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Intuitive Eating:
Your Way to Successful Eating Behavior

Have you heard about Intuitive Eating? If you turned away without even trying to embrace this nutrition and lifestyle system, now it's your second chance. Are you tired of starting another diet, suffering from a dozen of restrictions, and then quitting it the next weekend? Are you scourging yourself for the lack of willpower when you end up eating cookies instead of apples? Are you fed up with dividing foods into "healthy" and "bad" ones to the extent that nothing brings joy?
Do you recognize yourself in any of these stories? If you want to find a nutrition system that suits your needs and doesn't impose any external body images — then intuitive eating is for you. In a nutshell, this system is against any type of dieting or imposing body standards. You eat what you want and when you want, depending on your individual hunger signals. This system, which is more of a lifestyle, is proven to be beneficial for mental and physical health.

Does it sound like something worth trying? Below we cover the widespread myths about nutrition that obstruct our ways to physical and mental wellbeing; then, the fundamental principles of intuitive eating are discussed. LifeOrganizer also gives a few tips that will help you to embrace this beneficial lifestyle.

Refuting Misconceptions about Food and Dieting

We should build a successful nutrition system on a solid fundament of knowledge related to food, dieting, and our bodies. Here are three essential concepts you should embrace on your way to intuitive eating.

Diets don't work

Despite whatever successful weight loss restrictive diets promote, they ensure only short-term effects, if any. In the long-term perspective, as evidenced by multiple studies, food restrictions and complicated dieting systems are harmful to our bodies and mental health. Restrictive diets can lead to excessive weight gain, emotional overeating, and other eating disorders.

Excessive exercise won't normalize your weight

Exercising is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle that you should practice for your happiness, good-quality sleeping, and a healthy body. If you have symptoms of disordered eating, killing yourself in the gym will not solve your nutrition problems and won't guarantee weight normalization. Excessive workouts that you force yourself into do nothing but complicate your dialogue with your body. You start punishing your body for not fitting into glamorous beauty standards instead of enjoying its abilities and wellness. Another trap set by excessive exercising is that you begin tracking vicious calories, making up with physical activities for every "bad" food you eat.
There is no ideal body
Many of us have distorted body images: we perceive ourselves fatter, less fit, with poorer skin and hair than we actually are. Some of these misperceptions are caused by eating disorders problems, but most of them are the results of imposing beauty and wellbeing standards. Out stereotypes and self-judgmental statements are caused by social media. However, ideas that losing or gaining weight to fit in these standards will make you happier are illusions. We have different needs, lifestyles, and bodies, and there is no golden rule (or body measurements) that should suit us all.
no good or bad foods in intuitive eating

5 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating promotes a lifestyle that is free from these misconceptions. It is exclusively up to you to decide what to eat, how much, and how often.

As you have already grasped, intuitive eating is quite different from dieting and weight-loss programs. Back in 1995, two specialists in nutrition — Tribole and Resch — designed Intuitive Eating as "a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body to meet your physical and psychological needs." This approach is also suitable for dealing with unwanted eating habits, emotional overeating, or other disordered eating behaviors. Its founders have also designed a manifesto of ten paramount principles behind this eating system. Here is the core of this lifestyle approach that everybody should benefit from.

1. No more dieting

With intuitive eating, you rely on your body and its signals in terms of what and when you eat.
One of the problems with restrictive dieting and nutrition systems (like the paleo diet or the triangle diet) is that they do not consider the individual needs of our bodies and digestion systems. These needs vary from person to person, defined by genetics, area of living, lifestyle. Moreover, the chemical balance in our bodies changes every second, so it is impossible to single out one nutritional combination that you can stick to for an extended period. It is hard to give up this "dieting mentality" that we absorb in high school if not at a younger age, but it is the first essential step towards intuitive eating.

2. Don't control your body to feel and look good

Find peace and love for the body you have right now, regardless of the stereotypes.
This approach includes no body-shaming since it is not centered around one's bodyweight. The digits on your weights don't determine whether you are healthy or not. Keep in mind that your natural body weight might not fit into standardized norms you see on Instagram. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, helps you to achieve and keep your natural body weight. The only thing you should learn is to feel comfortable with who you are and what your body is like. Leave behind this idea of a body as an external or alien part that needs to be harnessed, improved, or punished. Your body is you, so love yourself and be compassionate.

