If you’ve been on a diet for years, can you imagine letting your body decide for itself what and how much you eat, instead of letting the rules of the diet guide you? For many, the thought of doing this may seem daunting.
After all, if you let your body decide, what if it chooses to eat donuts, ice cream and chips all day? What if he decides he wants to overeat all the time? If you can fully embrace intuitive eating, you’ll likely find the opposite.
Learn to listen to your body!
Intuitive eating is an approach to eating that encourages you to listen to your body and its internal hunger cues. It is different from a restrictive diet that ignores these natural signals. The focus is not on the scale, but on health-promoting behaviors, such as improving body image and your relationship with food.
Often, either because of a history of restrictive dieting or under the pressure of dieting culture, we have lost touch with our ability to recognize true signals of hunger and fullness.
Intuitive eating teaches you to relearn these natural signals so you can find a balanced and enjoyable way to eat without guilt. Studies have shown that practicing this approach improves physical and mental health.
The intuitive eating approach is based on 8 fundamental principles. These principles are:
Reject the regime mentality.
Research proves that restrictive diets don’t work. Sure, you can lose weight in the short term, but chances are you’ll gain it back, or even more, within 5 years.
In fact, in the long term, losing and then gaining weight back can cause you more physical and mental harm than the short-term benefits you may have received. Reject the idea that you have no willpower or that you have “failed” when you have not been able to diet or have gained weight afterwards.
Respect your hunger.
Hunger is a normal process, not something you should ignore or fear. This intuitive diet focuses on learning how to nourish your body throughout the day with nourishing foods.
If you’ve ever ignored your hunger, you’ll likely find that your cravings or risk of binge eating increases. When you ignore what your body is telling you, it reacts to protect you by increasing hunger.
Make peace with food.
It means allowing yourself to eat foods that were previously forbidden to you. If you’ve ever told yourself that you can’t eat certain foods because of your diet, you’ve probably found that you crave those foods even more. This leads to a cycle of restriction and binge eating.
Challenge the food police.
Question the messages around you and the voices in your head telling you that you are “bad” to eat certain foods or “good” to avoid others. This way of thinking associates your moral worth with your food choices. Instead, remember that no one food will make or break your health, and all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. The food police can also be outside voices that make you feel like you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat a certain way.
Feel your satiety.
Diets tell us to eat at certain times and don’t always take into account our actual hunger and satiety. Take your time when eating and really listen to your body. This way, you’ll be able to recognize when you’re starting to feel full.
Discover the satisfaction factor.
The satisfaction factor is when you fully enjoy what you eat and savor it, guilt-free. It is possible to feel physically full, but not satisfied. If you experience negative feelings, such as guilt or shame, when you eat certain foods, you will be less satisfied and more likely to crave other foods later.
Manage your emotions without resorting to food.
We often eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat out of boredom, stress, anxiety, depression, or even to pass the time. The first step is to acknowledge it, without guilt or shame. The second step is to learn healthier coping strategies to replace these habits, so that you no longer use food as a crutch.
Respect your body.
Treat your body with respect and be proud of it. Turn off the inner voices that criticize your body and learn to accept it as it is. We’re all born different shapes and sizes, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Once you have developed a more positive body image, you will be able to reject the diet mentality with greater ease.
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