Intuitive Eating and The 10 Principles

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to health and wellness that helps you tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. Think of it as a journey to discover what your mind and body needs. Let’s get back to basicsForget about what you think you know about eating. Start a new chapter. Consider letting go of your old ideas of how you eat. There’s no need for counting of points, carbs, and calories. Intuitive Eating sets up a natural communication between the mind and body.

Benefits of Intuitive Eating

When asked about her eating habits, Country singer Dolly Parton said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “I just don't eat as much. I eat whatever I want, but less. I realized I didn't need to eat everything I was eating, but I didn't want to give up my favorites. It's what I grew up with."

intuitive eating book

This is the overall concept behind intuitive eating, and this quote highlights the essence of what intuitive eating is. You don’t have to see any food or food group as “good” or “bad”. You are free to eat as you wish, so long as your eating is balanced. Intuitive eating also promotes a healthier, shame and stress-free way to think about how you eat, and thus a more peaceful state of mind.

When you eliminate the obsession to lose weight and instead focus on eating healthy, you end up losing the weight without the additional stress. This eating culture encourages freedom and self-love. You will begin to love the skin you’re in and be more accepting of your body type. No more negative self-talk. You will no longer be obsessed with being thin and having a tiny waist or a perfectly-sculpted six pack. Guess why? You’ll have no worries because your main goal will be to live a happy, healthy life.

Stress is one of the primary factors when it comes to being overweight. It not only affects you physically but disrupts your mental health as well. You will wake up feeling more tired than when you went bed. Your emotions tend to be all over the map, so your relationships suffer. These issues can be caused by an unhealthy relationship with food, and if you experience them, an intuitive eating approach could help you significantly.

There are 10 principles of intuitive eating that, when understood and applied, recreate your natural state of balanced eating—for both the mind and the body. These principles work to either create or eliminate barriers to body awareness, in a process called interoceptive awareness. Intuitive eating can be described as a personal journey of honoring your health by listening to the messages your body sends you.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Unsubscribe from all the diet and weight loss blogs and programs that offer you false hope of shedding weight quickly and permanently. Ignore all those pop-up ads on Facebook that claim they’ve discovered or unlocked the true secret to “actual” weight loss. Truth be told, they are some plans that can help you lose a few pounds. Do any of them guarantee that the weight will stay off once you’ve completed the program? How long will it take before that stubborn love handles return?

Stop forcing your body to lose weight. Purge your mind of all the fake hope that lingers waiting for long-lasting results from dieting. Once that is done, you’ve opened the gateway to true freedom. You’ll notice the fatigue and food cravings that once occurred because of your old dietary restrictions are no more. Open your mind to rediscover intuitive eating and your body will respond in accordance. When you intuitively realize that dieting yields no permanent results, you can start the journey to proper nutrition and healing your body.

2. Honor Your Hunger

Start by establishing trust with your body. By honoring your hunger you are constructing the foundation of trust with yourself. Ensuring that your body is adequately fed is critical. Hunger triggers our primal instinct to overeat. Honoring this biological signal creates the platform to re-establish the trust with food and your body. Allowing the body to experience moments of excessive hunger eliminates all intention of conscious eating.

Forget what the media and magazines deem what the ideal weight or body type is. Allow your body to seek its natural size and accept it. Consider it a learning experience. Once trust is established, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you like.

3. Make Peace with Food

Wave the white flag! The food war is over. It’s high time to start mending your relationship with the way you eat. Start by giving yourself unrestricted permission to eat. If you place restrictions on specific foods as you would when you’re on a diet, this leads to intense feelings of longing. These feelings can then evolve into uncontrollable cravings and even binging. When you do finally cave to your hunger, the gratification is so intense that you’ll most likely end up overeating and be engulfed by guilt. But at that point, the damage is already done, so be free and allow your body to experience food with boundaries. With your renewed mindset steering, you’ll surely reach your desired destination in no time following the intuitive eating principles.

