Intuitive eating is having a bit of a moment in the health and wellness world. As people begin to recognise that restrictive diets don’t work for most of us in the long term, more and more people are looking for a way to eat that can keep them healthy without any crazy diet rules.
Shoving clean eating firmly to the side, Intuitive Eating is based around a set of principles that puts you back in the driving seat. There aren’t any set rules – so you can’t really do it ‘wrong’, and it strips away all of the food rules and terms we’re so used to – like being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to what we’re eating.
If there aren’t any rules.. what the heck is it? There are a set of 10 principles, each designed to get you more in tune with your own body – recognising your own hunger and fullness signals and figuring out which foods satisfy you. There’s no moral aspect attached to any foods (they’re all equal!) and there’s a big focus on self-care, finding ways to get active that work for you and help with emotional eating.
This goes against the usual diet rules which dictate what and when to eat and can leave people feeling guilty for eating a cookie or missing leg day. For some, this results in a ‘binge-restrict’ cycle – bouncing from one diet to another over the years.
Checking in How’s your relationship with food? Do you always have to eat everything on your plate? Only eat carbs on a workout day? Have to ‘earn’ that doughnut? Where did these ideas come from? Your family? Diets from the past? Magazines? Do they even apply to you? Are they important – are they actually helpful to your health? Some people find it incredibly helpful to take a step back and assess why they eat the way they do.
Hunger and fullness Then there’s the tools that can help you to figure out what and when to eat – after years of dieting, many people lose touch with their own natural hunger and fullness signals. It can take a long time to tune back into them but learning to trust your body again can be super liberating.
But what if I can’t stop eating cake all day? Because it isn’t a diet – you can eat whatever you want… this might be quite a scary prospect! If you’ve not allowed yourself to eat say, pizza for years – then understandably you’re going to want to bury your face in some sexy Brighton sourdough. After a while though, you’ll likely start to get a bit sick of it – trust me!
What about the nutrition bit? Intuitive Eating was developed by dietitians – so don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten about the nutrition bit. Their approach is a bit different; called ‘gentle nutrition’, the idea is to look at nutrition more like self-care. Although this definitely includes food for the soul – it also follows traditional nutrition guidelines of balance, moderation and variety. Even if you do have a bit of a diet hangover ‘blip’ where you deal ALL of the pizza, nutrition counts over months and years and working towards eating intuitively will eventually include plenty of your fave fruit and veggies!
Is it for you? If you feel like you’ve been on and off the diet bandwagon for years and want to feel more in control and less weird around food – then intuitive eating might just be a good fit for you.