Intuitive Eating: Benefits and Principles

01/20/2021


Eating when you're hungry and stop when you're full could sound like a natural and simple task, however, for many people, it is not. Intuitive eating is an evidence-based eating technique that promotes a healthy attitude toward food and body image. To eat intuitively, you need to trust your body and your hunger cues and relearn how to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.

Physical Hunger

It Is a biological signal from our body telling us that it needs fuel (nutrients). It builds gradually and is satisfied after you eat a certain amount of food.

Emotional Hunger:

It is driven by emotions like sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or boredom. This type of hunger is not always satisfied when you eat. Emotional eating leads to other emotions like guilt and leads to low body image.


Intuitive eating is NOT designed to help you lose weight but can be used to help you control over-eating, avoid binge eating, improve your relationship with food and your general health.


BENEFITS OF INTUITIVE EATING

There are over 100 research studies that show the many health benefits of intuitive eating including:

  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Better body image
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Improved metabolism
  • Decreased rates of disordered and emotional eating
  • Diminished stress levels
  • Increased satisfaction with life

Other benefits of intuitive acting are the reduction of obsessions about foods, fewer cravings, better mood, more energy, and even improved digestion.


10 PRINCIPLES OF INTUITIVE EATING


1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Research is showing us that weight-loss diets don´t work for most people, and often result in regaining the weight back, leading you to weight cycling (Yo-yo dieting) and metabolic damage. Reject and fight against diet culture and their lies that have made you feel as you were a failure when you don't get what they falsely promise you.


2. Honor Your Hunger

Keep your body biologically nourish with adequate energy and with a diverse variety of foods. Restriction often leads to overeating. Learning to honor your biological signals is a necessary step to rebuilding trust in yourself and food. Take into account that this is a process and may take some time.


3. Make Peace with Food

Give yourself permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can't or shouldn't have a particular food when you really want it, it will increase your desire and build over time into uncontrollable cravings, which can lead to bingeing. When you stop the guilt and let yourself eat the "forbidden food", eating is experienced with less emotional intensity, and eventually, food becomes just food.


4. Challenge the "Food Police"

The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created. They put in your head thoughts that declare you're "good" for eating this or "bad" for eating that. The food police are not just outside, it is also in your head giving you negative comments that making you feel guilty. Rejecting the food police is an important step to master Intuitive Eating.


5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Eating much more than nourishment, it is flavor, texture, culture, social environment, pleasure, tradition... When you eat what you really want to eat, in an environment that is safe and not judgmental you will feel satisfied and content. By allowing this experience to yourself, you will find that eventually, it takes just the right amount of food for you to decide you've had "enough."


6. Feel Your Fullness

Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you're comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current hunger levels. In order to respect your fullness, you need to trust that you will not restrict yourself from the foods that you desire in the future, because your body anticipates the deprivation and unconsciously eats more to compensate.


7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness

Stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger, are common emotions we all experience at some point during our life. However, emotions could be attached to our eating habits. Sometimes we can eat as a coping mechanism to deal with our feelings. Food may comfort us short-term, distract us from the pain, or even numb us, but food won't solve the problem and will leave you feeling guilt and regret. Work on dealing with the source of these emotions, through self-help activities or the help of a therapist. And be aware that food restriction can trigger loss of control, overeating, and binge behaviors.


8. Respect Your Body

Work towards the goal of loving your body independently of your size. Respect your body so you can feel better about who you are right now and don´t wait to be "fit" to feel proud of it. It will be easier to reject the diet mentality if you are realistic and acceptant of your body size or shape. All bodies deserve care and respect, the least that you can do is to be kind to yourself.


9. Movement-Feel the Difference

Focus on how it feels to move your body, rather than on the calorie-burning effects of exercise. If you focus on how you feel during or after working out, such as energized or relaxed, this can make the difference in maintaining the behavior short or long term. 


10. Honor Your Health

Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don't have to eat always perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly become unhealthy, from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating out of your normal diet. It's what you eat consistently over time that matters. Don't look for perfection, progress is what really counts.


Let me help you to create a nutritional and lifestyle plan to achieve your health goals.