What is Intuitive Eating and will it work for you?
Avril Rowerdink, RDN, LDN, CES shares some useful insights into this approach to healthy eating.
Simply put, Intuitive Eating is being in tune with your internal cues about what, when, and how much to eat (such as feelings of hunger, fullness, satisfaction, emotion, energy) and shifting away from external cues (such as weight on the scale, body image, dietary restrictions). The result? Increased satisfaction (both with food and with your body) and decreased feelings of guilt related to eating. Intuitive Eating, an approach developed by Registered Dietitians Eveyln Tribole and Elyse Resch, is about creating a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body.
How does it work?
Eating intuitively involves removing the emotional power of food and trusting your body to make eating decisions. Sounds refreshing, right? As refreshing and deceptively simple as it sounds, there are many external influences on eating behavior that we face in our environment, and wrapping our heads around these Intuitive Eating concepts takes time. It requires retraining our brains to do what we knew how to do at birth: eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. While Intuitive Eating is not a weight-loss method, I have seen several of my patients have an easier time with weight management by eating intuitively. More importantly, they feel better, more satisfied, more in control, less restricted, and ultimately less focused on the scale. Additionally, and even more importantly, they see improvements in health markers, such as better blood sugar or blood pressure control. Because of all of this, they are motivated to continue to make eating decisions that nourish their body and mind; that makes them feel good both physically and emotionally.
How can I give this mindset a try?
While there are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating, I thought I would share my favorite two principles here to help get you thinking. Stay tuned for future blogs about the rest of the tenets.
Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police. Recognize that you are not a “good” person for perfectly following a meal plan and you are not a “bad” person for eating jellybeans. Acknowledging this principle gives you the freedom to experiment with food decisions and ultimately to find options that nourish and fuel your body.
Principle 10: Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition. One meal or even one day of eating will not cause a nutrient deficiency or appreciable weight gain. This is a great reminder that the food and physical activity decisions we make consistently over time are the ones that matter the most. Approaching food decisions with curiosity and compassion helps us to understand what motivates our choices, and to land on a consistent pattern of eating.
I believe that both of these principles help to reduce guilt related to food decisions. Guilt implies having done something wrong or bad, which can lead to negative self-talk and trigger a cycle of continuing the behavior that made you feel guilty in the first place (ex. “I have already blown it by eating ½ a pint of ice cream so I might as well finish it”), restarting the cycle of guilty feelings! Guilt does not encourage positive behavior change; in fact, it blocks it. Learning how to break this cycle is an inherent part of learning how to eat intuitively. We’ll talk more about behavior change and habit loops in a future post.
Any of the Registered Dietitians in our practice can help you learn more about Intuitive Eating and how to begin to adopt it.
And finally, I offer you a mantra I relay to my patients quite often: “progress, not perfection”.
Our Dietitians/ Nutritionists are here to help you
We are here to help you and our office is open for both telehealth and in-person visits, for existing patients and new patients. What you choose to eat is an essential contributor to your health. Let us help you to get on track and find a suitable individualized approach to help you to stay healthy.
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Yours in health and wellness,
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