“Intuitive Eating- What Is It?” By Maria Khaled, RD, LD

Intuitive EatingWhat is intuitive eating? In my last blog post I focused on the obesity epidemic and why we are seeing it. What are some ways of combating this epidemic? Let’s take a look at what intuitive eating is and how we can best develop healthy intuitive eating skills. Well, intuitive eating means using your own intuition to know when you are full or content from eating. This may sound simple, but it is not always so easy to do in a society where food images are rampant everywhere.

It is almost like we are conditioned to finish our plates (usually more than what an average portion size should look like- double or triple in some cases), thus contributing to those extra unwanted pounds. We lose sight of the pleasure in the eating experience- savoring every bite, honoring our hunger and understanding our biological cues. Understanding the principles behind Intuitive Eating is important, as well as many other guidelines, and I highly recommend reading a book called Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

It’s very important to keep in mind the words of wisdom many of us learned growing up- “Be a Leader, Not A Follower”- which really applies to every aspect of life. If we are given a huge portion size, feel free to wrap ¼ to half of it to bring home and eat at a later time. This is alright to do and should not be frowned upon. Do not feel obligated to finish every ounce of food on your plate. Also, if one is at a social gathering, do not feel pressured to eat if everyone else is (if you are not truly hungry). You can always drink water or have a light snack, but if your biological hunger cues are not feeling the desire to eat, no need to force it! Listen to your hunger cues. Ignoring them can cause you to put on those unwanted extra pounds and inches that most are trying to avoid.

Some good 10 core principles to Intuitive Eating are:

  1. Reject the Diet Way of Thinking/Mentality– Eating right should be a way of life/ lifestyle, not a lack or diet mentality. Once you change your biological cues to understand your true hunger signs, this will become easier for you. Also, understanding the properties of food and what foods are necessary in the diet, as well as recommended portion sizes, life will become easier in reference to food.
  • Honor Your Hunger– Keep your body fed the adequate amount of nutrients. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust with yourself in relation to food.
  • Make Peace with Food– Stop fighting with food. Give yourself permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into huge cravings. The effect is binging on those “forbidden foods.”
  • Challenge the Negative Thoughts or what some call “The Food Police”- The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The “police” voice is housed deep in your psyche and tells you “No- don’t’ eat that- it’s a bad food.” The more we tell ourselves no, the more we may crave this food down the road. Moderately eating, with knowledge of balance, nutrients, portion size, and understanding one’s hunger cues, can help tremendously with this.
  • Listen to Your Body- Respect when you are full and no longer hungry. Although our bodies cannot talk to us, they can allow us to feel full/satiated. It is up to us to use our intuitive skills to honor this.
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor- Enjoy the pleasure of eating, savoring the flavors and truly enjoying the dining experience. The Japanese have learned to truly enjoy their eating experience, which in turns, can actually allow us to feel fullness without having to overeat. Enjoy the flavors, textures, and overall variety of different types of foods. After all, eating sensibly is one of the many pleasures of life.
  • Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food- Many times people will use food as a distraction or to comfort their emotions. Find ways to comfort, nurture or distract without using food. We all experience loneliness, sadness, anger, hopelessness at times. The goal is to find other positive ways of honoring these emotions, without using food as a scapegoat.
  • Respect Your Body-  Accept your genetics and try not to be overly critical of yourself. It has been said, we are all our own worst critic. If you respect the body you have, do your best to eat healthy, allowing for moderation with pleasurable foods, you will be on your way! We only have one body and it is up to us to take care of it!
  • Exercise- Make it Fun! Exercise and make it fun. Of course, many will look at me like I’m crazy by saying “make exercise fun”. However, exercise can be fun. If you have a walking buddy/buddies, or are fortunate enough to have a membership to a gym or a well-sought out fitness studio boutique, you have the graces of working out alongside others to help with the energy push and motivation. These are the new trends and way to go if medically approved to walk and/or exercise in a gym setting.

Honor Your Health! It is up to you to honor your health! Once you have the necessary tools and guidance, there is no stopping you. It is your body and you have the ability to transform with coaching, tips, exercise and a positive mindset. The Power Lies Within You- Now it’s Time to Unleash It and become your best Self!

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