With so many fad diets constantly circulating the fitness world, it can be difficult to fall into a rhythm with healthy eating and create habits that are sustainable long term. Super strict diets such as Keto and Whole 30 can demand the removal of things like sugar, alcohol, grains, and dairy. These rules may sound simple but restricting to this degree often results in binging or falling off completely. Working towards certain fitness goals doesn’t mean you need to skip out on things like your child’s birthday cake, a toast at a friend’s wedding, or the office pizza party. With intuitive eating, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Intuitive eating is the practice of listening to your instincts when it comes to food and rejecting feelings of guilt, shame, or pressure associated with certain foods. Instead of counting calories, macros, or portioning every meal, intuitive eaters use internal signals such as hunger, fullness, and satisfaction to determine when and what to eat. They know the difference between physical and emotional hunger and eat to satisfy the physical hunger, freeing themselves of the emotional hunger reactions typically tied to this, such as guilt.
Research-backed, intuitive eating works when it is done right. One study showed participants had improved self-esteem, body image, and quality of life. They found that intuitive eating has good retention rates, with people who get started and stick with the habit long term. Another study found that overweight or obese participants who learned and practiced intuitive eating succeeded in a significant decrease in weight. The intervention also resulted in significant increases in physical activity.
To get started, you have to change your mindset. Reject the diet culture that you have been living in for years and listen to your body. Treat hunger as a natural and positive thing and make peace with food, ridding yourself of the need to shame yourself for “bad” choices. Also, when it comes to exercise, you should shift your goals to working out for pleasure and energy, over punishment, or appearance. The shift does take time and effort, but the results are worth it.
Practical tips include focusing on mindful eating. Turn off the TV, put down your phone, and step away from the computer. Mindlessly eating and multitasking can cause you to overeat or negatively impact satiety (that full feeling). Instead, eat at the table with no distractions. Spend time exploring your feelings of hunger, satisfaction, and fullness. Listening to your body and learning to nourish it’s needs can result in a happier, healthier, life.
IFBB Pro Figure, Trainer