Whenever someone asks me to give them advice about weight loss, I always first advise eating healthy and working out regularly according to your body type.
But recently one of you girls asked me if intuitive eating good for weight loss. I have personally gone from being very strict with my diet and counting calories, to intuitive eating. I love intuitive eating and I’ll explain why a little further below.
WHAT IS INTUITIVE EATING?
Intuitive eating is a type of diet that operates with one key concept in place: you know your body best. This means you know what your body needs and what it doesn’t.
You use your intuition to decide what is right for your body in that moment. You don’t count calories or stress unnecessarily about food like you might on a strict diet.
Unlike traditional diets, there are no hard and fast diet guidelines or restrictions. Instead, you eat what makes you feel great. And you eat when you’re hungry.
The idea is that no two people are the same. And no two people will respond to diets the same way. Everyone’s metabolism is different and this means food that gives one person lots of energy might make another sluggish and tired.
By sticking to what makes you feel good, you give your body the tools it needs to be healthy and full of energy.
THE 10 PRINCIPLES OF INTUITIVE EATING
Though intuitive eating means focusing on what feels right for your body, there are some guiding principles. These principles were established by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, founders of the intuitive eating movement.
1. DITCH THE DIET MENTALITY
Eating intuitively means doing what feels good for your body. That means ditching the idea that some foods are inherently bad and others are inherently good.
As a general rule, if you read about it in a diet book, forget it.
The thing I love about intuitive eating is that I’m never on a “diet.” I eat whatever I want. I make sure to eat healthy most of the time, but if I want some chocolate or if I want to get dessert, I do it. You feel so much more free.
2. HONOR YOUR HUNGER
Your hunger is your body’s way of telling you it needs fuel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’ll be healthier if you give your body the food it needs when it needs it.
Putting off eating until you’re starving puts you at risk of overeating or binging. When you eat intuitively, you simply eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
3. MAKE PEACE WITH FOOD
Give yourself permission to eat when you feel like it and stop blacklisting foods unless you have a medical condition that requires it.
Being able to indulge in the things you love (in moderation) keeps you from feeling that horrific sense of deprivation so many people associate with diets.
4. CHALLENGE THE FOOD POLICE
Drop the idea that you’re behaving good when you eat a calorie-restricted diet and that you’re doing something bad when you satisfy your sweet tooth. The food you eat doesn’t make you a good or bad person.
5. RESPECT YOUR FULLNESS
Unless you have underlying health conditions like leptin-resistance, your body will give you clear signals that it’s full. Eat mindfully and listen to what your stomach is telling you. Once you feel that “hey, I’m full!” feeling, stop eating.
6. DISCOVER THE SATISFACTION FACTOR
Eat food that tastes good and leaves you feeling satisfied. You should enjoy what you eat.
7. HONOR YOUR FEELINGS WITHOUT USING FOOD
Emotional eating is a major problem for many people and once they start, it’s hard to stop. The best way to overcome emotional eating is to honor your feelings.
Pay attention to what your emotions are telling you. Give yourself permission to feel that way, and find ways to ease those emotions without turning to food.
8. RESPECT YOUR BODY
Your body is a temple. And when you constantly criticize yourself about your weight or what you eat, it’s easy to feel unsatisfied.
Instead, respect your body. Accept it for its flaws, its shape, its weight, and its strength.
Remember, you’re strong and so is your body. Your weight does not determine your worth.
9. EXERCISE – FEEL THE DIFFERENCE
Exercise is an important part of improving your overall health. But many standard diets take the fun out of it.
10. HONOR YOUR HEALTH WITH GENTLE NUTRITION
Gentle nutrition means eating what makes you feel good and not punishing yourself when you have a treat. Eat foods that make you feel healthy and do it consistently.
Part of what makes diets so hard is restricting what you eat for a short period of time. Intuitive eating means focusing on long-term goals and health. Be consistent. Be forgiving.
INTUITIVE EATING TIPS
Intuitive eating puts the control over what you eat right in your hands. There are no rules and there are no set programs to follow. But what if you need a little extra guidance?
Here’s what intuitive eating founders also recommend.
JUST DO IT
Starting any diet can be hard. But if you really think it would do you and your body some good, get started.
Don’t put it off until you psych yourself up.
Remember, you’re eating to make yourself feel good. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll start feeling better.
It might take a little while to get used to (I know it did for me!). At the start, it’s a little difficult to know how much to eat. Really pay attention to your body, your hunger levels and how your gut feels.
You will know when you have eaten too much or haven’t eaten enough. Give it time and don’t expect to perfect it straight away. For me, it took a month or 2!
Remember when I mentioned that you’ll be eating food that makes your taste buds happy? Well, SAVOR that food! Eat slowly and turn each bite into an experience.
Pay attention to each bite. Enjoy your food. This gives your stomach time to send that “hey, I’m full!” signal before you accidentally eat more than you need.
And it can take up to 20 minutes until your brain gets the signal. The satiety hormones will kick in after your body starts processing the food you ate.
Try to get creative with your meals. Try out some new recipes, use some new spices. Play with it and make cooking fun.
And take the time to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy and tasty food.
Remember, you have permission to eat when you’re hungry. This means you’ll need to have plenty of food on hand.
WILL IT WORK FOR EVERYONE?
The big question is will intuitive eating work for everyone?
Intuitive eating allows you to focus on doing what’s right for your body.
This of course doesn’t mean that you should eat chocolate cake for every meal of the day, five days a week just because that’s what sounds and tastes good. Nutrition needs to take priority.
Within your intuitive eating routine, you’ll want to incorporate plenty of nutrient-dense foods. This means lean proteins, fats, fibre and carbs from fruit and veg.
And you’ll also want to pay close attention to how your body feels every step of the way. If you feel full, stop eating. If you’re hungry, eat until the hunger is satisfied.
WHAT WORKS FOR YOU MIGHT NOT BE WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Guys, I can’t stress this enough. Only you know your body. And since we’re all different, what works for me might not work for you. And that’s okay.
I mostly eat intuitively and stick to the 80/20 rule – I eat healthy 80% of the time and treat myself 20% of the time.
That way, I don’t deprive myself of any food but I also don’t overindulge. And I actually WANT to eat healthy most of the time.
I also don’t count calories or macros now but I know how many calories I should be eating for my body type and activity level.
It’s important that you don’t eat too much but also that you don’t eat too little.
And when it comes to exercise, start working out (if you don’t already). I promise it will do you good :)
And if you already work out regularly, don’t be afraid to change your workout routine every now and then.
Hope you found this post helpful!
Love Rachael xx