Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
Written by Austin Hess, Dietetic Intern for KC Nutrition Coach
Odds are you have seen the newest diet or product that claims to melt forty pounds off your body and eliminate all your health concerns. Some of you may have even tried it and seen some results. Unfortunately, the nature of these plans tend to be restrictive and eventually we break the rules for something we crave.
Intuitive eating is the exact opposite of this torturous cycle. It is not a diet but rather a mindset focused exclusively on how you feel and connecting you to your mind to your body’s needs. The following are ten principles to help teach you how to eat intuitively.
1. Reject Diet Mentality
Get rid of the idea that weight loss, small bodies, and fads are the way to health. This is a constant physical, mental, and emotional strain on yourself.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Eat when you are hungry! Its pretty simple yet something many of us deny. Start keeping healthy, satisfying snacks around for when you start to feel hungry.
3. Make Peace with Food
Denying yourself food can lead to eventual cravings, bingeing, and guilt. Let yourself eat, it’s okay!
4. Challenge the Food Police
There is no “good” or “bad” food, only food. Break free of that internal dialogue and you are on to a mentally healthier version of yourself.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Eating is fun! Relearn that a good meal with good company is one of the greatest experiences we can have. Sit, eat, and enjoy. It's that simple.
6. Feel Your Fullness
This one is a little more difficult as it is something we have probably been ignoring for a long time. Start with taking a moment during your meal and ask if you are full. Another good sign to watch for is the sigh of fullness (when your stomach is full you naturally sigh). Start paying attention to these signs and stop eating once you are full.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Food can be a coping mechanism for certain emotions. Taking a breath to recognize why you are starting to eat can help you identify emotional eating. But restricting eating can be just as much of a mental/emotional burden. If you need a pick-me-up, feel free to eat a piece of chocolate, just be aware that food does not fix all problems.
8. Respect your Body
Understand that not all of us are genetically built to look identical. We must stop comparing our bodies to others and begin respecting who and where we are.
9. Movement not Exercise
Just move! Forget how many calories you are burning and start being cognizant of how the movement feels. Do you feel more energy? Do you feel better? Focusing on this versus how many calories you can burn in the shortest period, will help you enjoy movement more and keep it a constant in your life.
10. Honor Your Health
Being “healthy” does not mean every piece of food that passes your lips has to be a super food. Consistency and progress are most important, not perfection.
Intuitive eating can be summed up by enjoy all food by being mindful of yourself. You don’t need to be burdened with restrictive plans that rarely work. Start listening to your body, eating what you want and watch as your health follows. The muffin recipe below is a perfect snack option!
Chocolate Zucchini Blender Muffins
Servings: 10 muffins
Tracey Shaffer is a registered dietitian and certified health coach and owner of KC Nutrition Coach in Eastern Jackson County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.