We are born as natural intuitive eaters. As babies we cry, eat, and then we’re done until we feel hungry again. As we grow up we are innately able to balance our intake. However, when rules and restrictions are set around food we lose that intuitive ability. We learn to clean our plates. We learn that dessert is a reward or only allowed if earned. We watch others’ behaviors and model our intake and food choices based off of external cues rather than what our body is internally equipped to tell us.
Intuitive eating is an approach to food designed to heal those who come from a history of dieting or restriction. An intuitive eater makes food choices without experiencing guilt, honors hunger, respects fullness, and enjoys the pleasure of eating. Few of us are immune from guilt and judgment regarding our food choices because of the rampant diet culture we live in.
In order to pursue intuitive eating, the first step is to reject the diet mentality and move towards a healthy relationship with food by earning to honor your hunger. Intuitive eating allows people to tune in to inner cues and discover what satisfaction and fullness feel like. Honoring health and taste buds equally is emphasized.
Research on intuitive eating shows that individuals who are able to follow this approach exhibit weight stability, reduced triglycerides, increase in cholesterol, and improvement in overall well-being and self-esteem.
The foundation of intuitive eating is learning what makes your body feel its best. It’s not just about eating what tastes good (although eating satisfying foods is crucial to becoming an intuitive eater.) Intuitive eating also means observing how a food makes you feel physically.
When you stop intentionally restricting calories or carbohydrates or fats, behaviors like bingeing and overeating decrease. When you let go of the pressure to eat a certain way or adhere to a certain plan, stress dramatically decreases and mental health improves significantly.
If you want to learn more about resources or how to start practicing intuitive eating, feel free to email me or stop by and chat next time you see me on campus!
Have a great week – Happy April!
Catherine Beck, MS, RD, LDN