Intuitive eating is a hunger-based anti-dieting approach to maintaining your natural weight. In this alternative dietary approach your diet depends on what your body tells you when, what and how to eat. The body knows best how much nourishment it needs. Once we learn to understand, its messages can become quite clear. Intuitive eating is creating a healthy a relationship with your food, mind, and body.
Why should I be aware of this?
Over the years a number of studies have shown that people who begin to diet at a younger age (females more often than males) actually tend to gain weight. Intuitive eating may be a way to head that cycle off, by stopping kids from becoming dieters and getting into a more healthy relationship with food.
People must learn how to not eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons and learn how to interpret their own body signals, such as cravings and hunger, and how to respond in a healthy way.
All about intuitive eating
Intuitive eating may sound easy, but in the beginning, it's probably far more challenging than most fad diets. As people first begin to explore IE, they will by hyper-conscious. Ultimately, though, the goal is to have a healthy attention on food, but not the obsession, guilt and stress that dieting creates. While it doesn't involve measuring cups or calculators, it does entail a high degree of self-awareness. The individual learns to be in sync with the body's satiety signals.
In the Intuitive Eating philosophy, there are no "good" or "bad" foods. Many of the food cravings and binges experienced by people are due to years of dieting where those foods are restricted. Instead, it's a holistic approach that involves being attuned to hunger signals, getting in touch with what your body really wants, and not denying the body treats like ice cream.
What to avoid
There are three main types of unhealthy consumption intuitive eaters need to be aware of and avoid:
- Mindless eating such as snacking on chips in front of the TV with no regard to hunger and satiety
- Emotional eating, like nose-diving fast food after an argument
- Social eating such as dipping into the plate of cookies a co-worker brought to the office when one isn't actually hungry.
Result of pilot study
In a small-scale pilot study published in the "American Journal of Health Education" (November 18, 2005), Hawks and his team of researchers identified a handful of college students who are naturally intuitive eaters and compared them with other students who aren't. Participants were then tested to determine how healthy they were.
As measured by the Intuitive Eating Scale, developed by Hawks and others to measure the degree to which a person is an intuitive eater, researchers found that intuitive eating was significantly correlated with lower body mass index, lower triglyceride levels, higher levels of high density lipoproteins and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
In less developed countries in Asia
Hawks observed that in less developed countries in Asia, people are primarily intuitive eaters, and are not conditioned to artificially structure their relationship with food as those in North America. On the contrary they conditioned to believe that the purpose of food is to enjoy, to nurture. As they have a much healthier relationship with food, they face far fewer eating disorders, and interestingly, far less obesity.
What makes intuitive eating different from a diet is that all diets work against human biology, whereas intuitive eating teaches people to work with their own biology, to work with their bodies, to understand their bodies.
What can I do?
- Watch for your body's hunger cues as your signal that it's time to eat. Eat enough to feel satisfied and comfortably full. This may require eating every 3-5 hours. Balanced meals consisting of grains/starchy vegetables, protein foods and vegetables and/or fruits promote satisfaction and satiety.
- Eat what you want. Otherwise you'll find yourself overeating out of deprivation. Or you won't be satisfied, and you may keep searching for food whether you are hungry or not. Remember that if what you want is always the richer choice, you may still be caught up in diet deprivation.
- Always savor your foods with your eyes and nose as well as your mouth. Letting all your senses play a part can enhance your enjoyment and help you feel more satisfied.
- Adopt the attitude that dieting is harmful, and that iy does not lead to the results that people think it will lead to.
- It is important that you learn how not to eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons.
- Listen to your body and eat only when hungry and stop when full.
- You must also learn how to interpret body signals, cravings, and hunger and respond in a healthy way.
- Intuitive Eating
- 'Intuitive Eating' Better Than Dieting for Weight Loss
- Common sense approach to eating