What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an anti-diet approach to eating that was developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch to help you build a healthier relationship with food. This ultimately starts by rebuilding trust and the connection with your body when it comes to eating.
With all the diet & wellness information coming at you, and you've probably been subscribed to it for so long, it might be hard to know what that looks like.
Think about how a baby eats.
They eat when they are hungry, right? And they eat what tastes good and what they need at that moment. I love this example because it really just made it so visually clear to me. This is mindful and intuitive eating at its purest.
Babies don't choose foods based on what the calorie content is, what is going to make them fat or lose weight, or only eat in a certain time block of hours. They eat when they are hungry and they stop when they are full. They eat what they list and what tastes good, and often spit out or flat out refuse what they are not going to eat.
This just goes to show how innate mindful and intuitive eating really is. You are born with it!
But over time, with all the information that comes at us from social media, the news, food marketing, etc it's easy to forget how to listen to the cues our body sends, what your hunger and fullness cues are, or what you really want (vs. what diet and wellness thoughts have told you that you should want).
With practice and relearning, you can tune back in! By increasing your awareness of your body, paying attention but not obsessing over food, you can feel better when you eat and improve your relationship with food & your body.
Here are a few places to start:
Challenge the food police. This is just one of the 10 principles behind intuitive eating. The food police are those rules and often thoughts that we have been conditioned to think are normal when it comes to what, how, and when to eat. Instead, give yourself unconditional permission to eat all the foods (yes all of them!). When we release the fear around what you "can and cannot have", all foods are fair game. They often lose their appeal when we "can't" or "shouldn't" have them. And if you do --so what!? You start to notice how much you enjoyed it, and you satisfy the craving allowing you to honor your body. Most often, you are then able to release it and move on!
Regularly feeding your body with adequate and satiating meals and snacks. If you aren't eating enough, then you won't get the cues. 'Enough' is vague because there isn't a set amount. Everyone is going to need a different amount of food for energy. But also your body isn't static so neither is what you are going to be craving or how much you need.
Aim to stay in the 4-7 range on the Hunger-Fullness scale. This is a tool that helps to tap back into those cues from your body. Identify and tune in to where your body is in regards to feeling hungry and full. Staying the middle helps avoid the ravenous feeling of 1-3 which can often lead to scarfing down food or reaching for the foods that give you that quick burst of energy but aren't going to keep you full for very long. This also can cause for overeating to the extreme landing you somewhere in the 8-10 range leading to throwing off your appetite for a while.
This isn't something that happens overnight or even in one week of practice. It takes time, Give yourself and your body grace!