“Don’t overthink it.” You’ve probably given this advice to every friend you’ve ever had about every relationship they’ve ever been in. And from an outsider’s perspective, it seems pretty simple. But have you ever thought about taking that advice in your own relationships? What about in the longest long-term relationship you’ve ever been in -- your relationship with food?
It’s totally common to feel like your relationship with food is somewhat always on the rocks. Whether you would consider yourself a “yo-yo dieter” or you simply restrict your diet in some way, you’ve probably overcomplicated your relationship with food at some point in your life. So how do you bring it back to the basics and stop overthinking everything? Let’s talk about intuitive eating, the fancy term that’s blown up the internet with its ridiculously simple concept: no dieting.
What is “intuitive eating”?
The term “intuitive eating” was coined by two registered dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995. These women brought this term to their practice as a non-diet approach to health and wellness with the goal of simply listening to your body’s signals. You probably know that the root of all good relationships is trust, and this approach is no exception. Their idea is to trust your body first and foremost, allowing you to break that toxic cycle of dieting and experience a healthy relationship with food. Intuitive eating has nothing to do with counting calories or macros (who ever thought bringing math class to the dinner table was a good idea?). Instead of a rule-focused diet, intuitive eating is a behavior-based approach to eating that relies entirely on listening to your body’s hunger cues and satisfaction, not about listening to the little guilty voice in your head that tells you what you can and can’t have.
How can you practice intuitive eating?
There are 10 main principles of intuitive eating. We broke down five that you can easily start practicing today without any consultation.
1. Forget the diet mentality.
Reject the system of dieting -- research has shown that actively dieting actually increases your risk of gaining weight. Purge your bookshelves of restrictive diet books, and let your mind be open to the possibilities of a diet-less diet.
2. Honor your hunger.
Learn to trust that your body knows when it needs food. When you try to override your feelings of hunger, you put yourself at higher risk of binging later. Check out the hunger-fullness scale to start listening to your body better.
3. Make peace with food.
You probably have spent a lot of your life categorizing foods as “good” or “bad” and praised or punished yourself based on these guidelines. When you tell yourself you can’t have something “bad,” you’re more inclined to build an uncontrollable craving for it later on, which can lead to a binge. Think about how freeing it would be to get rid of those labels and learn to healthily incorporate all foods.
4. Challenge the “food police.”
Basically, tell that guilty voice in your head to stop talking. Its voice should never be louder than your natural hunger cues or cravings.
5. Exercise -- feel the difference.
Instead of thinking about the exercise that you should be doing, consider what kinds of movement make you feel best. Rather than considering calories, tune into how your body actually feels after you workout. Tap into that positive energy and allow it to fuel your overall positive relationship with food.
While to some, this may sound like the most, well, intuitive thing that anyone could possibly be presented as a breakthrough in the world of nutrition, to others, this concept presents an opportunity to re-learn healthy eating and finally break that soul-crushing diet mentality. It may sound like a terrifying free-for-all, but we guarantee that you’ll notice that your body naturally craves clean food for no reason other than because it makes you feel so gr8. Learning to trust your body’s hunger and satiety cues and nixing the guilt could be the most free you’ve ever felt in this long term relationship.