“Intuitive Eating” is often referred to as the opposite of a “traditional diet.”
Rather than designing your meal plan according to a set of rules and dietary limitations, intuitive eating encourages you to do away with restrictions and eat according to how you feel. Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, even describe intuitive eating as a “non-diet approach” that helps people “unlearn” certain rules and expectations related to food.
What does this all mean?
Basically, intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy that encourages us to eat whatever we want – and how often we want – without entertaining thoughts of social norms or internalized guilt.
This doesn’t give you a free pass to overindulge, either. Intuitive eating practices encourage awareness of what you put into your body. You listen to your body for cues on when to eat, what to eat, and how much of it.
It’s honestly so simple, it’s almost ridiculous.
Eat when you’re hungry.
Stop when you’re full.
Eat food that makes you feel good emotionally and physically.
So why is everyone talking about Intuitive Eating?
- Guilt-Free Dining
Why do “cheat days” or “cheat meals” exist?
Because we’ve equated certain foods as “bad.” We consider eating said foods as “bad behaviour.” So when we do indulge in the typical unhealthy junk food – pizzas, chips, nachos, ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc. – we feel guilty. We feel like we “cheated” ourselves somehow.
Intuitive eating removes the “good” and “bad” labels on food. When we subscribe to the principles of eating intuitively, we instead develop an awareness of which foods make our body feel good and which ones do not. And then we simply eat according to that awareness.
- Delicious Dishes Once More
Once you remove the guilt and anxiety attached to food, you eliminate the subsequent feelings of self-worth. If you’ve ever been on a diet and found yourself subconsciously patting yourself on the back for turning down that slice of cake or that extra serving of pasta, then you’ve probably experienced the flipside, too. Mentally kicking yourself for having dessert on a “non-cheat day.” Or agonizing for days over how badly that one burger from McDonald’s could have messed up your macros and why did you eat it you shouldn’t have eaten it you know better-!
Yeah. This punishing way of thinking can really take away food’s flavour.
Intuitive eating helps you reprogram your beliefs about food, neutralising the resist-reward system diet culture has ingrained in us. When you’re no longer plagued by the concept of “good food,” “bad food,” you really start to taste and appreciate each dish’s unique flavour.
- Reconnect With Your Body
Eating intuitively forces you to listen to your body. Again, it’s not about eating food that makes you feel good emotionally i.e., comfort food like chips, pizza, cookies, etc.
You can still eat those, of course, but trust me when I say that your body’s going to crave whole foods eventually. Vegetables, white meat, soups and broths, whole grains …
By following the principles of intuitive eating, you have to remove your preconceived notions about what you should eat and instead embrace what your body intrinsically tells you to eat. It’s a very wholesome experience that gets you to reconnect with your body.
To reiterate, intuitive eating is not a free pass to eat high-processed junk food 24/7 and simply write it off as “eating intuitively.” It’s also not a free pass to overindulge. Intuitive eating promotes achieving a healthy relationship with food – and subsequently optimised health – through a hyper-awareness of your body. Ultimately, it’s about balance.