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What Is Intuitive Eating? A Nutritionist Weighs In On This Popular Anti-Diet

Make peace with food

Give yourself “unconditional permission to eat.”

People realize they don’t really want that food that was forbidden before; they just got caught up in society telling them they couldn’t have it.

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What Is Intuitive Eating? A Nutritionist Weighs In On This Popular Anti-Diet

What Is Intuitive Eating? A Nutritionist Weighs In On This Popular Anti-Diet

https://www.health.com/nutrition/intuitive-eating

health.com

10

Key Ideas

Reject the diet mentality

Dieting isn’t sustainable. Quick-fix plans cannot deliver lasting results.
T
he first principle of intuitive eating is to stop dieting—and to stop believing society’s messages that quick-fix plans can deliver lasting results. 

Honor your hunger

Eat a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates to keep your body “fed” and satiated. Once you learn to recognize these signals in your own body, it becomes much easier to trust your instincts and repair unhealthy relationships with food.

Challenge the food police

The “food police” are those voices in your head that tell you it’s good to eat fewer calories and it’s bad to eat dessert. The food police can be real people too. 

 “Chasing them away” is an important step in embracing intuitive eating.

Respect your fullness

It can help to pause in the middle of your meal or snack to assess your current state: How full do you feel? Are you still eating to feed your hunger, or are you eating out of distraction, boredom, or stress? 

Discover the satisfaction factor

The satisfaction factor has to do with noticing and appreciating the taste and texture of food, but also the environment in which you’re eating. 

When you can bring the pleasure and joy back to eating, you can truly feel satisfied after a meal and move on and enjoy the rest of your life, rather than continue to eat for other reasons.

Honor your feelings without using food

It’s not always big, extreme emotions that are causing .  Sometimes it’s as mundane as being bored because you’re eating while distracted.
But being more mindful in all aspects of life—with your food and with your emotions—can help you sort out those overlaps.

Respect your body

Intuitive eating is also about feeling good about your “genetic blueprint” and the body you were meant to have—not striving for unrealistic expectations about how much weight you can lose or what size jeans you can squeeze into.

Exercise: Feel the difference

You don’t have to go to the gym every day while following an intuitive eating approach, but it is important to move your body on a regular basis.
It’s not about finding the exercise that burns the most calories or the most fat. It’s about finding something that’s sustainable and that you enjoy.

Honor your health with gentle nutrition

Eating “intuitively” should still involve more fruits and veggies than ice cream. But at the same time, a diet doesn’t have to be perfect to be healthy, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up every time you make a less-than-perfect meal or snack choice.

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Intuitive eating

Intuitive eating involves coming to peace with your body’s needs, letting go of the guilt associated with eating and ending the struggle of rules.

Intuitive eating and mindful eating

With mindful eating, there is no explicit rejection of dieting. 

Intuitive eating rejects the diet mentality altogether—that’s the biggest difference.

Principles of intuitive eating
  • Honor your hunger. Reject the diet mentality, make peace with food and challenge the food police.
  • The act of eating. Respect your fullness, and discover the food delight factor.
  • The emotion of eating. Honor your feelings without using food, and respect your body.
  • Exercise—feel the difference.
  • Honor your health.

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Intuitive eating

It is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals.

Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t impose guidelines about wha...

The basics

To eat intuitively, you may need to relearn how to trust your body. Distinguish between physical and emotional hunger:

  • Physical hunger. This biological urge tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability. 
  • Emotional hunger. This is driven by emotional need. Sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create cravings for food, often comfort foods. 
History of intuitive eating

Some of the concepts of intuitive eating have been around at least since the early 1970s, though the term wasn’t coined until 1995.

The program was built on the principle that diets don’t work and that lifestyle changes and personal care are more important for long-term health.

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Intuitive eating

This is not a diet. Intuitive eating is an approach to health and food that emphasizes learning to give your body what it needs.

It doesn't involve rules related to how or w...

Quiet your inner food police

Recognize and silence your inner critic.

An example of your inner food police: if you're scanning a restaurant menu and you catch yourself saying "That’s not healthy. That’s too many servings. That’s too high fat, " that voice is not yours, although it feels like it. It's only fueled by external messaging.

Stop moralizing

Food isn’t good or bad. Don't fall for this 'black or white' way of thinking.

Health and nutrition exist on a gradient. Keeping your health in mind when making food choices is totally in line with intuitive eating, but being rigid about healthy eating isn’t.

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