Eat when you’re hungry – Stop when you’re full.
Don’t see food as “good” or “bad.”
Eat what you want, when you want.
It sounds like the perfect diet, right?
But, this is not a diet at all.
It’s intuitive eating and it truly is a way of life.
Intuitive eating is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert on your body and it’s hunger cues.
Essentially, it is the complete opposite of a traditional diet.
Intuitive eating doesn’t impose guidelines about what or when to eat, or even what foods to include or avoid. Instead, it teaches you are the best person – the ONLY person – to make those choices.
To eat intuitively you may need to relearn how to trust your body. To do that, you need to distinguish between what is physical hunger versus emotional hunger.
Physical hunger is the biological urge that tells you it’s time to replenish nutrients. It’s your growling stomach, fatigue or irritability.
Emotional hunger is driven by an emotional need. It’s feeling sadness, loneliness, and even borden.
Intuitive eating is based on physical hunger, rather than the typical ad nauseam advice from diet books and experts. It’s satisfying physical hunger without causing guilt.
The term intuitive eating was coined in the 1995 book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. In their book, they laid out 10 basic principles for eating intuitively.
Reject the Diet Mentality – The idea there’s a diet out there somewhere that will work for you.
Honor Your Hunger – Hunger is not your enemy. Respond to early signals by feeding your body.
Make Peace with Food – Get rid of ideas about what you should or shouldn’t eat.
Challenge the Food Police – Food is not neither good or bad and you’re not good or bad for what you eat or don’t eat.
Respect Your Fullness – Listen for the signals of fullness, when you’ve had enough.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor – Make your eating experience enjoyable. When you make eating a pleasurable experience you might find it takes less food to satisfy you.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food – Emotional eating is a strategy for coping with feelings. Become aware of the times when a feeling might call hunger.
Respect Your Body – Rather than criticizing your body for how it looks, recognize it is capable and beautiful, just as it is.
Exercise – Find ways to move your body that you actually enjoy.
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition – Remember it’s your overall food patterns that shape your health.
My Journey into Intuitive Eating
I spent the majority of 2017 obsessed with the numbers on the scale and with the number of calories burned versus eaten. I went “clean” with my eating and logged everything I put into my mouth. I even worked out every day, sometimes twice a day.
I told everyone I was doing it to become healthy; To fight Systemic Mastocytosis, which is a rare genetic disorder where mast cells are abnormally increased in multiple organs, including the bone marrow.
What are mast cells, you ask?
Mast cells are immune cells that produce a variety of mediatiors, such as histamine, which is important in the bodies allergic response. Since i create too many of these cells I go into anaphylactic shock for no reason.
While hiding under the guise of getting healthy, my obsession with “clean” eating became unhealthy and so severe I was diagnosed with Orthorexia in October of 2017.
Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity.
In an effort to beat Orthorexia, with the aid of my therapist, I was introduced to intuitive eating, and it was life-changing.
Butter, burgers, donuts – nothing became off limits as long as I ate when hungry and stopped when I was full but not stuffed.
In being truthful, the journey has not necessarily been easy. Over the past month, it has been hard to listen to my body and not the diet programmed mindset that is all over the place with the “New Year. New Me.” bullshit.
If that voice wasn’t screaming at me, I found myself in that all-too-familiar, on-or-off-the-wagon of either doing intuitive eating right and staying within the boundaries of hunger and fullness, or deciding I was doing it all wrong because I ate a cookie when I wasn’t hungry.
While still at battle, I’ve learned going through this process that I’m less concerned about my weight or weight loss. It is no longer my goal or indicator of success.
My focus has become about being mindful, acting on what I need, and practicing self-care and compassion.
My focus is now about accepting myself and my body as is; being perfectly imperfect!
Could you benefit from intuitive eating, here are ways to get started
Listen to your hunger
Our bodies huger signals vary from meal to meal and day to day. Tuning into hunger cues you naturally recognize when you feel hungry throughout the day.
Make sure to eat when moderately hungry versus starving when prone to overeating
Eat when you get hungry, do not wait.
Start to notice how your BODY reacts to foods
After meals pay attention to how your body feels. Notice how satisfied the meal kept you and when you start to get hungry again. Also, notice how energized or how drained you feel after a meal. Sometimes foods can drain us and we don’t even know.
Move in a way that feels good
Explore ways to move your body. Experiment with new activities and stick with the ones you find enjoyable.
Remember, in the end, nobody knows your body like you do.
The sooner you say screw you to the food police and tap into the knowledge you hold inside of you about what is best for you nutritionally, the sooner you’ll be on the path to long-term happiness, health and a vibrant life!