in any other self-sabotaging behaviors around food for at least 30 days to see if it works for you.
- Stop seeing food as the enemy. It’s not.
- Practice mindfulness when you eat. Be more aware of the taste, textures, and aromas of what you eat. Engage with the food on your plate and savor.
- Make peace with food: Don’t label any food as “good” or “bad,” and allow yourself to enjoy all types of foods in moderation.
- Discover the satisfaction factor: Find pleasure and enjoyment in the foods you eat, rather than using food to cope with negative emotions.
- Respect your body: Accept and appreciate your body as it is, and focus on becoming physically and emotionally healthy, rather than trying to achieve a certain body shape or size.
- Trust your body: Trust that your body knows what it needs and can regulate its own weight, rather than trying to control your weight through dieting or other unhealthy methods.
If you’re ready to give this innovative approach a try, remember, it’s not about perfection. Intuitive eating is an ongoing process that takes time and patience, but it will be worth it in the end, The greatest benefit is that you’ll finally have peace and trust around food — you’ll never feel like you’re falling off the wagon again.
- “Intuitive Eating: How To Get Rid of the Rules and Enjoy Food.” 13 Jan. 2022, .uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2022/01/intuitive-eating-how-to-get-rid-of-the-rules-and-enjoy-food.
- “Intuitive Eating for a Healthy Relationship with Food.” hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/intuitive-eating-for-a-healthy-relationship-with-food/.
- “A Quick Guide to Intuitive Eating – Healthline.” 25 Jun. 2019, .healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating.
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