Intuitive Eating: Being Mindful With Our Health

kids with paper lunch bags

Intuitive Eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight rather than counting calories, fat, and carbs. Dieting is a short term strategy that involves depriving ourselves of nutrition and the healthy pleasures of eating. I frequently remind my clients that “food is fuel.” Learning to enjoy food is part of recovering from an unhealthy relationship with it. Paying attention to what we eat while we eat it is a simple mindfulness practice—savor the flavor.

Here are ten golden tips from the book Intuitive Eating that can help women and men who struggle with food.

Intuitive Eating Principles

Reject the Diet Mentality:

Avoid fad diets that cause you to feel like a failure. Most often they stop working and you gained back the initial weight.

Honor Your Hunger:

Keep your body fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Learning to listen to your body and recognize hunger cues lays a foundation of trust within your system.

Make Peace with Food:

Make peace with your body. It is okay to eat! Excessive food rules set you up for failure. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and bingeing.

Challenge the Food Police:

Say NO to the old paradigm that says you’re “good” for restricting calories or “bad” because you ate bread. It’s important to start challenging these unhelpful beliefs.

Respect Your Fullness:

Listen to your body. Observe the signs that express hunger and those that tell you you’re comfortably full. Learn to trust your body.

Discover the Satisfaction Factor:

The Japanese promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy eating. However, we often overlook the sensory pleasure of a good meal. When you eat what you really want, you will be less prone to overeat.

Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food:

Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Everyone experiences their own triggers for anxiety, irritation, and loneliness. Restricting your food intake or binging will only make you feel worse.

Respect Your Body:

People come in all shapes and sizes. Most people criticize some aspect of how they look. This doesn’t make it okay; it just shows us that we aren’t alone.

Exercise – Feel the Difference:

Shift your focus from burning calories to how it feels to move your body. This is another way of listening to yourself. Practice yoga and other types of mindful movement.

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition:

Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. Being overly fixated on weight gain from one meal or dessert is a waste of time—and unnecessary. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters.

Leslie Carr, RD, LDN is Nutrition Director of Residential Services at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders located off of Houston Levy Road in Cordova, Tennessee.

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