The concept of intuitive eating is that since you are the best judge of your body you will know the tale tale signs of whether you are truly hungry. Therefore, you can be trusted to eat accordioning to how you feel without the help of any traditional diets. Instead of just ramming food down your throats, however, you are encouraged to ask yourself, do I really want this? Am I hungry? If this answer is yes, then you can eat the food. On top of this, you are encouraged to pause in the middle of a meal or snack for self-reflection and ask: How full do I feel? Am I still eating to feed my hunger, or am I eating out of distraction, boredom, or stress? You can then decide right there and then whether to continue eating. Intuitive eating removes the idea of restriction and focuses on the healing effects of eating foods that make you full and happy. A lot of people describe it as a way of not restricting yourself to eating foods, but also not mindlessly overeating. It’s all based on how you feel.
The diet was first brought to the public’s attention in 1995, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, a pair of dietitians in Southern California, who published their first book, entitled Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works. After watching her parents struggle for years with dieting, Evelyn decided to do something about it.
People in favor of this approach argue that modern-day diets do nothing for weight loss over the long term. They stress that most people end up binge eating after finishing a diet anyway.
A popular belief among intuitive eaters is that the modern-day pressures of society to look and act a certain way have led many of us to experience negative feelings towards certain foods. In essence, we feel a sense of guilt and judgment when we eat foods that are considered bad. Take a step back for a moment and realize that food is neither good nor bad in its very core nature. It’s just-food. Labeling it as bad can pose many problems. With this new approach to food, you’re encouraged to stop believing society’s messages that quick-fix plans can deliver lasting results. Diets are not the answer as they are not sustainable over the long haul. When we give ourselves permission to eat certain foods, we take away the risk of binge eating which often occurs when we stop ourselves from eating a particular food for long periods of time.
When people first hear about the intuitive eating approach, they become skeptical. They worry that having the freedom to eat whatever they want will only lead to them putting on more weight. But this is not what the concept intuitive eating is about. Author Evelyn goes on to explain: “A wonderful thing ends up happening when you give yourself permission to, say, eat chocolate doughnuts for breakfast,”. “You stop and ask yourself, ‘Do I really want this now?’ Not just, ‘Will I enjoy it in the moment,’ but also ‘Will I feel good when I’m finished?’ And often, people realize they don’t really want that food that was forbidden before; they just got caught up in society telling them they couldn’t have it. Evelyn adds further, “When you can bring the pleasure and joy back to eating, you can truly feel satisfied after a meal and move on and enjoy the rest of your life, rather than continue to eat for other reasons”
Whilst the health benefits of intuitive eating can be very good for many people’s peace of mind, it’s important to become aware that eating food should never be a person’s only way of coping with their emotions. When this occurs, it can become problematic. Instead, look to find ways of introducing different coping mechanisms into your life. Here are a few different ways of coping with hardships without eating:
- Calling a friend
- Listening to music
- Listening to a guided meditation
- Taking a bath or shower
- Painting your nails
- Lighting a scented candle
- Knitting, crocheting, or beadwork
- Colouring in a coloring book
- Pinning on Pinterest
- Video games
- Watching a movie
Intuitive eating is not considered to be a weight loss guide. Some women, however, do lose weight. Success can be measured simply by looking at how well an individual feels about themselves in the upcoming weeks and months after commencing this approach.
In a nutshell, intuitive eating means breaking free from the on-and-off cycle of dieting and learning to eat mindfully and without guilt or judgment. If you are looking to lose weight, then this approach probably isn’t for you. If, however, you’d like a break from dieting then this approach could be perfect for you. Why not try it this Christmas and let us know how you feel?
For more information on the health benefits of intuitive eating, you can download your free book here.