Intuitive eating is an eating strategy that is designed to combat the potentially unhealthy effects that diet culture can have on your relationship with food. Intuitive eating is not considered a diet and promotes a healthy mindset around food that focuses on identifying true hunger and making smart choices for your personal needs. Not only does intuitive eating help you develop a healthier attitude towards the foods you eat, but it also will help you be physically healthier too. Here are some of the key ideas and components of the intuitive eating strategy.
Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
This is the most important principle behind the intuitive eating strategy. When we’re young and haven’t been influenced by diet culture yet, this is a totally natural process. However, as we get older, it becomes harder and harder to identify when we should and shouldn’t eat. In order to be able to do this, you have to start learning when you are actually, physically hungry, and when you want to eat for an emotional reason. If you’re physically hungry, you need to satiate your body appropriately with nutritious food.
Focus on fueling your body.
Eating to satiate your hunger, when you’re actually hungry, is key to preventing binge eating. When you deprive your body of the nutrients it needs, you won’t have the energy to do the things you need to do throughout the day. However, you can’t go without food forever, and when you do eventually eat, your body will want to eat more than it actually needs. This can lead to weight fluctuations and other health issues. Instead of depriving yourself, intuitive eating focuses on eating meals that your body needs, with a nice balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fat. You can even indulge your cravings if you are truly hungry – there’s no judgment.
Respect your body.
An important component of the intuitive eating strategy is to respect and honor your body and how it is feeling. This can require you to drastically change your attitude towards food, which can be difficult at first. You’ll need to accept that hunger and food aren’t your enemy – they’re there to keep you healthy and make sure you have the energy you need. It also means learning to respect and accept your body, which can be incredibly difficult. However, loving your body the way it is will help you be physically and mentally healthier than trying to become a size and shape that you just weren’t built to be. When you eat intuitively, you start to look at and value your body for what it can do, instead of the way it looks.
Find other ways to deal with your feelings.
One of the biggest reasons that we overeat is as a coping mechanism for negative feelings. When you start intuitive eating, you will need to find another way to deal with those feelings. Finding other outlets, like hobbies, as well as coping strategies like journaling, meditation, and therapy, can all help you reduce the urge to overeat.