There’s a non-diet approach to eating that has recently emerged and gaining popularity: Intuitive Eating. But what exactly is it and how do you know if it will benefit you? Here are 2 key things to ask.
As a response to the diet culture we are constantly inundated with, Intuitive Eating has emerged as the polar opposite of dieting. Rather than controlling the size of your body through calorie restriction, Intuitive Eating uses your body’s hunger and fullness signals as an indicator of when and how much to eat. It is not a restrictive diet but a journey that creates stability in your weight and health.
Above all, becoming an intuitive eater can be empowering and can help us discover our innate ability to just eat normally.
You may think this all sounds amazing, but is Intuitive Eating really right for you? The truth is, everyone inherently knows how to eat intuitively. So the question really is, are you out of touch with your body’s natural eating patterns and needs?
The first step is to ask yourself, what does healthy mean to you?
If your answer includes any of the following, then you may have a disordered mindset around food and health:
- Being a specific size or weight
- Eliminating food groups
- Calorie counting or tracking your food
- Avoiding specific foods unless you “deserve” them
- Moving your body to make up for the food you ate
- Feelings of guilt around food
None of these are indicators for health and, over time, can actually lead to disordered behaviors.
Next, ask yourself, what do you think “normal” eating looks like?
Do you have feelings of inadequacy or the need for compensation during meal times? Do you think eating requires restriction around specific food groups or limited times in the day? Do you find yourself questioning whether you are truly hungry or full?
If you found the previous two questions challenging to answer and you no longer want to be negatively impacted by a tumultuous relationship with food, then Intuitive Eating is right for you.
It begins by reshaping what you consider what healthy means to you, such as:
- Having more energy
- Moving your body in a way that feels good
- Eating a variety of foods multiple times a day
- Having good self-esteem and a stable body weight
Begin to understand that normal eating does not include feelings of guilt or shame, nor should you feel the need to compensate for what you have eaten. Start to identify the diet mentality in yourself and others, and have confidence in your own eating choices. As an intuitive eater, you will identify when you are hungry or full, and what you are hungry for. You can eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, and include all 3 necessary macronutrients at each meal.
Intuitive Eating is not meant to be used as another dieting tactic. No matter what size you are currently at, freedom from food rules and rigidity to achieve a stable weight is attainable.
It is a journey many embark on to do just the opposite so they may regain their freedom from food rules.
If you are currently suffering from disordered eating, meet with a dietitian or disordered eating professional to determine if you are at a place in your recovery where intuitive eating is appropriate for you.
Haley Goodrich, RD, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Pittsburgh, PA inspiring others to have a healthy relationship with food. Specializing in disordered eating, intuitive eating, and GI disorders, Haley’s mission is to show that healthy doesn’t have to be restrictive or defined by how you compare to others. To stay inspired to be your healthiest you, visit Haley at INSPIRD Nutrition.