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What Is Intuitive Eating?

It’s just eating when you’re hungry, and stopping when you’re full, right? Not quite! Intuitive Eating is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your own body and its hunger signals. Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t impose guidelines about what to avoid and what or when to eat. Many people find this method of eating liberalizing, allowing them to establish a positive relationship with food and have enjoyment return to the eating experience. Intuitive Eating follows ten basic principles.

These principles of Intuitive Eating work in two ways:

1) Cultivating Attunement- these principles help you gain ability to read the biological cues your body is giving you (hunger and fullness) thus allowing you to respond to them. Your body knows what it needs and is trying to tell you, these principles teach you how to listen and hear.

2) Removing Obstacles to Attunement- these principles guide you in working to remove the obstacles that are preventing you from hearing your body’s cues. They encourage you to challenge previously held beliefs about “good” food and “bad” food or what a healthy body should or should not look like and invite you to practice self-compassion.

The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Stop following trendy diets and feeling like a failure when they don’t work. You are not a failure; diets have failed you. Diet culture is hurting you, get angry at it and leave it behind for good.

2. Honor Your Hunger: Trust your body and feed it the energy that it needs now or open yourself up to the possibility of overeating later. When you notice your body is telling you it is hungry, allow yourself to provide it what it is needing.

3. Make Peace With Food: Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Telling yourself some foods are off limits leads to feeling deprived and often to eating that food past the point of comfort later, which can be accompanied with guilt. Stop this cycle by allowing yourself to be at peace with what you are wanting to eat and letting yourself have that.

4. Challenge the Food Police: The "food police" monitor unreasonable and often irrational rules around food. They may judge you as “good” for eating fewer carbohydrates or “bad” for treating yourself to French fries. Food does not have morality. Challenge what the food police are telling you and rebel against their hurtful judgments.

5. Feel Your Fullness: Listen for your body telling you that you are no longer hungry. Gauge your hunger throughout a meal and be mindful during the experience. Feel the feeling of being comfortably full.

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Allow yourself the pleasure of food and what the experience eating can provide. When you eat the things that you really enjoy, you will find a place of satisfaction.

7. Cope With Your Feelings Without Using Food: Food won’t solve your problems and can often lead you to feeling worse if you are using it to cope with emotions. Find ways to comfort yourself without food and work to find the root of your emotions.

8. Respect Your Body: All bodies deserve respect and dignity. Accept your body for what it is, whatever size that may be, and learn to appreciate it for the unique and powerful vessel of your being that it is.

9. Exercise- Feel the Difference: Pay attention to how it feels to move your body and find movement that you enjoy. When you stop focusing on how many calories you are burning and start focusing on the way it feels to move, you may find yourself more eager to get out of bed and do the movement that fits you.

10. Honor Your Health- Gentle Nutrition: You don’t have to eat “perfectly” to be healthy. Make food choices that honor your health, taste good, and make you feel good. One snack, or meal, or day of eating won’t make or break your health. Trust that your body knows what to do, honor what it needs, and do what feels right.

Check out the following for more information and to help you get started with Intuitive Eating:

Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

The Intuitive Eating Card Deck by Elyse Resch & Evelyn Tribole

Intuitive Eating for Every Day by Evelyn Tribole

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