The first step to start intuitive eating is learning to trust your inner hunger cues.
- Liz Keller
What does Intuitive Eating mean, and is it for everyone?
There are so many approaches to having a healthy diet; how do you know which one is right for you? With counting macros, intermittent fasting, the 80/20 rule, calorie counting apps, and more, I’m sure you’ve tried some (if not all), with some success and some pitfalls. But what really is the ultimate goal? My main goal as a holistic nutritionist is to teach the people I work with the skills needed to practice intuitive eating and gain the confidence to achieve healthy weight goals while continuing to live their lives. That’s what the Eat Smart nutritional program is all about.
What does Intuitive Eating mean?
First, let’s start with what intuitive eating is NOT. It does not mean eating a bunch of processed foods and snacks as much as you want whenever you feel like it. Intuitive eating is living your life without the stress of constantly feeling like you need to be food restrictive. By eating intuitively, you should have the desire to choose the best foods for your optimal health and understand how your body feels. It is similar to the 80/20 rule, in that some of the choices you make might not always be the best choice for your goal of a six-pack per se, but they can be the best choice for that moment. A perfect example is enjoying a traditional dessert on a holiday or having a few drinks with family or friends on a special occasion. Intuitive eating means being able to enjoy these moments without having to think about if it’s the best choice because of your “diet goals.”
Starting Intuitive Eating
One of the main reasons clients are resistant to intuitive eating is that they feel like they would eat uncontrollably and gain 400 pounds if they weren’t following strict rules or a structured meal plan. The first step to start intuitive eating is learning to trust your inner hunger cues. The main reason you feel that you don’t have control over what you’re eating is because your first thought goes straight to hyper-palatable foods and processed foods. Foods high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, and simple carbohydrates hijack your brain and override the biological signals that tell us when to eat and when we are full. Learning to trust your inner hunger cues takes time, but with practice and guidance through my program, you will be able to differentiate between restricting yourself from certain foods and simply not wanting those foods. We are all born with the ability to know how much food we need to eat, and most of today’s obesity epidemic is caused by the availability of food products that are not real food. Learning that there are no “bad” foods and you don’t need to reward yourself with food are two concepts of intuitive eating.
Several studies have shown that intuitive eating is associated with:
- Better body image
- Lower rates of emotional eating
- More satisfaction
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Less stress
Working towards fitness goals using Intuitive Eating
In my opinion, when you have a specific weight loss goal or you’re looking to put on muscle, counting your calories and knowing the macronutrient breakdown of these calories is the most efficient way to achieve these goals. However, I try to work with clients to establish realistic goals, which also means having realistic timelines. The best way to achieve your goals and maintain mental and physical health is to follow specific guidelines while working on mindfulness and intuitive eating techniques. I never expect a client to go from strict rules to eating whatever they want right away, but meal plans and macros are not the end goal, just the first step.
Reversing a lifetime of a diet mentality takes time, but I know it can be done. Shifting your mindset away from the foods you “can’t” eat to the foods you need to eat for a long healthy life takes time, but it can be done. If you are tired of feeling like you don’t have control over what you eat, how your body looks, or how you feel about your physical and mental health, then working towards intuitive eating should be your goal.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to start working toward your optimal health!
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