You’ve heard it before: the “diet mentality” will inevitably lead to perceived failure, guilt, and shame. Fortunately, intuitive eating is not a diet and promotes a healthy relationship with food, our bodies, and our emotions and perception of ourselves.
Intuitive eating is all about embracing the pleasure of eating, living healthfully, and not feeling guilty for our personal food preferences. Gone are the days of comparing our “progress” to that of dogmatic diet promoters and feeling guilty for having a cookie (or three) once in a while.
However, many of us have lost touch with our intuitive cues; therefore, I present a few simple guidelines:
Challenge the “Food Police”
The Food Police exist only in your mind. Those thoughts that tell you to feel bad about eating pizza or that you need to loose X amount of pounds by summer —that is the Food Police. Rebel against them. Instead, if you eat too much and feel super full–take note of that feeling and eat slower next time. There is no need to create anxiety and fear within your own mind. When we begin to remove the unnecessary tracking tools that dictate how to consume, we re-learn how much we actually require to be comfortably full.
The two primary hormones that create feelings of hunger and satiety are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is released upon fasting and before eating, which tells us that we are hungry. After we eat a sufficient amount of food to provide us with fuel, we produce leptin, which controls the fullness factor. Long-term dieting has the ability to negatively affect these hormones, which means we physically lose our hunger and fullness cues. Eating mindfully, slowly, and eating what feels good, can reestablish those cues. It’s quite common to overeat in the beginning stages of intuitive eating, as we start to allow foods back in that may have been “illegal” for years. But as time progresses, we learn that the foods that we’ve restricted aren’t going anywhere and may even lose their forbidden appeal. This is when we start to listen to hunger and fullness cues and eat only as much as required by the body.
Ever notice how much better you feel after a good ol’ sweat? Finding a type of movement that you enjoy is essential to this process, and may even be equally if not more beneficial to the mind as it is to our body. If you hate running but love to dance, don’t force yourself to run–instead, sign up for a dance class or try Zumba. Exercise is meant to be enjoyable, not torturous!
Respect your body
Most importantly, start to show yourself some love. No matter the size or shape of your body, appreciate that it’s where you live–it’s the body that has carried you around for all of these years, and hating it is just plain wrong. This process calls for grace, which removes the self-bashing ritual we enter when we eat too much or skip the gym for a couple of days. Embrace the ability to love yourself more than ever before and you will indeed find a new perspective on life.