What is Intuitive Eating
Every time a dietitian hands their client or athlete a beautifully written meal plan it is guaranteed to work. The science is there, the person creating the plan is well qualified, and the steps are all laid out. The plan works every time-that’s why nutrition is so simple, and everyone always succeeds when they sign up with a dietitian or health coach…right?
The science is sound and tracking calories and/or macronutrients can works with some people, we successfully use it with some of our athletes at PP. the reason we don’t use it with every client/athlete is that the idea of scarcity and dieting often lead to poor compliance and a bad rebound after following the plan to reach a specific goal.
Great examples of this include bodybuilders or strength athletes who are dieting to look a certain way or compete in a certain weight class. Afterwards, instead of reverse dieting slowly, they gain a lot of weight and body fat. They keep this weight for a while and then continue to yo-yo diet for the unforeseeable future until they stop competing or decide it is finally time for a better approach.
So what’s the better option if you don’t want to count calories and/or macronutrients? The answer lies in intuitive eating. The basics behind intuitive eating are:
- There are no “good” or “bad” foods
- Learning to listen to your body and hunger cues
- Relearning your relationship with food
- Eliminating your preconceived notions regarding “food rules” and beliefs
How does it work?
Intuitive eating is a holistic approach to diet and wellness. It is rooted in self-care and works to help the individual create a better relationship with food by building an awareness of and noting all aspects of their health. It was started with research in 1995 by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. The following 10 specific principles listed below break down the main components of intuitive eating:
#1 Reject the Diet Mentality – This is something we talk about a lot with our clients at PP and it’s the idea that the “lose 10# in 10 Days” mentality is broken and leads to bigger long-term problems. Step-one in intuitive eating is to understand it is a process and a lifestyle. You are NOT A FAILURE if you can’t stick to keto, intermittent fasting or other diets. You are human and there are other options out there to help you reach your goal.
#2 Honor Your Hunger – Stop the overeating by preventing it. Learning how to accept hunger cues and knowing when you are hungry through mindfulness will allow you to eat the right amount of food which will help curb the desire to overeat. Knowing your triggers for overeating will expedite the process to help you in your health journey and reach your fitness goals.
#3 Make Peace with Food – This is a reminder that there are no “good” or “bad” foods and when you do have foods that are not conducive to your goals it’s OK! The next step is to simply pick better foods for the next meal, not lament and beat yourself up, but to move forward and understand that constant deprivation is often what leads to binge eating and spiraling into unhealthy habits.
#4 Challenge the Food Police – This often involves overcoming your inner monologue more than other people who give feedback about your food choices. The internal monologue that accompanies each food choice and leads to guilt or long-term negativity needs to be confronted and resolved. If you never face these thoughts and feelings, they will constantly keep you from accepting and being successful with this type of eating.
#5 Discover the Satisfaction Factor – One of the main concepts we teach our PP athletes and clients is to eat slowly and stop when you feel 80% full. The reason for this is that if you eat until you are completely full you usually have already over-eaten. These two cues have helped many of our members to better feel full and not have the same cravings and overeating they previously experienced.
#6 Respect Your Fullness – Enjoy your food and make sure that you are doing so slowly as this will allow for you to truly be mindful and present while eating. When you are mindful you are more likely to receive the signals that your body is full
#7 Honor Your Feelings without Using Food – While naming and recognizing your triggers is step one, the next step is to find more productive ways to deal with these triggers. When you feel that trigger coming on or recognize the cues that lead to a specific action it is important to pick actions and activities that do not involve food. This will help to lessen emotional eating and lead to better long-term results.
#8 Respect Your Body – Not everyone is born to be a specific type of athlete, but we are all born with great gifts. Coming to terms with what your gifts are and how to best utilize them is an integral step on this journey. Knowing what you want to accomplish and respecting where you are starting from are great steps towards acceptance and success.
#9 Movement & Exercise - Feel the Difference – Enjoying the way you feel after accomplishing activities and not a specific number of calories burned allows motivation to grow from small victories and also makes people feel better internally with self-confidence and increased energy levels.
#10 Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition – Eating perfectly for every meal is not required to be healthy. Nutrient deficiencies, diseases and other nutritional issues do not happen overnight or from one meal, they happen from long term poor life decisions. This means that we are looking for progress, not perfection.
For someone wanting to transform into a better version of themself, learn more about nutrition, and how to eat better to reach their fitness goals, intuitive eating is a perfect option. High level athletes looking for a short-term fix with very specific measurable goals will often do better with meal plans. We at PP love this approach and think most people should use it to reach their goals. Its ease of use, increased education and ability to use anywhere and any situation makes it an incredibly useful tool for reaching your health and lifestyle goals.
Whether you are tracking your macros or not we are here to assist you, and that is the most important part. We are here to support you and guide you on this journey to make you a better version of the already awesome person you are. We will work to help you learn more about food, how prepare quality food in the best ways, identify the best available options, and other food skills to help on our journey. Think about which way works best for you, and let’s get started, by CLICKING HERE.