If you are one of those people who has always had trouble maintaining a healthy weight – you are most likely also one of those people who has tried many different diets. And yet, none of them have worked.
This can be incredibly frustrating, disheartening, and discouraging. We at Cohesive Therapy NYC understand how challenging this process can be and believe that practicing intuitive eating can help you.
Maybe none of these diets have worked because they are too restrictive, too hard to commit to over a long period a time, or too time-consuming.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Simply put, intuitive eating is about listening to what our bodies need, without focusing on how much we should be controlling our eating habits. It is the practice of eating mindfully and without guilt or restrictions. There is no counting of calories or eliminating certain foods from our diet. It is simply a commonsense approach to eating and living well that involves balancing what our body needs and craves, without worrying about the nutrition facts.
Our culture puts a lot of pressure on counting calories, constantly regulating what we allow ourselves to eat, and avoiding certain foods that are deemed to be “unhealthy”. With these societal influences, it may be tough to even imagine a way of eating that doesn’t work this way, and it can be hard to believe that a person can lose and/or maintain a healthy weight with this approach.
The reason why intuitive eating can be something worth trying out is because, rather than listening to your mind, you are listening to your body. Through learning what your body needs to get through the day and support your activities, you can respond by providing the type and amount of food that it needs. When you listen to your mind, which often tells you to restrict and deny yourself certain foods in an effort to lose or maintain your weight, you are ignoring the signs from your body about what it actually requires.
Basic principles of intuitive eating:
It is NOT a Diet
Diets simply don’t work because they are not sustainable. As I’m sure you know all too well, it is just unrealistic to constantly restrict yourself. So the very first principle of intuitive eating is to completely throw away the idea of dieting. Instead, the focus is on balance, moderation, and giving your body what it needs.
Eat When You’re Hungry
Diets don’t work because they typically leave the person feeling deprived and hungry. This, in turn, usually triggers overeating and makes diets difficult to keep up with on a long term basis.
Intuitive eating relies on listening to your body’s hunger cues. There will be a bit of trial and error at the beginning, as this is a new way of eating for most people, but once you begin to recognize your body’s hunger signals, it becomes easier and easier to trust your instincts and rebuild your relationship with food.
Respect Your Fullness
The first step to eating intuitively is to eat only when you are hungry. This means not eating when you are sad, stressed, happy, bored, etc. This can be a tough change for many people, but it is a huge part of learning how to use food for its actual purpose, which is to sustain us.
The second step is to respect your stomach when it tells you it’s full. Eating slowly and chewing your food well will help you to stop eating when those fullness signals begin. It takes time to get to know your body in this way, so be patient with this process and know that it takes practice to understand what your body needs.
Many of us eat as if it’s a chore. We get hungry, we warm up food, and then we scarf it down as if we are in a race. Or sometimes we eat because it provides some comfort, a distraction, or serves as part of a social activity. Remember, we want to completely rebuild our relationship with food. We want to respect the food we put into our body. Taste it, feel the texture in your mouth, notice how it makes you feel. Think about all of the work that went into producing this food and getting it to your plate. Appreciate the pleasure it gives you.
These are only some of the principles of intuitive eating, but they give you an idea of why this way of eating works so well, and why it is an approach that people can actually stick with. I encourage you to do a bit more research into this lifestyle and then try it for yourself. This may very well be the thing that helps you shed those unwanted pounds and keep them off for good, as well as improve the way you interact with food.