Employee Wellness: What is Intuitive Eating?
Did you grow up having to finish all the food on your plate? Do you restrict yourself from eating the foods that you love only to binge on them later? Enter intuitive eating, an anti-diet approach created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
Intuitive eating teaches you how to reclaim the innate ability we were all born with, which is to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. Instead of eating based on external cues, such as weight, looks, or societal pressures, you learn how to eat based on internal cues such as hunger, fullness, satisfaction, and energy. And instead of an attitude of negativity and restriction towards your body, you show kindness and care for your body. Intuitive eating is all about working with your body instead of working against it.
Benefits of Intuitive Eating
There are emotional and physical benefits of intuitive eating that have been scientifically proven. Some of the physical benefits include lower triglycerides, higher HDL levels (the ‘good’ cholesterol), and lower BMI. Some of the emotional benefits include higher self-esteem, well-being, optimism, body appreciation and acceptance, improved coping skills, pleasure from eating, and lower rates of eating disorders and emotional eating.
Intuitive eating can also help you stop yo-yo dieting and obsessing with food and your weight. Instead, you can be truly in touch with your body and heal your relationship with food.
The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating
There are 10 guiding principles to help you embrace intuitive eating. These are not a set of diet rules! You don’t have to go in any particular order. Depending on your background and history with diets and food, different principles may pertain to you more than others. Go according to your personal needs!
Reject the diet mentality. Stop dieting and acknowledge the fact that diets don’t work!
Honor your hunger. Hunger is not your enemy! Respond to signs of hunger by feeding your body. If you let yourself get excessively hungry then you are likely to overeat.
Make peace with food. Drop the concept of good and bad foods. If you deprive yourself of certain foods, it can lead to uncontrollable cravings and binging that usually result in overeating and overwhelming guilt.
Challenge the food police. Challenge thoughts that tell you that certain foods are good or bad and therefore make you feel good or bad for what you do or don’t eat.
Discover the satisfaction factor. Eat foods you enjoy, instead of what you “should” eat. Savor the experience of eating. You have permission to enjoy your eating experience!
Feel your fullness. Just as your body tells you when it’s hungry, it also tells you when it’s full. As you eat, check-in with yourself to see how hungry or full you’re feeling. Listen to your body’s signals of comfortable fullness.
Cope with your emotions with kindness. Food won’t fix feelings. It may comfort for the short term or distract from the pain, but it won’t solve the problem. Find ways that are not related to food to deal with your feelings.
Respect your body. Accept your genetic makeup. Stop abusing your body with diets and tight clothes and treat your body with respect; eat when you are hungry and wear clothing that is comfortable and fits you.
Practice joyful movement. Instead of exercising to burn calories, focus on how it makes you feel. Find ways to move your body that you enjoy.
Honor your health with gentle nutrition. Honor your health and taste buds by choosing foods that taste good and make you feel good. One snack or meal won’t make or break your health, it’s your overall food choices that shape the pattern of your health.
If this sounds overwhelming and impossible, that’s ok! Think about how long you’ve been dieting or struggling with your weight, that didn’t happen overnight! The process of intuitive eating doesn’t happen overnight either. It takes practice and requires persistence and patience. As the saying goes, “Change doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with the desire, then one small step in the right direction.”
Learn more about intuitive eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Michal Abish, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. The original intuitive eating pros
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3. The original intuitive eating pros (3)