4. Challenge the “Food Police”

The food police can be best described as the tiny voices in your head that whisper to you to avoid eating that delicious slice of chocolate cake because it is loaded with calories. Food police monitor the rules and restrictions established by dieting. The food police can also be real individuals in your life. They can be identified as your friends or family members who readily offer up their judgment and advice about what foods you decide to eat and what diet plan you should start. To fully experience the benefits of intuitive eating, you may want to consider setting healthy boundaries with these people.

When mental chatter from the food police occurs, it can be helpful to give a firm “NO” to those negative thoughts. Intuitive eating is all about restored self-control. Take back the rings and enjoy the freedom that intuitive eating offers.

5. Respect Your Fullness

Be mindful and observe your body’s signals that tell you when you’re full. Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Don’t rush your meal. Enjoy the sensations and taste of your food while you eat. Pause midway through your meal to assess your fullness level. This goes hand-in-hand with intuitive eating principle #2. It is important to eat when you feel hungry, but it’s just important to stop when those hunger cues are no longer present. Don’t retreat to past habits of eating because of anxiety, disappointment, or stress. Only you have the willpower to manifest such change, you just haven’t realized it.

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

When you finally break free from the chains of dieting, you can experience the satisfaction of intuitive eating. When you enjoy what you eat, you’ll notice that your body require less food to feel full. You can explore this principle not only by enjoying the taste and sensation of the food you’re eating but also by taking in your surroundings where you’re eating. Intuitive eating helps bring back the pleasure and happiness we get from food. Sit with your family and friends and start enjoying your meals, then go on to enjoying the rest of your day. Eat because it makes you happy and brings you joy. Let go of all other factors that lead to overeating. Once satisfaction is achieved, all your other cards will fall into line.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

It’s healthy to get to the root of your problems and discover other ways to resolve them instead of turning to food. Being mindful of your emotions is the first step in sorting them out. Food can be used as a bandage solution for emotional problems, and when you eat, for this reason, you’ll end up worse off than where you started! This principle encourages you to learn how to treat the source of these feelings instead of suppressing them with food.

8. Respect Your Body

Learn to accept the body you were born with. Become comfortable with seeing its natural perfection. Respect your body and enjoy it. Eliminate all those negative thoughts stemmed by the diet mentality. Stop being so critical about your shape. Intuitive eating is in no way a weight loss program, but some people have lost weight (and kept it off) after saying goodbye to their unhealthy approach to eating. Intuitive eating is a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

Embracing the intuitive eating lifestyle doesn’t require you to go to the gym every day, but it is important to regularly move your body. The focus has nothing to do with burning calories or fat. The goal is to find an activity that you enjoy which keeps you active. Exercise releases endorphins, your brain’s natural “feel-good” hormones. Experience that burst of energy pumping through your veins! You will feel happier, more relaxed, and less anxious.

Exercise can be enjoyable. You get to unwind, enjoy the outdoors, or simply engage in something that makes you happy like spending time connecting with your family or friends. Applying these changes will empower you to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.

10. Honor Your Health

The final principle focuses on making food choices that honor your health. Choose healthy foods that taste great and nourish your body. You don’t need a perfect diet to be healthy. It’s consistency that matters the most. Intuitive eating is about integrating positive lifestyle changes that will affect your overall health without the stress of dieting. Eat foods that make you feel good, inside and out. Healthy eating is the end result of embracing the 10 intuitive eating principles!

Can intuitive eating actually help people create a healthy connection with food and their body? Yes, it can. By incorporating the 10 intuitive eating principles, you’ll experience a boost in your self-esteem and an improvement in our overall health and wellness. You’ll choose foods that taste good and makes you feel good as well. You’ll establish the trust that was lost between your mind and body.

Say goodbye to all the weight loss programs and diets that tried to trap you in the past. You’ll emerge brand new. You will no longer allow your peers and social media to bully you into fitting into a 3”x3” box. You now have the freedom to choose your own path. So go out there and start eating what love because freedom is happiness.

Further Reading...

Intuitive Eating - Getting Started

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