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What is Intuitive Eating?

Have you ever watched a toddler eat?

It can be frustrating that they didn’t finish their lunch and then asked for a snack a ½ hour later. They can be bottomless pits one day and barely eat anything the next.

But the thing that we can learn from kids is that we were all intuitive eaters once.

As we age, we learn that we should finish everything on our plates and if we do – there will be dessert! We are bombarded with information on good and bad foods. Foods that we should feel guilty for eating and foods that we should be rewarded for eating.

Intuitive Eating promotes trusting your body’s inner wisdom to make choices about food that makes you feel good. It removes judgement associated with diet culture and strict food rules. Created by two dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating emphasizes self-care eating while integrating instinct, emotion and rational thought.

To connect to your body’s inner wisdom around eating, you need to rebuild your awareness of your hunger and fullness cues. For many, they have been overriding these cues for so long that they no longer notice their presence.

While Jan Chozen Bays, has identified several types of hunger there are two overall categories that need to be addressed:

  1. Physical Hunger: which is the biological urge that tells you to consume food for energy. It builds gradually over time and has physical symptoms like hangry, growling stomach, fatigue, or headaches. Physical hunger symptoms are alleviated by consuming any food.

  2. Emotional hunger: which is motivated by a need to suppress or numb a specific emotion. It may be elicited by shame, sadness, loneliness, boredom, anger, anxious or happiness. Eating does not solve emotional hunger and typically ends in a perpetual cycle of guilt and shame around food choices and body image.

Because Intuitive Eating is about re-connecting with your hunger cues it allows you to rely on your own internal hunger & satiety cues. As a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, I do believe there needs to be some education on nutritional choices because intuitive eating is not a free-for-all. It is about providing your body with the proper nutrients that it needs to function optimally.

You can increase your satiety from a meal by balancing out the three macronutrients – protein, carbs and fat. If your meal only contains 1 of the three I guarantee that you won’t feel as satisfied.

what is intuitive eating?

The 10 principles of intuitive eating as outlined by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch are:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality if it’s super restrictive an unrealistic let it go. A “diet” is not going to promote long term health – either physical or mental.

  2. Honour Your Hunger – listen to your physical hunger cues to ensure you are biologically satisfied. You need to have adequate energy in order to get throughout your day.

  3. Make Peace with Food – give yourself permission to enjoy the food that you choose. Leave the guilt at home (it wasn’t helping you anyway).

  4. Challenge the Food Police – notice your judgemental thoughts that surface and reframe them. You are not good for overly restricting calories and you are not bad for eating a cookie.

  5. Respect Your Fullness - Rate your hunger. If 1 is stomach growling hunger where you may also feel dizzy or weak and 10 is 150% stuffed from thanksgiving dinner that its so uncomfortable that you almost feel sick. I suggest eating when you’re a 3-4 on the hunger scale. And stop eating when your 5-6 or 80% full. If you wait until you’re at a hunger level of a 1-2 then that can lead to overeating because at that stage you’re ravenous.

  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor – bring pleasure into your dining experience. Use the fancy china, plate your food so it is visually appealing and eat in a calm relaxed state at the table without your phone!

  7. Honour Your Feelings without Using Food – eating in response to an emotion is not honouring it, it’s numbing it. Can you recognize and bring awareness to situations that you do this in? Because food hasn’t solved anyone’s problems (unless its physical hunger!) Close your eyes and take 6 deep breaths and witness the emotion in your body.

  8. Respect Your Body – are you taking care of your body? Think of what your body needs physically, mentally and emotionally. Or the 4 pillars of self-care: nutrition, movement, sleep and connection.

  9. Movement—Feel the Difference – move your body out of joy. What movement makes you feel really good? Go do that!

  10. Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition – Choose foods that energize you and make you feel good in your body more of the time. Pay attention to how your body responds to different foods and get curious. Intuitive eating includes having an awareness of which foods are supporting your body and which maybe are not.

As a nutrition coach, I guide people like you in finding which foods their body truly desires, I help them re-connect to their hunger cues, and develop a healthy & joyful relationship with food. I would love to invite you to book a free 30-minute consultation so that I can learn more about where you're at so I can give you the best guidance possible. Click here to book your FREE session today!

What to do next...

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