Want to ditch dieting for good and embrace a healthy relationship with food and your body? It might be time to start following your intuition. Here, we tell you about intuitive eating, including five ways to get started.
Intuitive eating encourages people to move away from structured diets and food rules, and—plain and simple—listen to the signals your body is giving you. It’s about honouring your hunger and knowing when you’re stuffed, as well as developing a healthy relationship with food.
In fact, we’re born as intuitive eaters until outside influences, such as our friends and traditional and social media, affect our eating habits and body image. Intuitive eating exists as a way to free ourselves from these preconceived notions about food—lettuce is good, pizza is bad—and see it for what it is. That is, just food—no big deal.
What's so great about it?
Besides moving away from dieting, intuitive eating has a lot going for it. Just in case you need convincing, here’s a list of benefits from Rachel Molenda, a Toronto-based emotional-and-disordered eating coach and certified holistic nutritionist.
- is more sustainable (and enjoyable) than dieting
- helps maintain a healthy body weight
- helps develop a healthy relationship with food
- removes obsessive feelings and behaviours around food
- helps you feel more satisfied
- provides more energy
- helps reduce stress
How do you get started?
- Ditch rules around food and diet. Instead, honour the hunger signals your body is giving you.
- Think of your hunger on a scale from zero to 10, with zero being starving and 10 being stuffed. Strive to eat when your hunger is at a three or a four, and put down the fork around five or six. You should feel satisfied and comfortable, but not too full.
- Distinguish between cravings and physical hunger. “One great tool to distinguish a craving versus physical hunger is to ask yourself ‘Would I eat an apple right now?’ If the answer is no, you probably aren’t very hungry yet. If you would, you probably are, because hunger doesn’t discriminate––food is food, and your body knows when it wants fuel!” suggests Molenda. “That said, I’m not against people honouring their cravings since doing so helps decrease obsessions around food and makes you feel more satisfied as a result.”
- Eat foods you actually like and will make you feel satisfied. “Make a list of foods you like to eat and discover how they make you feel,” says Molenda. “When we eat foods we enjoy and are excited about, we feel more satiated and content as a result; preventing the desire to overeat.”
- Move your body in a way that feels good to you by finding physical activity you enjoy doing. “Naturally, physical activity is going to increase your energy, or caloric, demands, but the amazing thing about intuitive eating is that your body will be able to tell you when it's hungry and needs more fuel,” says Molenda.
What's the trick to making it work?
Don't think of foods as good or bad. One of the key facets of intuitive eating is removing labels around food and recognizing these as societal constructions. “When we think of ice cream, for example, as bad, it makes ice cream our fixation—then we think about it all the time,” says Molenda. “If we view all foods as neutral without morality [good or bad; clean or dirty] and meaning, and focus on what tastes delicious and feels good, then we can tune into how foods make you feel.”