How to use the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating
Let’s face it. Juggling the expectations of career, family, friends and all life throws at you can take a toll. Often the first thing to go is taking care of your own health, including your eating habits. Here’s where the 10 principles of intuitive eating come in.
You’re trying to be everything to everyone and you lose sight of the most critical piece, YOU.
As flight attendants always tell us in the pre-flight ritual, you must put your own oxygen mask on first in order to help everyone else. In the rat race of life, sometimes we reach for quick, easy fixes and forget to take time to listen to our inner selves, which can lead to over/under eating, lack of physical and mindful activity and general decline in wellbeing.
You may also be more focused on your body appearance than how healthy, energetic and happy you feel. This post highlights the 10 principles of intuitive eating that make up the basic framework that can help you achieve peace with food and your body.
What is Intuitive Eating?
For so many of you, it’s not just one factor that contributes to a pattern or habit of a bad relationship with food, whether it is under/overeating because of anxiety or stress or you’re trapped in the perpetual cycle of diets. Since so many factors contribute to your health, the 10 principles help you with simple easy to understand concepts.
The Intuitive Eating evidence framework developed by two Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole, and Elyse Resch, seeks to provide a way of eating that helps you become comfortable in your own body, getting back to your roots and trusting your body and your hunger signals.
What are the benefits of the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating?
For some, the 10 principles of the intuitive eating program help them lose weight, and for those and others, they also achieve a healthy relationship with their bodies and food. Some of this depends on your current eating and physical activity habits.
What are the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating?
1. Reject the diet mentality:
Free yourself from the endless cycle of diet books and popular diets that promise a false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently. By tuning out those diet messages, you can begin to see that what you need is a life-lasting change in habits and eating behaviors.
2. Honor your hunger:
Responding to hunger cues by feeding your body with adequate carbohydrates, fat and protein so that you don’t experience those hunger pangs that drive you to eat without regard to how hungry you actually are.
3. Make peace with food:
Remove the labels you put on certain foods and give yourself unconditional permission to eat any foods that you want. Putting a restrictive label on a food only makes you want it more and then this might not only result in overeating, but feelings of guilt.
4. Challenge the food police:
Challenge those negative feelings that you have when you eat a “forbidden” food. Those internal scoldings have developed over time from the diet culture messages and you need to tune those out in order to build healthier habits.
5. Feel your fullness:
Listen to your body’s cues that signal you are no longer hungry. Take time when you’re eating to ask yourself how the food tastes, and how full you feel. This may mean you don’t finish your whole meal.
6. Discover the satisfaction factor:
Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy your eating experience through your five senses, so much of the satisfaction derived from eating is in the experience itself.
7. Cope with your emotions without using food:
As mentioned earlier, anxiety, stress, loneliness and boredom often cause you to seek out food as a short term fix. However, it may only provide comfort in the short term. It won’t solve your problems, you’ll need to find other approaches that will provide you long lasting solutions.
8. Respect your body:
Recognize that you might be unrealistic and over critical of your body shape. Accept your genetic make up. Your body is beautiful in the size it is intended to be.
9. Exercise, feel the difference:
Find ways to be active and feel the difference in your body, mood and energy. This could be walking, gardening, playing with your kids. It doesn’t require you hitting the gym or loading weights, but you could if that’s what makes you feel good.
10. Honor your health, gentle nutrition:
Understand that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. Rely on your hunger cues, senses to move in the direction of Intuitive Eating. One day, one meal does not define your success.
In future posts we’ll explore the connection between mindful eating and intuitive eating. For more information you can check out the Intuitive Eating book.