Intuitive eating is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body’s hunger signals. Essentially the opposite of most traditional diets, there are no guidelines on what to eat or avoid.
It’s simple — eat when hungry and stop when full. This shouldn’t be intuitive, but for many people this process is out of whack.
To eat intuitively you need to relearn to trust your body and to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger.
Physical hunger is a biological urge. It builds gradually and signals with a growling stomach, fatigue or irritability and is satisfied when you eat.
Emotional hunger is driven by emotional needs like sadness or boredom and creates cravings for comfort foods.
Here are the 10 principles to get you started.
1. Reject diet mentality. Recognize that fad diets don’t work and commit to eating intuitively instead.
2. Honor your hunger. Identify early signs of hunger and eat, don’t wait. Once you reach excessive hunger, you are likely to overeat.
3. Make peace with food. Call a truce. Identifying foods as forbidden leads to craving that food. In intuitive eating, there are no prohibited foods, just eat it with a healthy diet and until full.
4. Confront the food police. There are no good or bad food, so don’t feel guilty. Just eat in moderation until you are full.
5. Respect your fullness. Your body naturally indicates its fullness. Pause during meals, appreciate your food and gauge your fullness. Then stop, even if you leave food or refuse dessert.
6. Discover satisfaction. Savor eating — don’t eat in the car, in between appointments, in front of the TV or computer. Concentrate on your food and appreciate it.
7. Honor your feelings. Recognize food doesn’t fix your problems, just offers short-term comfort. Make food a pleasurable experience and it may take less food to satisfy. Find other ways to confront those feelings.
8. Respect your body. Rather than criticizing your body, recognize it as beautiful. Accepting and respecting your body will help you make logical choices about food rather than emotional.
9. Exercise — feel the difference. Don’t exercise to lose weight, but focus on how you feel from working out. Recognize the energy and confidence you gain from it. Then add things you enjoy like dancing, tennis or yoga.
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition. Choose foods that are nutritious and satisfying. Don’t deprive yourself; one treat isn’t going to blow up your health journey. Make this your complete eating style that shapes your health.