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Guide to Intuitive Eating

During this time of uncertainty in our lives when our routines may look different than before, it is easy to get distracted and feel a loss of control – especially around food.

It may be that at this moment you have more time to reflect on positive things such as your life goals, your strengths, and the passion behind what you do in life. However, it may also be a time for many of us to reflect on what we believe to be our own weaknesses, and feel a lack of confidence about ourselves and our bodies.

One thing that can be of help to anyone who may be struggling with control around food and dieting during this time is something called intuitive eating.

 

Table with brunch food and people around it

What is Intuitive Eating

It is allowing your mind to connect with your body to listen to your emotions.

It is relearning the instincts we all have.

It is eating a piece of chocolate because you are craving something sweet.

It is feeling comfortable around food.

It is regaining the confidence to know you can eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.

Instead of being influenced by diet culture, media messages, and the many different factors that may impact our food intake, intuitive eating allows us to recreate the freedom to
regain the connection with our body and our mind (2).

Recent research indicates that intuitive eating is associated with lower rates of disordered eating, less preoccupation with food, less uncontrolled eating, lower rates of depression, lower body fat percentage, and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (1).

 

Person about to eat a burger

3 Things to Gauge While Starting to Eat Intuitively

  1. WHAT to eat: Ask yourself, what am I in the mood for? Do I want something sweet, salty, or savory?
  2. WHEN to eat: Am I really hungry or am I eating out of boredom?
  3. WHEN to STOP eating: Am I satisfied and satiated? Do I feel comfortable with my consumption of food?

 

Woman eating outside

5 Quick Tips to Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality- every food can fit into your diet if you want it to
  2. Practice Self-care- take a morning walk to clear your mind
  3. Honor your Hunger and Cravings- if you feel like eating a piece of chocolate, eat it, just maybe not the whole bar
  4. Social Media Detox – focus on the present moment and what you have to be thankful for
  5. Journal – write down your strengths, goals, and things that give you joy

In this approach to eating, there is no calorie counting or following strict macronutrient numbers, but instead, the focus is on listening to your own internal hunger and satiety cues.

So here is to a new journey of cultivating a healthy relationship with food and your body image.

Here is to freeing yourself of the criticism related to diet culture and giving yourself the respect to live a life where you gain pleasure around food, and you cherish food for all of the nutrients and energy it provides our bodies with to be able to do what we desire every single day.


1. Nutrition Research Reviews (2017), 30, 272–283
2. Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2019). The Intuitive eating workbook: Principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. Brattleboro, VT: Echo Point Books & Media, LLC.

Author: Karli McCarthy
Cal Poly, SLO Nutrition Student
@kale_n_it_karli 

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