Now, let’s get one thing straight; intuitive eating is not what you think. You don’t just stop tracking macros and then suddenly become an intuitive eater. Intuitive eating isn’t just something you wake up one day and start doing easily. We are born as intuitive eaters but throughout life our innate ability to satisfy hunger and satiety cues can become compromised due to external influences.
So, what is intuitive eating?
Intuitive Eating is an actual concept backed up by science with principles (not rules) to use as guidance. These are:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honour your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Feel your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Cope with your emotions without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise – feel the difference
- Honour your health
[Taken from Tribole and Resch’s Intuitive Eating]
It is certainly not a diet and is not about losing weight – instead there is no focus on weight loss at all. It’s about letting your body find its natural set-point – whether that be heavier or lighter than you are now – and allowing your body to keep finding its set-point as this is constantly changing throughout life. One thing I really want to stress is that if you are trying to lose weight by “eating intuitively”, you are not practicing intuitive eating – it has nothing to do with weight loss or dieting.
It is also not just about “eating when hungry and stopping when full” which could easily turn into the “hunger and fullness diet”. You are still allowed to eat for reasons other than hunger – think cake at birthdays and delicious meals out with friends. There is no restriction and no deprivation, but instead a whole lot of respect for yourself, your body, your health (mentally and physically) and how you feel; actually being satisfied by the food you eat and not feeling any guilt.
It is also not eating anything and everything all the time. I have heard and seen a lot of people saying things like “I couldn’t eat intuitively because I wouldn’t be able to stop eating – I’d eat pizza and cookies all day long and get so fat!”. This is when I know that these people do not understand the concept of intuitive eating. The combination of the principles listed above mean that you respect your body and make food choices based on a number of things; not just eating all of your favourite foods constantly without any regard for anything else – in fact, if you did eat pizza and cookies all day long every day, you would find very quickly that this makes you feel awful and that would go against the principles of intuitive eating.
It is also slightly different to mindful eating. Mindful eating seems to be practiced a lot by people – which is great – but is used with the intention of eating less for weight loss, which goes against intuitive eating. Instead, intuitive eating focuses more on conscious eating – in this way you actually focus on the food you are eating without distraction but without the intention of eating less for weight loss. It allows you to get more satisfaction from food, meaning that you actually enjoy food rather than feel like you’re constantly fighting against it.
Intuitive eating may sound a bit like fuzzy, airy-fairy rubbish and “listening to your body” is a bit of a buzz-saying at the moment. But that’s because people aren’t aware of the actual concept of intuitive eating that I have described above. It is extremely difficult to listen to your body, especially in this society and especially if you have spent a large proportion of your life dieting or worrying about body image. It isn’t something you can do overnight and it takes time and care to become a true intuitive eater – it is something I am continuing to learn to do everyday.
Having a good relationship with food, your body and your mind is something I feel so passionately about, and is something I will be blogging about a lot more from now on! If you have any particular questions or any other feedback, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
If you want to learn more about intuitive eating I strongly recommend the following resources:
- Intuitive Eating Book by Tribole and Resch
- Laura Thomas PhD, Registered Nutritionist: instagram, website and podcast
- Christy Harrison, Registered Dietitian: instagram, website and podcast
- Linda Bacon PhD: website, book
- Haley Goodrich, Registered Dietitian: website, instagram