Intuitive eating: what is it and should we all be doing it?
The VITL Nutrition Team
Our in-house nutritionist explains intuitive eating; what it is and how we can incorporate it into our lives.
Most of us have been on some sort of diet at some point in our lives, even if it was not an ‘official’ diet such as keto, paleo or whatever the latest celebrities were pushing. Chances are, it meant avoiding foods we really enjoy or not eating as much as we really needed to feel satisfied. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food through either restricting and binging or through developing anxiety or stress around eating in certain situations or around particular foods (carbs anyone?).
Intuitive eating, put simply, is eating according to your body’s cues. It is cultivating a healthy relationship with food that is sustainable and leads to overall well being.
Top tips for eating mindfully and becoming an intuitive eater:
- Don’t view this way of eating as a diet: reject the idea that you need ‘rules’ to regulate your eating.
- Respond to your hunger: give yourself permission to honour your hunger and respond by eating whole nutritious foods.
- Feel your fullness: reconnect your hunger cues. One of the side effects of chronic dieting is losing touch with when you feel full or hungry. Retrain yourself to listen to what your body is telling you. No need to micromanage your body!
- Cope with your emotions: food is often used as a coping mechanism for emotional distress. Try to find other ways to deal with difficult times rather than relying on food.
- Respect your body: unpicking unrealistic beauty standards and accepting your body is an essential part of intuitive eating. Understanding the detrimental effects of negative self-talk or ‘body bashing’ is fundamental to improving your relationship with food.
- Exercise: moving your body in a way that feels good and is enjoyable is a way to reconnect with it. Focusing on the benefits of exercise other than weight loss is a step towards taking care of your body long term.
- Health first: this step focuses on acknowledging that there is no perfect diet. Eat food that nourishes your body and soul, making you feel healthy and happy without dieting.
It isn’t easy to become an intuitive eater and is a process that can take a while as you unlearn certain behaviours and embrace new, healthier ways of thinking about food and eating. It is a more personal way of eating as there are no set ‘rules’ and thus is different for everyone. Why not give it a try?
If you have any questions, do email our nutritionists at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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