By Jessica Phung
Intuitive eating is a great way to build and/or maintain a healthy relationship with food. But what is intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is a style of eating that rejects the norms of dieting and puts you and your body in charge of what you should or shouldn’t eat. When eating intuitively, you listen to what your body tells you rather than what others might.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
1) Reject the Diet Mentality: Diet culture is highly toxic and would rather benefit off of you than help you. Remember, the industry would be nothing if they actually helped you.
2) Honour Your Hunger: Your body knows what’s best for you. If it tells you to eat, there should be no reason not to. Withholding yourself from eating can create distrust between you and your body and can lead to your body holding onto food rather than naturally using it for energy in fear of you starving yourself again. Extreme hunger can cause overeating, as your body is desperate for food.
3) Make Peace with Food: Depriving yourself of certain foods will only increase your want and desire. When you eventually do give in, you end up bingeing: eating more than you would have in the first place. Assuming that you were depriving yourself of certain foods as they were unhealthy, you end up being unhealthier and end up creating feelings of guilt.
4) Challenge the Food Police: There is no such thing as “good or “bad” food. Doing something such as declaring eating a low amount of calories as a “good” day and a milkshake as “bad” perpetuates a toxic mindset where you’re constantly provoking unnecessary guilt. When it comes to your diet, the only day you should label as “good” is a day where you listen to your body and are satisfied with what and how much you ate.
5) Respect Your Fullness: Trust is mutual, therefore if you want your body to trust you, you need to trust your body. While you are eating the food which you and your body desire, listen to what your body is saying. Pay attention to whether or not you’re full and if your body wants to continue eating. The most important thing is you and your body’s mutual satisfaction.
6) Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Eating is enjoyable and an amazing experience. This is especially true when it comes to the food you love. This satisfaction is often forgotten when you get too caught up in diet culture. When you let yourself experience the joy that comes from eating, you’ll see that your body will know when to stop and most importantly, you’ll feel content.
7) Honour Your Feelings without Using Food: While it can be easy to eat as a way to distract and/or comfort yourself, it will not fix anything. It will only give you short-term satisfaction before it inevitably makes you feel worse. Eating won’t solve the issue nor make your feelings go away and you’ll be forced to deal with them either way. Instead, find other ways to make yourself feel better. That being said, don’t take away your food to cope either. No matter the situation, your health should be most important.
8) Respect Your Body: Everyone’s body is beautiful. No matter the size. Everyone was born different. There is no such thing as the “perfect” nor “healthy” size. Rather than demonizing a number on a scale or the body you see in the mirror, wouldn’t it be more realistic to love yourself as you are right now? Isn’t that more important than what society has to tell you? The shape of your body does not define you and has nothing to do with beauty.
9) Exercise — Feel the Difference: Exercise to feel better about yourself. Forget about losing weight, your ultimate goal should be your health and how good you feel after (and even during) your exercise.
10) Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition: Eat in a way that satisfies you and your health. This doesn’t mean being perfectly healthy but rather consistently eating foods that benefit your health.
* Please note that this is just my own interpretation of the 10 principles, if you want to learn more about intuitive eating, you should check out the source I used, https://www.intuitiveeating.org/ *
My Journey with Intuitive Eating
While not perfect, my diet and health has been getting better as I continue to learn and practice intuitive eating. Before attempting to eat intuitively, I was obsessed with the way I looked and went through unhealthy cycles of eating as little as one small meal a day to binge-eating by the end of the week. By learning to eat intuitively I began to listen to my body as well as build a better outlook on my body. Of course, it wasn’t just eating intuitively that aided my journey but it certainly helped me. Eating intuitively gave me a better outlook on what my body needed and taught me that my body gives me signals for hunger and fullness for a reason. I don’t need to stop eating unless my body tells me to. Furthermore, it has helped me rebuild my relationship with food, and, for the most part, I no longer see certain foods as “evil” and/or “off-limits.” Now, I am able to accept my body’s cravings and find my own balance for the most part. As of today, body-image and healthy eating are still things I need to work on but day by day, I continue to make progress through eating intuitively.