Maybe you’re a dieter who wants to give up restrictive eating because you just…can’t…do it…anymore. Or maybe you’re someone who has struggled with overeating for some time. Either way, you’re wondering how you can eat healthier while still feeling relaxed around food.
The answer is simple: Intuitive Eating!
Intuitive Eating is a book by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch that teaches the reader how to stop dieting and start looking within for guidance around eating. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating are:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise–Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health
You can read about these principles in more depth on the Intuitive Eating website.
In my opinion, rejecting dieting mentality and honoring your internal hunger and fullness cues are the core elements of Intuitive Eating. Within the this framework, I believe there is a lot of flexibility (it’s intuitive, after all!) to suit anyone’s needs. Long-time restrictive eaters might benefit more from “demand feeding” – eating whenever you feel hungry for food, even if it is not on a schedule. Some may enjoy a more structured approach, such as having regular breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times, but within that structure, giving yourself food that you really love and eating as much as you want while honoring hunger and fullness signals.
Others might find yet different ways to eat intuitively. The main point is to not get to that overly hungry, starved place before a meal – the feeling I like to call hangry (yeah, you know it, hungry-angry) – which usually results in eating way too much. The other key is finding that magic stopping point, the one where your stomach says to you, in a very rational voice (which I imagine to sound a lot like KITT, the car from Knight Rider), “That was delicious, and even though I’m not stuffed yet, I really think I’ve had enough.” It sounds easy, but if you’ve been dieting a long time, these are skills you may have to re-learn (we know how to do this as babies). Depending on how long you’ve been ignoring these internal cues, it could take a while to become skillful at eating intuitively again, but rest assured it is way easier and a lot more enjoyable than counting calories.
What Intuitive Eating is not: Emotional eating. Eating to self-medicate. Eating to meet someone else’s idea of what you should eat.
What is the result of Intuitive Eating? Well, this is how it has worked for me: I can eat whatever I want without feeling instantly guilty. I eat more vegetables now. I eat salads because I am not afraid of the calories in the dressing. I rarely overeat. I never binge. I can leave food on my plate because I am satisfied. I can savor a meal at a restaurant without first eating the entire bread basket. I enjoy chocolate without hoovering it. I don’t think about food all day long. I can enjoy a meal with friends. I can have just one cookie. I forget about the ice cream in the freezer. In other words, I am free from the hold food had on me. The opposite of this was true when I dieted, and I was not relaxed around food or happy with myself. If you want the same kind of freedom, get the book or find yourself a HAES/intuitive eating dietitian to help you.
There you have it — HAES® and Intuitive Eating make the basic recipe for a non-diet life! Freedom from diets tastes delicious.