Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Food is one of those things we sometimes take for granted. This is especially true when our lives get busy. Our basic needs such as the enjoyment of food becomes an automatic after-thought.
Add social media and advertising on top of this, and we are totally disconnected to what helps nourish and sustain us from the inside out. Don't let your circumstances cook for you.
Break the guilty cycles of eating, dieting and exercising. Instead, ask yourself these questions: What do I love eating? What brings me joy? How will I have a healthy relationship with food?
Introducing... the 10 principles of intuitive eating!
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is a philosophy created in 1990s by two registered dieticians. It's an approach that rejects restrictive traditional diets of any kind. Instead, it encourages you to listen to your own body and develop a mindful relationship with food.
When you connect with how hungry or how satisfied you are at any moment, you'll intuitively know when, what and how much you'll eat.
Benefits of intuitive eating:
Research says that intuitive eating:
Leads to positive body image
Mitigates disordered eating such as emotional eating
Avoids yo-yo dieting and repeated gaining and losing of weight
Improves mental health
Lowers body mass index (BMI)
Eases the experience of depression and anxiety
Decreases attachment and preoccupation with food
Increases overall quality of life
(Intuitive eating is not designed for weight loss or weight gain; rather, it's designed for weight maintenance and for developing a healthy relationship with food.)
10 principles of intuitive eating:
Intuitive eating is based on 10 principles.
1. Reject the diet mentality
When you diet, you're disconnecting yourself to your hunger cues. Over time, this leads to a complicated relationship with food. The result is often yo-yo dieting, which is unsustainable and have you gain all the weight you might otherwise lose and keep off.
2. Honour your hunger
Your body is biologically wired to tell you what it needs. Trust your gut when it says "I'm hungry". Then give yourself permission to eat.
3. Make peace with food
When you are craving for something, allow yourself to have it.
When something is not 'forbidden', you'll enjoy it more. You'll also be less obsessive because the 'forbidden' food is less exciting. Eg: eating a chocolate cake three days in a row, by the fourth day, it's just a 'cake'.
4. Challenge the food police
The food police is any conversation about which foods are 'good', and which foods are 'bad'. It includes your own internal thoughts as well as conversations with other people around you, even when they are well-intentioned.
When you are labelling food, you're conditioning yourself to feel shame, failure and guilt.
Give up judgements about food, body image and dieting, and eat what you want!
5. Feel your fullness
You don't have to eat everything in front of you. As you are eating, pause and check in: Am I still enjoying my food? How full am I?
When you are full and satisfied (ie: not "stuffed"), it is okay to leave food on the plate or say no to another serving.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor
Don't eat when you are in a hurry or being distracted.
When you are eating, pay attention to the experience. Notice the colours, textures, tastes and smells.This is sacred time for you to enjoy every bite.
If you are too busy, focus on the first bite, the last bite, and a couple in between.
7. Cope with your feelings without using food
Emotional eating is very common. And it's not always the big, extreme emotions that cause this. More often, it's the feelings of boredom and distraction that lead to overeating.
Ask yourself if you are physically hungry, or if you are resorting to food because it's an easy answer to your emotions.
Finding new and different coping skills is part of intuitive eating. Be brave. Get to the root cause. And deal with the source of your emotion without food.
8. Respect your body
Accept your genetic blueprint. The body that you have is the body that you have, and it's perfect for you. Don't equate your self-worth to the shape, size or weight of your body. Let go of unrealistic expectations because they are "unrealistic" for a reason.
Respecting your body will help you make logical choices that are right for you and no one else. You'll feel better and you'll even start to notice how great your body already is!
9. Exercise — feel the difference
When you exercise, don't focus on how many calories you are burning. Focus on how it makes you feel.
Choose a sport or an exercise you actually enjoy. What could you do that would be fun? It might be dancing, walking, gardening, running, or team games. Don't force yourself to do something you don't enjoy. Let it be fun and effortless.
10. Honour your health
You don't have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. Studies show that feelings of stress, shame and guilt actually cause more health-related issues over the long run than eating that extra cupcake. So you may as well eat that extra cupcake and enjoy it!
One snack, one meal or one day of overeating don't matter over the long term.
Progress over perfection is what counts. Eat what you want and also introduce good nutrition. Choose food that are good for both your health and your taste buds. This will come naturally when you embrace all ten principles together.
The bottom line
Food is there to be enjoyed. Leave behind unhealthy dieting and food deprivation. Eat what you want, when you want, and how you want. Listen to your gut and eat what nourishes your body and soul.
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