‘Ditch the Diet mentality and Eat Intuitively’ a phrase we hear a lot lately…but what does it mean exactly? The simple definition of intuitive eating is “Eat when you are hungry, Stop when you are full” and its essence revolves around helping people establish a healthy relationship with food
Sounds simple right? Its ten core principles include:
I. Reject the Diet Mentality
Fad diets, quick fixes and magic pills don’t work and are not permanent solutions. The dieting cycle is a hard one to get out of and generally restricting calories leads to increased cravings which down the line causes binge eating and feelings of guilt and failure. Most often than not, people generally gain back the weight they’ve lost, if not more
Diets give you rules about what you should and should not eat, we believe no food is off limits when you are eating mindfully and in moderation
II. Honor Your Hunger
Don’t starve yourself! We all overeat when we are too hungry and most often end up making poor food choices. Nourish your body by tuning in to mild hunger cues and keep your body biologically fed with wholesome food that contain all five food groups (complex carbohydrates, lean protein, dairy, vegetables and fruits)
Getting home after a long day of work starving is a recipe for disaster! Most often you end up arriving straight to the fridge or order the fastest option available; we always try to make sure we have a small snack between meals and never miss lunch no matter how hectic the day is!
III. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Deprivation only builds uncontrollable cravings which leads to overeating and causes overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame
Our motto when it comes to food is simple. Everything is allowed…in moderation!
IV. Challenge the Food Police
Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that judge you for how much you eat and what you eat. Avoid labeling food as good or bad and don’t demonize certain food groups! Keep in mind deprivation only leads to bingeing
We still often find ourselves in situations justifying what we are eating by labeling it as a “cheat meal” or a “no diet day” until we realize to stop and enjoy the meal we are having without feeling guilty or ashamed. “Life is way to short to spend another day at war with yourself”
V. Respect Your Fullness
Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Eat slowly and consciously, put your fork down between bites and pause when you are half way through to check in with your body. Remember it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach to send a signal to your brain to tell you if you are full, so take your time and savor the food
We’ve always advised people to train themselves on mindful eating by putting a timer next to them during meals and make sure their meal doesn’t take less than twenty minutes. It takes practice but with time, eating slowly becomes a habit!
VI. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Savor your food and use all your five senses to enjoy it. There’s so much pleasure and satisfaction that can be derived from an eating experience especially when you take the time to sit and enjoy the meal in an inviting environment and most importantly eat what you really feel like!
When we order takeout, we always make it a point to plate our food in dishes and eat with proper forks and knives rather than eat out of plastic containers and cutlery. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”
VII. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
We all, at some point, emotionally eat and find comfort in food. Food is used to feed emotions of stress, sadness, loneliness, boredom, and anger. Emotional eating might make you feel better in the moment however will make you feel ultimately worse. It’s important to deal with the source of the emotion and find other ways to comfort yourself such as a hot bath, a massage, reading a book, going for a walk, meditating or calling a friend
We are big believers of the quote “food is the most abused anxiety drug and exercise is the most under-utilized anti-depressant”
VIII. Respect Your Body
Respect and love your body, accept your genetic blueprint. There’s no one size fits all and it is important to set realistic goals that are unique to you. Practice self-love, don’t be too hard on yourself or overly critical about your body shape
Your words and thoughts are very powerful and can have a tremendous impact on your self-esteem and body image. Be kind with your words and positive with your thoughts.
Get active by doing things you enjoy! Focus on how exercising your muscles and moving your body makes you feel rather than how many calories are burnt or how much weight you are losing
We get it, finding time for exercise is sometimes difficult, but little things also make a huge difference. We generally do walks on the beach, go for walking meeting and take the stairs instead of the elevator to make sure we stay active
X, Honor Your Health
Food is medicine and good nutrition nourishes your body, mind and soul! Make smart food choices that will honor your health and taste buds! Be flexible with your diet, eat a variety and remember it doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be healthy.
As a final recap to what intuitive eating is all about:
- Focus on intrinsic eating (respecting hunger cues) most often
- Eat extrinsically occasionally (based on mood or social situation)
- Reject the diet mentality
- Practice self-care and body acceptance
To dig deeper into intuitive eating and its principles, check out the book Intuitive Eating written by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyze Resch who call their approach a “180-degree departure from dieting”.