Intuitive eating is simple and far less distressing compared to its alternative – the diet. When your body tells you “I’m hungry,” fulfill its wish and find something to eat. If your stomach gets full, simply put your plate down and stop eating. “When there’s trust that you can enjoy the given food or drink when you want it, there isn’t this urgency to enjoy it in copious amounts,” writes Toronto-based nutritionist Rachel Molenda.
You can eat whatever you choose without restrictive rules. Sure, it sounds risky; however, an analysis of 97 studies found that people who eat intuitively appreciate their bodies and have higher self-esteem. It can even lower disordered eating. Thanks to dietician Evelyn Tribole and nutritional therapist Elyse Resch, their 10 principles of intuitive eating introduces us to healthy eating without mental distress.
The first principle is rejecting the diet mentality. “Equating weight loss and increased self confidence leaves us insecure because our happiness and degree of self-love is fluctuating according to numbers on the scale,” writes nutritionist Cristel Moubarak. Diets stop us from trusting ourselves to make the right choices for our bodies. The second principle is honouring your hunger. When you’re physically hungry, your body is telling you it needs nutrients, so paying attention to your physical hunger is crucial.
Next, make peace with food. Intuitive eating works better than diets because there are no restrictions on what you can eat. It can be stressful when you’re always thinking of what you’re going to eat and when. This can even lead to eating disorders. The fourth principle helps challenge the notion of good food versus bad food. Rather than looking at high-calorie food as bad, we should challenge the food police. According to this principle, “the police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loudspeaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments.”
Eating should be satisfying, and this is what the fifth principle tells us. When you eat until you’re full, you will get to that point. The sixth principle — feel your fullness — should come naturally. There is less reason to worry about overeating if your body is saying, “I can’t eat this anymore.” At the same time, ask yourself if your hunger is physical or emotional. That is the seventh step to the process. When you eat emotionally, you develop cravings to suppress your feelings. After satisfying them, you might feel guilty or angry towards yourself.
Dieting teaches us to judge food as something that hinders us from meeting the desired body image. Intuitive eating, however, tells us to respect our bodies. The eighth principle tells us to feel comfortable in our own skin, which leads to feeling better about ourselves. Punishing our bodies to burn calories is not helpful. The types of exercise we do should leave us feeling energized, and overall, good, which is what the ninth principle teaches us.
The goal of intuitive eating — as the tenth principle illustrates — is honouring your health. It’s up to us to make healthy food choices. After all, diets fail because they are too restrictive, so why not choose foods we enjoy for our meal plans?
Tashon Daley | Contributing Writer