Intuitive Eating: Part II

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Last week I discussed what intuitive eating is and how to become more mindful of your eating patterns. This post will summarize the first 3 principles of the main 10 principles of intuitive eating from the book, Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole and how they can lead you to making more intuitive eating choices of your own.

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The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

From the book, Intuitive Eating, 10 principles are established and addressed. They are:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality.
  2. Honor your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect your Body
  9. Exercise – Feel the Difference
  10. Honor your Health

In today’s post, I will discuss the first 3 principles.

Reject the Diet Mentality

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How may times have you or a friend said they are on a diet? It seems at all points in time, we consider ourselves to be on a “diet,” yet as a country we are getting larger, more sick, and unhealthy. It is quite a paradox, as the United States has thousands of articles, magazines, and books written about the latest “diets” yet we still remain the most obese country in the nation.

Dieting works for many, but how many people do you know actually maintain their weight loss? You may slim down for a big event, but how soon after are you back eating what you were eating weeks prior? Diet can work, but they usually do not help with long-term weight maintenance.

Honor Your Hunger

Building on the first principle of rejecting the dieting mentality, honoring your hunger is even more important. It’s so tempting to ignore our hunger cues when we are trying to lose weight. It’s been ingrained in our heads that feeling hungry all the time is how we lose weight. While it is necessary to eat less calories while trying to lose weight, skipping meals and ignoring hunger pains is not. Over the course of time of not listening to our bodies’ cues to eat when we are hungry, we begin to get out of touch with our internal hunger cues which leads to not only binge eating but also lack of knowing if you are actually hungry or not. Many women end up eating way under what they actually need to lose or maintain weight because they believe less calories = faster weight loss.

While I won’t go into the scientific reasons for this in this post, I do encourage you to begin truly listening to when you are hungry. If you are – rate it. Is it a 1? Is it a 2? 3? 4? Quantifying your hunger will allow you go make a meal/snack decision that will allow you to achieve the level of fullness you are going for. If you are at a 1 (starving), I encourage you to take a step back, slow down, and eliminate distractions as it is very easy to overeat when you are starving. Read my previous post on how to rate your hunger.

It is a process of trusting your body that can be very difficult for many women. This process even took me years to master. Forget the rules of eating after 7pm or not eating carbs after 4pm. Your body does not know what time it is or what state you’re in or what color shoes you are wearing. It simply knows that is hungry at that point in time. Nurture your hunger and trust it instead of running away from it. Your body naturally balances itself out all the time in an effort to keep homeostasis (AKA keep itself stable), including maintaining your weight. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, the goal is to eat until you are at a 5-6 (~satisfied or neither hungry or full) as this will put your slightly lower than maintenance.

Make Peace With Food

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It’s common for most of us to label foods as good or bad. We’ve done it for years. Oreos are “bad” and sweet potatoes are “good.” Over time, without us knowing, we start looking at foods as good or bad rather than as a food. While we know it is important for us to eat more nutrient dense foods, intuitive eating removes labels of good or bad.

How many times have you been at the store on a “diet” and saw a box of donuts and said, “No, I can’t have that – I’m on a diet.” Then Saturday hits and you’re at the store again and you’re hungry. You buy the donuts and eat six all in an evening. And the cycle continues. I admit, that I, like many others, have done this! I stayed up many nights wondering, “Why did I do that?” I felt guilty and gross. I couldn’t understand why I would sabotage my “diet” when I had been good all week. Didn’t I have self-control?

I realized it wasn’t because I didn’t have self-control. It was because I had told myself that was a “restricted food.” I told myself donuts were bad. But going back to principle #1 (reject the diet mentality), I began to understand that labeling foods was hurting me more than benefiting me.

In order to come to terms with this – one day I bought a box of Oreos (they’re my favorite). I ate as many as I wanted that day without caring about a single calorie. I ate them all weekend until they were gone. Then what’d I do after that? I bought another box and continued doing the same thing. After I ate more Oreos than I probably have ever eaten in my entire life, I proved something to myself mentally that I needed and desperately have been trying to reach for years: Oreos will always be there. Meaning, I could have Oreos whenever I wanted. They were now not a “bad” or “restricted” food. They were simply….food.

It sounds like a strange experiment, but after eating Oreos for a couple weeks straight, I began to understand that food will always be there – whether I am hungry or not. I can buy Oreos whenever I want. I can eat them whenever I want. And that really resonated with me. I was no longer held prisoner to food. Instead, I knew Oreos would always be there when I wanted it, and this made me mentally stop wanting Oreos.

Doing this experiment once made me finally realize that food is simply…food. It is fuel. It is calories. And while Oreos are not the most nutrient dense food, they are not “bad.” They are not evil. They are what they are, and they will always be at my local grocery store and I can eat them whenever I want. Knowing that made me want foods I had craved for years way less. Thus, fixing your mentality of how your view food can affect your weight and your health!

Stayed tuned next week for my next post on the next 3 principles of Intuitive Eating. I hope you’ve found this information helpful to start your own journey to changing your perspective on food and embracing a healthier mindset. If you are interested in getting your own copy of Intuitive Eating, you can find it here.

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