How many times have you found yourself about to put a bite of something into your mouth, but your brain was telling you “oh…you don’t want to eat THAT?!” Or when deliberating over menu options, that little voice steers you towards one meal over another. We all have that little voice inside us, but do we always listen? This little voice is known as your intuition. Everyone has it. Intuition means using one’s instinct to make a decision, and when it comes to eating, using one’s intuition has been linked to healthier weight, improved mental health, lower blood pressure and more.
How Does it Work?
Intuitive eating is not a diet fad. It is a way of listening and trusting our bodies to let us know when we are hungry, full, and what to eat. There are no restrictions or calorie counting. With many diets, people feel starved and trapped eating limited foods. Intuitive eating allows us to eat what we crave, but we must learn to tune in and realize when our bodies have had enough. Intuitive eating asks you to reject dieting and to embrace your hunger and make peace with food. Ultimately, this way of eating removes the struggle of dieting rules and allows us to treat foods as they should be: fuel and nourishment for our bodies.
More and more studies are being done on Intuitive Eating, and the results have been impressive. A study conducted in 2015 by Doctors Anderson, Reilly, and Schaumberg, showed that calorie restricted diets were associated with higher BMI and disordered eating, while those practicing intuitive or mindful eating showed a decrease in BMI and disordered eating. Likewise, a study by Tracy Tilka, PhD, a psychologist at Ohio State University, found that the women participating in the study were “more likely to reject the societal stereotype that thinness is their ideal body type” and were “less likely to base their self-worth on being thin.” She also found evidence that restriction diets disrupt homeostasis between the gut, liver, brain, and the body’s cells that help maintain internal equilibrium. Intuitive eating has succeeded where restrictive diets have failed because it compliments, rather than fights, the biology of hunger.
What to Remember
There are a few things to remember when beginning to eat intuitively. According to Dr. Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., author of Intuitive Eating, and known leader on the subject, there are a few principles of intuitive eating to keep in mind.
- Honor your hunger. We all feel hunger. It is our bodies talking to us, telling us to give it nourishment. Once we begin to listen to our bodies, these feelings can empower us to become experts on our bodies. Learn to listen to your body’s cues and recognize when your body is hungry for nourishment.
- Reject the diet mentality. Nothing is off limits. Don’t beat yourself up because you crave a burger and French fries one day. Get it out of your system. Eat what you crave, but listen to when your body has had enough. Let go of the notion that there is a perfect diet out there.
- Make Peace with Food. Are there certain foods you have banned yourself from eating? Do you sometimes feel guilty because you ate too much or ate something you weren’t “supposed” to? According to Tribole, keeping this mindset can lead to overeating and binge eating. Make peace and allow yourself to eat what you crave. Stop labeling foods as good or bad. Give yourself permission to eat any foods you want. It has been shown that dieters tend to gain weight in the long term, while intuitive eaters have been found to maintain healthy, stable weight.
- Trust Your Body. Learn to tune in to your body’s cues. Start noticing when your body is hungry or full. At first, it can be a learning process, but the more we practice, the better we can listen. Most of us can recognize when we are starving or stuffed, but try to avoid the extremes. When we wait to eat when we are starving, we can quickly overeat. Pay attention to the gentle hunger you start to experience by checking in with your body throughout the day, asking yourself how hungry or full you feel.
- Enjoy Eating. Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Make it special. Don’t scarf down a meal in front of the television. Sit down at the table and eat without distractions. Making sure you are focused and tuned in will help you realize when your body has had enough.
- Stop Emotional Eating. Many of us turn to food when we are stressed out or emotional. We all joke about heading to the tub of ice cream when having a hard time, but we need to learn to find other emotional outlets when it comes to dealing with our feelings. Instead of turning to food when you feel anxious, lonely, or bored, try some other ways to cope, such as taking a walk, writing in a journal, or meditating. Explore new ways to deal with your feelings without using food.
- Accept Your Body. Accept and respect your body as it is. By doing this you can stop being over-critical about your body shape. We are all different shapes and sizes, and by accepting this, you can make great strides in health and reject dietary restrictions.
Once you begin tuning in to your hunger cues and cravings, you begin noticing how some foods make you feel better than others, and eventually, you will notice your body craving the foods it ultimately needs to be nourished. So, listen to your body and start taking satisfaction in food! Our B.O.S.S. Bars can be a perfect fit for those cravings and in nourishing your body and mind, so make sure to keep them around for when you are on the go and your body is telling you it needs nutrition.
Intuitive eating is a way to free yourself from restrictions, deprivation and yo-yo dieting. It will put you on the path of pleasant and satisfying eating experiences and will allow you to become more balanced and more in tune with your body and mind.