Maybe you're intrigued by the idea of taking a non-diet approach to healthy eating, but simply aren't quite sure what that would look like...
The answer? INTUITIVE EATING.
So, what exactly IS intuitive eating?
It's an alternative approach to dieting based on the assumption that optimal health can be achieved by reconnecting with your body's inner wisdom.
It's an internal roadmap to eating -- as opposed to dieting, which is based solely on external guidelines and numerical rules about when/what/how much to eat.
Intuitive eating rests on the assumption that our bodies are our most valuable tools in the pursuit healthy eating, when we learn to listen and respond to our cues appropriately and consistently....
Below are the 10 basic tenets of intuitive eating to help get you started.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Countless studies show that dieting does not work long-term.
2. Honor Your Hunger. Learn first to identify what hunger feels like in your body *without judgment,* and then use this information to inform your subsequent eating decisions.
3. Make Peace with Food. Give yourself PERMISSION to eat what you want so that you can remove any layers of guilt or pressure that might otherwise accompany your food choices.
4. Challenge the Food Police. You are not a "good" or "bad" or "worthy or "unworthy" person for eating/not eating in a certain way. In fact, there are no food police in intuitive eating - we're firing them!
5. Respect Your Fullness. Fullness falls on a spectrum. Like hunger, learn to identify what the stages of fullness FEEL like, and experiment with which types and amounts of foods you need to get you to that "sweet spot" of comfortable fullness.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Take care to notice and appreciate the pleasurable aspects of your eating experience -- you'll probably find you need to eat less overall food when you do this. PS. Satisfaction can be quite different physical fullness.
7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Sometimes we use food to sooth, avoid, or distract ourselves from certain feelings. See if you can learn to identify when you might be eating for more emotional reasons, and develop alternative ways for healthfully channeling or coping with your feelings -- such as reading a book, calling a friend, or going for a walk, for example (*if you suspect there may be deeper rooted issues at play, meeting with a therapist and/or a nutritionist with experience in this area (echem :) can be tremendously helpful).
8. Respect Your Body. Accepting your physical self makes it a lot easier to listen and appreciate its inner wisdom. Your body is your temple. Treat it well.
9. Exercise. Exercise can be intuitive, too! Disover how to move in a way that FEELS GOOD to you.
10. Honor Your Health. A nutritionally balanced diet contains a mixture of *mostly* whole grains, lean protein, whole fruits and veggies, and essential fats -- but remember, healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food are inherently fluid, flexible, and imperfect.
These principles were adapted from the book Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD.