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What is Intuitive Eating?

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  1. Reject the Diet Mentality: The first step in intuitive eating is to let go of the diet mentality. This means abandoning the idea that there is a perfect diet out there that will magically solve all your problems. Diets often lead to cycles of deprivation and overeating, which can harm both your physical and mental health. By rejecting diet culture, you make space for a more compassionate approach to food.
  2. Honour Your Hunger: Listening to your body’s hunger signals is crucial. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you it needs nourishment. Ignoring these signals can lead to intense cravings and overeating. By honouring your hunger, you maintain your energy levels and avoid the pitfalls of extreme hunger, which can make mindful eating difficult.
  3. Make Peace with Food: Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. When you tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and often, bingeing. When you finally give in to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity it usually results in overeating and overwhelming guilt.
  4. Challenge the Food Police: The food police are the unreasonable rules that dieting creates. These rules are deeply embedded in our minds and can cause guilt and shame. Challenging the food police involves recognizing and questioning these beliefs. By doing so, you free yourself from the judgment that can sabotage your relationship with food.
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Often, dieting can strip away the joy of eating, making it a chore rather than a delight. By seeking satisfaction in your meals, you’re more likely to feel content and less likely to overeat. This means choosing foods that you enjoy and eating them in a pleasant environment.
  6. Feel Your Fullness: Just as it’s important to honour your hunger, it’s equally important to respect your fullness. Listen for the signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe how different foods and portion sizes make you feel. This awareness helps you stop eating when you’re comfortably full, not stuffed.
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness: Food is often used as a way to cope with emotions, but emotional eating doesn’t solve the underlying problems. By developing strategies to deal with your emotions that don’t involve food, you can address the root causes of your feelings. This might include techniques like mindfulness, journaling, or seeking support from friends and family.
  8. Respect Your Body: Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size. Respect your body so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference: Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how much you enjoy an activity, like walking, dancing, or yoga, you’re more likely to stay active and enjoy the benefits of movement.
  10. Honour Your Health – Gentle Nutrition: Make food choices that honour your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Balance, not perfection, is what counts.

Intuitive eating offers a path to reclaiming your health and happiness by fostering a positive, mindful approach to food. By following the 10 principles of intuitive eating, you can break free from the cycle of dieting and discover a more fulfilling way to nourish your body and soul. Remember, the journey to intuitive eating is unique for everyone, so be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time.