3. Discover your hunger and fullness

Rely on your signals of hunger and fullness when eating.
The idea central to intuitive eating is that your body knows when to eat, what to eat, and when to stop: think about little children and how they intuitively manage their food intake. Therefore, the feelings of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction with food should be your only guiding stars (it goes without saying restrictions imposed because of allergies, food intolerances, diabetes, etc. should be kept).

However, the feeling of hunger can be tricky since there are two types of hunger — emotional and physical — that differ in origins and symptoms. While physical hunger builds up gradually and calls you for replenishing the nutrients needed for bodily functions, emotional hunger hits you unexpectedly. It often requests certain foods to compensate for emotional challenges. Hunger rarely comes in any of these "pure" forms, though you should work towards recognizing the calls of physical hunger and rely on it. Similarly, you should stop eating when you are full: not when you're done with the portion or when others stopped eating. Recognizing and understanding these hunger signals can be difficult at first, but it comes with self-consciousness and practice.

4. There are no "good" or "bad" foods

Enjoy your right to eat anything you want.
You should find pleasure in what you eat, both physically and mentally. Of course, some foods provide you with much better nutrients than others. Some meals make you so energized and vital, while others infuse you with fatigue. Intuitive eating gives you room to discover how your body and mind reacts to various foods. Relying on your hunger signals, it is up to you to decide what to eat and drink right now — there are no pre-made meal plans or rules to limit you.

After practicing intuitive eating for a while, you will learn from your own experience how to listen to your bodily needs and preferences.

5. Stop feeling guilty

Don't blame yourself for your food or other lifestyle choices.
Since we don't stigmatize food as "good" or "bad" anymore, there are no bad choices. Even if you make some food choices that you find unpleasant or unhealthy, don't perceive them as a consequence of your laziness or the lack of willpower.
legalizing bad food for intuitive eating

Tips for Sticking to Intuitive Eating

Although intuitive eating is an easily comprehensible concept, many people can find it challenging to adopt. Why is it so? This nutritional system relies on one's ability to recognize hunger signals and bodily needs. Mindfulness and emotional literacy are an asset too. However, the feelings of hunger and fullness can become blunt due to eating disorders or exhausting diets of the past years. There are, however, some practices and tricks that help you rediscover your hunger signals.

Keeping a food diary

Writing down what you eat and drink in a day, without judging yourself, helps you connect what you eat with how you feel. Eventually, you will develop your personal vocabulary of describing your emotions and hunger signals. Here we've reviewed several apps that make food journaling easier. Just make sure to pick an app that doesn't count calories or impose on your weight-loss systems.

Legalizing "bad" food

If you tend to avoid some kinds of food that you believe are bad or unhealthy while desiring them deep inside, try this exercise out. Legalizing food you consider "bad" will break a mental rule of craving for a "forbidden fruit".
legalizing sweets is one of the instruments of intuitive eating
First, find out what is your "forbidden fruit", which you usually don't allow yourself to enjoy. Let it be chocolate bars. Next time doing groceries, get an enormous amount of your favorite but forbidden food, much more than you can eat in a few days. Don't hide these chocolates on your junk-shelf: put them together with all other food, so that you can easily see them.

Finally, allow yourself to eat as much as you want throughout the next few days. Don't punish yourself or restrain from eating as much as you want. It feels crazy to loosen all the reins! After a week of this experiment, your craving for that forbidden food will be minimized. Since chocolate bars are now always on the menu, they won't be something unattainable and desirable anymore. You might also realize that you don't feel that great after eating three of them in a row, but having a bite with your afternoon coffee feels about right. No more food police in the house!
LifeOrganizer uses these and many other instruments to help you adopt intuitive eating and find happiness and satisfaction with your true self. Don't get despaired or stressed if you stumbled on your way to intuitive eating and self-love — we are here to support you.