By Megan Geierman, Nutrition Program Director
The spring months are upon us! With each new season comes opportunities for change, renewal, and growth. In the nutrition sense, this is an opportunity to expand on our behavioral relationship with food. Who knew that eating a meal could be so complex?
One particular concept to consider is called Intuitive Eating, which is based upon 10 principles designed to reconnect your hunger cues and mind-body relationship with food. These concepts rely on the importance of listening to your body, especially when it comes to hunger, fullness, and enjoyment of the foods we eat. These principles are included below with a brief description. Challenge yourself to try adding a few of these principles into your daily lifestyle.
- Reject the “Diet” Mentality:
Avoid falling for fad diets, quick fixes, and articles that provide a false sense of hope for lasting health.
- Honor Your Hunger:
Learn to listen to your body and hunger cues. Keep your body fed and fueled. Once you reach excessive hunger, this can trigger your body to overeat.
- Make Peace with Food:
Rebuild trusting in yourself and trusting food. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. Learning to appreciate all foods and their role in fueling your body will help to alleviate feelings of guilt for giving into cravings, or feelings of deprivation from being too restrictive.
- Challenge the Food Police:
Make a conscious effort to fight back the voice in your head that comments about how many calories you ate, whether or not you consumed dessert, or whether you ate enough fruits and vegetables at a given time. The food police voice can be challenging to tune out. The challenge is to change the voice!
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor:
Embrace the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. You will feel more content when you finish
your meal, and this will help your body better decide when you’ve had enough.
- Feel Your Fullness:
Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is.
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness:
Each emotion has its own trigger and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix your feelings. It may provide short-term comfort, distraction or even numb you, but food won’t solve the problem. Find other outlets that truly work to embrace or resolve the emotion.
- Respect Your Body:
All bodies deserve dignity. Resist being overly critical of your body size or shape. Diet culture is abundant within our society,
and it is easy to get lost in comparison to what “perfect” should look like.
- Movement–Feel the Difference:
Redefine your relationship with exercise. Feel the change in your energy level, motivation, and muscle strength when you exercise. Replace this with the diet mentality of practicing militant exercise purely to burn calories.
- Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition:
Choose foods that make you feel good. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.