Today's blog post comes from Environmental Intern Rhianna Haynie-Cion. She reviews the principles of intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is the principle that your body is a beautiful thing that needs to be nourished, and that restrictive dieting acts as a form of punishment that will eventually lead to cravings and binge eating. The main principles of intuitive eating, originally discussed by Alissa Rumsey, are outlined below.
To begin, it is important to reject the dieting mentality. Crash diets, outlined in so many fad magazines, give you the hope of quick and easy weight loss and result in a feeling of failure when they inevitably do not work.
The next step is honoring your hunger. Starving yourself in the hope of losing weight will only result in a “primal drive to overeat” (Rumsey), for once the body gets too hungry, it will reach out for any form of sustenance, healthy or otherwise. Build trust with yourself by eating when you are truly hungry, and refraining when you are not.
Potentially the most controversial step to intuitive eating is the concept of not limiting which foods you allow yourself to eat. If you limit specific foods, that often leads to uncontrollable cravings and binging when you finally give in, paired with feelings of guilt and hopelessness. These feelings can actively work against your goal to feel more positively about your body.
While consuming food, relish in the satisfaction of eating. Find pleasure and contentment out of what you are putting in your body. When you cherish your body, it can be easier to decide when you have had enough. And once you are full, respect this feeling.
Find other ways to embrace your feelings without using food. Comfort food is called comfort food for a reason, but it is important that food is not looked at as a replacement for actually solving issues. In the long run, overeating and giving into cravings only provides temporary satisfaction, whereas human connection, exercise, or other methods will provide lasting benefits.
Exercise to feel the difference in your mental health and happiness, not to punish yourself. Concentrate on the energy gained from going on a walk or run, which will provide more motivation to get yourself active.
Finally, respect your body and honor your health. Every person has a genetic blueprint, and unrealistic expectations will only lead to despair and eventually, you’ll want to give up. Make choices in your diet to honor this fantastic body you were given and that will make you feel good. And remember, this is a long term change, and it is important that what you eat over time matters.