Definition: Intuitive eating is an approach to eating developed to help people heal from the side effects of chronic dieting.
An intuitive eater is someone who:
• Makes food choices without experiencing guilt
• Honors their hunger
• Respects their fullness
• Enjoys the pleasure of eating
10 Principles of intuitive eating:
1. Reject diet mentality – understand that losing weight quickly via crash diets and new fads is NOT the answer, and learning to trust your body to tell you what it needs.
2. Honor your hunger – keep your body fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant.
3. Make peace with food – if you tell yourself that you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” have a certain food it can lead to feelings of intense deprivation that build themselves into intense cravings. When you finally give in to these cravings, it often ends in a Last Supper ordeal where you overeat and feel overwhelming guilt. Instead, allow yourself to eat what you want, when you want.
4. Challenge the food police – stop labeling food as “good” and “bad.” Calories are calories.
5. Respect your fullness – listen to your body. It will tell you when it is full. Keep in mind that it takes your belly about 20 minutes to tell your brain that it’s full, so eat slowly to avoid over filling.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor – in our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence; the pleasure and happiness that comes with eating good food. ALLOW yourself to enjoy food.
7. Honor your feelings without using food – find ways to comfort, nurture, and distract yourself WITHOUT using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are all emotions that can trigger people to eat. Food won’t fix any of these feelings, so start torecognize the difference between emotion and hunger.
8. Respect your body – accept your genetic blueprint. Just as you would not expect your foot to fit in a size 5 shoe when you naturally wear a size 8, don’t expect your body to be a an unrealistic size that it is not. It is hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your genetic makeup and body shape.
9. Exercise – move your body because it feels good, not as a form of punishment. If you focus on how you FEEL from working out, you will be more motivated to feel good more often (as opposed to being motivated to workout to lose weight when you don’t see the scale change on a daily basis).
10. Honor your health – remember that you don’t have to eat “perfectly” every day to be healthy. Life is about balance. You will not suddenly be nutrient deficient or gain weight from one bad snack or one poor day of eating. Progress NOT perfection is what counts.
Pros of intuitive eating:
• Because there are no restrictions on what you can and can’t eat, it can help reduce hang ups about certain foods.
• Once you have the basics of nutrition figured out, you can fly the nest and soar like a nutritional eagle without being bound to specific rules.
• Allows you to be free and easy about your food choices which makes every day life easy and enjoyable.
• You can count macros and still practice intuitive eating. Your macro profile will provide the road map of what your body needs nutritionally.
Cons of intuitive eating:
• It requires a very good understanding of food, calories, portion sizes, and basic nutrition.
• It takes time to understand what foods are calorie dense and should be consumed in lower quantities/less frequently. This is a developed skill that won’t happen overnight.
• Less structure and guidelines. If you’re a beginner, having structure and guidelines are important. That doesn’t mean you have to calorie count, but it does mean that you have to understand how to keep yourself in a caloric deficit over time to lose weight. For example, foods such as nuts and avocados are full of nutrients and healthy fats, HOWEVER, are very calorie dense. So, while you might be eating healthy options, you could still be putting yourself in a caloric surplus.
How Does ‘Macro-Nutrient’ Counting Fit with Intuitive Eating?
Macro counting can be the guidelines you need to provide direction with your food choices. With intuitive eating, just because you ‘feel’ like eating a certain food doesn’t mean you should…
The whole concept of ‘intuitive eating’ should be supported by the premise that overall HEALTH improvement is the goal.
Let me be clear, intuitive eating can be the key to ‘diet freedom’ but it can also be a slippery slope to finding yourself at the bottom of a vat of ice cream, wine bottle or bag of chips if you don’t put supports in place.
So, with the idea that improved health is the goal, meeting a specific macro-nutrient profile will give you the guidelines on how many carbs/fats/proteins you need to be healthy and the choice is yours as to what you’ll eat.
If you’d like to discuss what this means for YOU, if you’d like some direction on how you can use macros and intuitive eating, reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, watch this short video on why your weight is stuck and let’s talk after.