Intuitive Eating is based upon the belief that each of us has an inner wisdom about the amount and types of foods we need to function at our best. This inner wisdom is ours at birth, but it may have become diffused by well-meaning parents who told us to “clean our plates” or our favorite celebrities who sold us on diets that eliminated calories or even whole food groups.
Intuitive Eating returns us to the state in which we can access our inner wisdom to make nourishing food and exercise choices. It is a lifestyle which promotes the selection of foods and activities which help us the heal and support the mind-body-spirit connection.
Those who follow an Intuitive Eating lifestyle strive to incorporate the:
Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating
1. Let Go of the Diet Mentality
It’s hard to believe, but everything we’ve learned about dieting has been proven wrong! In fact, research has now proven that diets actually increase your risk for gaining weight. Why? Because with each diet you try, you lower your body’s metabolic set-point. That means that you’ll actually have a more difficult time burning calories. After a period of time on the diet, you’ll find that your cravings become uncontrollable, and you inevitably begin eating more calories.
However, even if you’re not overeating, you will likely gain back the weight you lost and more. This is because your metabolism remains at the lower set-point, and you burn calories even less-efficiently. Each time you diet, it further compromises your metabolic ability to burn calories. This is what we refer to as yo-yo dieting and you must let go of the diet mentality to achieve permanent wellbeing.
2. Honor Your Fullness
Have you ever been on a diet plan that required you to eat at certain times of day, or certain quantities of “healthy” foods even though you may not have been hungry for more? Diet plans often teach us to ignore the signs that we’re full. We follow rigid rules and believe we can’t trust our own intuitive wisdom to help us discern when we are full. Through bringing awareness to your body and thoughts/emotions while eating, you can pause halfway through a meal and determine if you may be full. Perhaps all you really need are a few more bites to feel totally satiated. Intuitive Eating helps you reconnect with the cues that signal fullness so that you naturally stop before overeating.
3. Challenge Your Food Rules
I bet you can easily think of a half-dozen food rules. These are the rules touted over the internet and social media such as “don’t eat after 6pm”, “don’t snack between meals”, “clean your plate”, “fast 12-16 hours a day”… and so many more!
With Intuitive Eating, you will be challenging the food rules you have adopted throughout your lifetime. You will learn to reclaim the normal and pleasurable act of eating ALL foods without your internal “food police” governing ever bite.
4. Stop Labeling Foods as “Good” and “Bad”
Believing that foods are either “good” or “bad” sets you up psychologically to overeat “forbidden” foods. You may have the best intentions to stop at just one or two bites, but the mind becomes anxious that you may not have this food again for a long time, and so you are likely to eat as much as you can while you have it.
How many times have you had a “last supper” with all your favorite “bad” foods because you were starting a diet the next day? Now compare that with the number of times you binged on “good” foods? I don’t think anyone has ever binged on broccoli! When you stop labeling foods as “good” and “bad” they lose their power over you!
5. Honor Your Hunger
When you diet, you are ignoring signals of true hunger in order not to use up your daily points or calories. You teach yourself that it is normal to feel the burn of stomach acid, dizziness, and lethargy.But hunger is a normal biological process meant to help you thrive. When you begin to eat intuitively, you will learn to honor your true hunger signals.
6. Exercise for Pleasure
How often have you gone to the gym and got on the treadmill simply for the pleasure of it? Most likely, you have put in your time and miles in an effort to burn calories! As you adopt the Intuitive Eating lifestyle, you will learn to choose exercise that is pleasurable and invigorating. Was there a time you loved to dance, hike, or bike? Now is the time to reconnect with exercise that feeds your spirit!
7. Honor Your Body
For most of us, we began our first diet because we believed something was wrong with our body. We bought into the diet mentality which preys on our insecurities around body image. When you adopt the Intuitive Eating lifestyle, you will begin to look at your body in a new way. You will see what is wonderful about your body, and learn how to silence your inner critic. Honoring your body will come easily as you practice new skills learned in the Nourish Counseling Intuitive Eating Program.
8. Learn Healthier Coping Skills
Many of us have learned from a young age to use food as a coping mechanism. Your well-meaning parents likely gave you a bottle of milk to soothe you, or treated you to an ice cream sundae or cookies when you had a bad day at school. Food can bring comfort, but it becomes a problem when it is the ONLY tool we have to help us deal with difficult emotions. Through the Nourish Counseling Intuitive Eating program, you will learn how to create new coping skills that don’t rely on food.
9. Eat What You Truly Crave
When you were a child, you may have been rewarded with dessert for “clearing your plate”. You likely had to override any real sense of fullness as fear of not having dessert overtook you. Have you ever ate a meal to the point of fullness, yet still not felt satisfied? You might then go on a hunt for something to fill the craving, not even knowing what it is that you want.
When you learn to eat intuitively, you will be able to allow yourself the foods you crave. You will easily reach satiety with a few bites, as the food is no longer “forbidden”. When you eat what you truly crave, the feelings of contentment will cause you to be satisfied with less.
10. Embrace Gentle Nutrition
Intuitive Eating rejects the “All-or-Nothing” mentality of dieting. It isn’t about perfection; it’s about creating a sustainable lifestyle and eating habits that support you in wellness. Gentle nutrition means not cutting our whole food groups (unless allergies or medical reasons require it), and trusting yourself to eat all foods in moderation. This change doesn’t happen overnight, but with practice, you can learn to embrace gentle nutrition.