For most of us, the word “diet” sends shivers down our spines. It means hunger, self-control stretched to a breaking point, and ultimately, unavoidable failure. It's a general belief that if you’re not suffering, your diet isn’t working.
If you’re approaching weight loss with this mentality, you’ve already lost.
Losing weight is difficult, and sticking to a strict diet can make eating well much more difficult than it needs to be. Additionally, a strict diet plan can lead to unsustainable weight loss methods. In fact, more and more people are rejecting traditional diet plans in favor of more modern and sustainable options.
One popular option is intuitive eating. You might have heard this word knocking around on the internet, but what does it mean? Is intuitive eating a feasible weight loss plan? How can you apply intuitive eating successfully to your life and schedule? Let’s find out.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
The key principle of intuitive eating is peace. You make peace with food and with your own body.
In a world of obsessive fad diets, revolving around chasing a perfect, unattainable silhouette, it’s easy to lose sight of an important fact. Our body knows exactly what it needs and when. Unfortunately, many of us are completely out of touch with what our bodies are telling us. In our minds, weight loss equals restriction and discomfort.
There is another way. Intuitive eating offers a more natural, personal way of weight loss. Simply put, you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. If you’re craving something, it’s likely because your body is lacking something.
Intuitive Eating vs Dieting
Traditional diets work around restrictions. You may even have to eliminate certain food groups altogether. It divides food into “good” and “bad” categories. For example, a doughnut is “bad” food and should be avoided.
Dividing food into harmful and helpful categories is not a peaceful, respectful way of looking at what you put into your body. Unfortunately, diets often don’t prove effective. Strict eating regimes aren’t sustainable. More often than not, they end in failure. We try again with a different diet, hoping that this one will work.
This kind of serial dieting isn’t good for the body. It doesn’t promote healthy weight loss, and can even lead to eating disorders. It also focuses on the wrong aspect of weight loss - looking a certain way.
Intuitive eating approaches weight loss in a completely different way. Let’s take a look at a few main tenets of intuitive eating.
- Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
When our bodies are working properly, they let us know when it’s time to eat. More importantly, they let us know when it’s time to stop. While individual metabolisms vary, we’ll often feel hungry around three or four times a day: in the morning, at midday, and later on in the afternoon or evening.
Most diets would have us powering through hunger. Intuitive eating tells us to sit down and eat when our body tells us.
- Practice mindful eating.
Of course, eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’ve had enough takes a little discipline and practice. It’s all too easy to eat quickly when we’re hungry and find that we’re far too full and bloated by the end of the meal.
Take your time. Enjoy your food. Savor the meal, and let your body tell you when it’s full. If you’re not sure whether you’re hungry or not, drink a glass of water or some other refreshing beverage. If you’re still hungry after the water, go ahead and eat. Drinking a glass of water before a meal can aid digestion, help you know when you’re full, and keeps you hydrated.
- No food is off-limits.
The freedom to eat what you want is one of the most attractive things about intuitive eating. Restricting certain foods is a recipe for disaster. Knowing you can’t eat something you enjoy is going to make you want to eat it all the more.
Intuitive eating focuses on making peace with food - all food.
- Understand your body and respect it.
Regardless of your body size or shape, or your reasons for losing weight, your body deserves respect. That means that you only put good things into it, but neither do you punish yourself.
We often say things to ourselves that we would never say to our friends - or anyone else, for that matter. Be kind to yourself. Love your body. Healthy weight loss is a wonderful goal, but make sure you have the right reasons.
How to Get Started
The difficulty in intuitive eating is learning to apply the principles to your own life. It might mean tackling emotional eating, which can have us snacking and binge eating when we aren’t really hungry. Our break-neck lifestyles often have us eating quickly, buying cheap junk food and eating it on the go. Eating too quickly means that our fullness doesn’t kick in until it’s too late, and we’ve already overeaten.
Make a conscious effort to slow down and eat mindfully. Planning meals ahead of time is a good idea. Having a delicious, balanced meal to look forward to can build anticipation and encourage a slow enjoyment of your food.
A great place to start with intuitive eating is to keep a food journal. We’re creatures of habit, but first, we need to build that habit.
Getting into an eating plan can take a month or two. In the meantime, a food journal can help you understand your body and your eating habits. With the benefit of all the information, you can get to the bottom of your cravings. You may need to make some tweaks as you go along.
Alternatively, you could try out a drive to masterclass registration. Learning about yourself and your body is crucial to weight loss. Creating a plan that works for you won’t happen overnight, and sometimes we need a helping hand.
Is Intuitive Eating the Meal Plan for You?
Intuitive eating adds freedom and comfort to a weight loss plan, shattering the traditional view of miserable diets.
Intuitive eating isn’t a “lazy” way of dieting. Instead, it offers a more peaceful and sustainable path to weight loss.