What if there was a way of healthy eating that had nothing to do with meal plans, diets, or willpower? An anti-diet that lets you honor your cravings and make peace with food? If you’ve ever struggled with the ups and downs of food restriction, there could be a way to ditch the dieting and heal your relationship with food with intuitive eating.
The Basics of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a ten-principle concept originated in the ’90s by Tribole and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN. Dietitians around the world utilize this method to help people make peace with food and make eating enjoyable. The method invokes these ten principles as a way to completely change people’s relationship with food:
- Honor your hunger
- Reject the diet mentality
- Challenge the food police
- Make peace with food
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Honor your feelings without using food
- Honor your health through gentle nutrition
The goal is to use these principles, along with your individual life experiences, to drive the way you eat.
But how can eating whatever you want to be healthy?
We know that the idea of “honoring your cravings” sounds strange if you are trying to slim down, but it goes deeper than that. You see, traditional dieting promotes food restriction to lose weight, and this ridged way of eating isn’t sustainable long-term. Food restriction often leads to yo-yo dieting, and evidence continues to show that weight cycling has negative health consequences.
Intuitive eating is a different approach that focuses on improving your relationship with food -- rather than control it. People who eat this way tend to feel less anxious about making food choices and have lower levels of disordered body image. Crash dieting, on the other hand, severely restricts certain foods, and can lead to an unhealthy pattern of restricting, binging, and repeating.
Because when we label certain foods as “bad” it puts that food up on a pedestal, and you can become obsessed. By permitting yourself to eat whatever food you choose, the “off-limits” food becomes less appealing. People who practice intuitive eating often find they don’t even like the foods they were craving as much as they thought, but rather the excitement of not being able to have it.
What About Nutrition?
It’s difficult to make long-term nutrition choices if you don’t have a healthy relationship with food. By allowing yourself to choose what you want, you can begin to listen to your body and fully appreciate how good you feel when you make healthy food choices.
Over time, you will naturally start to desire a full range of foods and find a balance between nutrient-dense food and fun or play foods. By trusting the cues your body gives, and by releasing the guilt of eating, you can start to intuitively choose foods that respect your health and your taste buds.
What About Weight Loss?
Think you need to quickly lose five pounds? The truth is that diet rollercoasters aren’t sustainable. With intuitive eating, you can change your body, but it might not change in the ways you’ve been conditioned to think it should.
When you listen to your body, you can learn to accept the way it looks when you stop restricting food -- even if that version is a little bigger than you think it should be. Part of this eating philosophy is reexamining your reasons for wanting to lose weight, and redefining what it means to look and feel healthy. While it might not produce quick weight loss, it can help you achieve a healthy weight, and stay in that range for the long-term.
The Bottom Line?
Diet culture is exhausting. A better solution is to find a way of eating that’s healthy and gratifying. How? By allowing your body to relearn the basic satisfaction instincts that your born with.You are in charge and can learn to listen to your body rather than the outside weight loss advice.
Try asking yourself: How does my body feel? What does it feel like to be hungry? What is satisfaction? These aren’t easy questions to answer, but they’re well worth asking. It might take some practice to learn how to listen to your body, but it’s not complicated.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the principles of intuitive eating could be a helpful tool for making peace with food and your body. What do you think? Could you be your best diet guru?