Fundamental Principles Of Intuitive Eating

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What is intuitive eating?

Simply put, intuitive eating is a framework about learning to become the “master chef” of your own body. It focuses on trusting your inner wisdom to make food choices that feel good in your body without judgment or health culture influence.

The main philosophy behind this way of eating is to “honour your hunger” by forgetting about calorie counting and instead cue in on your hunger and fullness by taking time throughout the day to check in with your body and asking yourself how hungry or full you feel.

The concept of intuitive eating was first introduced in a book by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. The book centred around listening to your body and ditching diets.

“Contrary to some belief, intuitive eating was never intended to be a weight-loss diet. Rather, it was about improving the relationship we have with food. It is about learning to eat mindfully and without guilt, and rejecting any meal plans that dictate what or how much you can eat,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health

Seven basic principles of intuitive eating 

Based on what research suggests, Affinity Health recommends the following when considering intuitive eating:

Understand what intuitive eating is:

Firstly, don’t deny that different foods have different nutritional benefits, or aim to tear down public-health initiatives that tell you fatty foods and too much sugar is unhealthy. Instead, understand how food makes your body feel when the act of eating is untangled from stress or shame.

Stop crash dieting:

The first principle of intuitive eating is to stop dieting and to stop believing society’s messages that quick-fix plans can deliver lasting results.

Listen to your body:

Honour your hunger and your satisfaction. When your body signals it’s hungry, eat. When your body signals it is full, stop eating.

No food is forbidden:

Forget the stigmatisation that certain foods are “allowed” and others are “forbidden”. No food is prohibited. Instead, be mindful of eating everything in moderation.

Eat what you enjoy:

Call a truce; stop the food fight! Choose foods that make you feel good and that you enjoy.

Choose physical activities you enjoy:

Instead of looking at fitness as something you have to do, look for ways of movement that you enjoy. What kind of exercise makes you feel good?

Make peace with food:

Food is not your enemy. Shift your mindset to stop associating food with “feast” or “famine”. With intuitive eating, reframing food as the enemy into something neutral is an essential shift toward having a healthier relationship with eating and your body.