Can you be healthy without dieting? Introducing Intuitive Eating

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Keto, Paleo, vegan, 5-2, low-carbs, low-fat, Atkins, intermittent fasting…diets, diets and more diets.

And whilst most of them work wonders for many of us, there is an increasing number of people who are throwing out the rulebook when it comes to dieting and going for a new, more liberating approach. Allow us to introduce…Intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating means that there are no restrictions on what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. Before you go there, this doesn’t mean eating everything and anything.

Importantly, the goal of intuitive eating is to stop the on-off dieting, the feelings of guilt when it comes to food, and to learn to reconnect with your body’s natural signals. There are no rules as such but there are 10 principles.

Intuitive eating principles

Reject the diet mentality

This is essentially the anti-diet diet. Most diets place massive restrictions on foods and it’s not sustainable. Research shows that dieting can actually cause weight gain. So say goodbye to “quick fixes” and diet myths.

Honour your hunger

Dieting can leave you feeling hungry and deprived which can lead to binging and overeating. With intuitive eating, listen to your body and eat when it tells you too.

Make peace with food

Unlike most diets, with intuitive eating nothing is off limits. Stop saying you can’t have this or that. It’s time for a truce with food.

Challenge the food police

By food police, we mean those negative thoughts that pop into your head after eating “bad” food. Stop labelling foods as “good” or “bad”. If you end up eating a restricted food it’s just going to cause feelings of guilt and shame.

Respect your fullness

Just like honouring your hunger, you need to tune into your body’s signals. Eat when you’re hungry, take your time to enjoy your food, and stop when you’re full. Ditch the habit you learnt as a kid that you need to clear your plate.

Discover the satisfaction factor

Eating food is an experience and you should take the time to make it an enjoyable one. Do your best to avoid eating when you’re in a rush or when you’re distracted — this can make you eat more. Sit down and concentrate on what you’re eating so you can appreciate it.

Honour your feelings without using food

It’s normal to use food as a coping mechanism when you’re trying to deal with negative emotions. Food might be a good short-term fix but it won’t solve the problem. So as well as dealing with negative emotions, you usually also have to deal with the shame and guilt that can come with emotional eating.

Respect your body

Your body does incredible things and a lot of us take it for granted. So stop criticising yourself and respect your body just as it is. This can help you make more logical food choices rather than emotional ones.

Exercise and feel the difference

Ditch the attitude of ‘torching calories’, ‘shredding for summer’, or getting ‘bikini body ready’. Focus on the most important aspects of exercise like keeping you strong and boosting your mood. Your body was made to move so find a way to move it that you enjoy.

Honour your health

Last but not least! While it may not seem like it, intuitive eating does emphasise eating a healthy diet. Pay attention to what makes your body feel good but don’t beat yourself up when you have a not so nutritious meal.

Final point

If you follow a particular diet that you find easy to stick to and it’s working for you, then there’s no reason to change. But if you’re following a diet to quickly lose weight and have a negative relationship with food, it might be time for a change.

Nutrition is complicated and your eating behaviours are influenced by a huge number of things. Throwing out the rule book when it comes to your diet can cause a lot of confusion. And it can take a long time to break eating habits you’ve spent most of your life doing. Give yourself time to change.

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