Becoming an Intuitive Eater.

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Sep 29, 10:31 AM in and . No comments.

Following my blog on the Non Diet Approach, I did promise to write a little blog about each of main features of this approach to weight concerns and to building a healthy relationship with food.

This week, I’ve been concentrating on Intuitive Eating.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Actually it’s quite hard to find a simple definition of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive eating isn’t a diet and isn’t about following a set of rules. It’s really an eating philosophy of sorts and is about quite a few things rolled into one.
An intuitive eater is defined as: “a person who makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honours hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.”

Being an intuitive eater sounds great, doesn’t it!

Intuitive eating is about learning to follow your body’s hunger and fullness signals, separating emotional from physical hunger and changing your attitude to food and dieting. Intuitive eating is about being free from chronic dieting and issues with food and about being able to enjoy eating “normally”.

For many, and particularly for those of us who have spent a lifetime on and off “diets”, becoming an intuitive eater is a process which takes some effort.

This involves working through ten principles:

1. Reject the diet mentality
2. Honour your hunger
3. Make peace with food
4. Challenge the food police
5. Respect your fullness
6. Discover the satisfaction factor
7. Honour your feelings without food
8. Respect your body
9. Enjoy exercise
10. Honour your health – gentle nutrition

This process is bound to take some time, support and guidance ….but the reward is great when you finally break free of the diet rollercoaster and being ruled by food and weight.

This week, I have been talking to clients going on the intuitive eating journey and also have been making a concentrated effort to eat intuitively myself.

I have asked people to share their thoughts and tips about their journey.

So far, the most common points that people are sharing are:

  • It takes a LOT of self-talk in the early stages – yes, you will be constantly talking yourself through. “Am I hungry?” “Do I really want this?”
  • There will be moments when you are scared of letting go. Knowing that you have unconditional permission to eat does make you fearful that all hell will break loose and you will gorge yourself silly. Don’t panic, this feeling will pass.
  • You need to be patient. The biggest challenge for most people seems to be stopping multi-tasking whilst eating. No! You need to take time for your meals. You need to eat mindfully and to recognise your hunger and fullness. You can’t do that whilst scoffing a piece of toast while ironing, packing bags and running out the door with the kids. You also have to train yourself not to rush meals so you can get on to your next task
  • You need to be a little selfish at first. (This one comes from me.) I have noticed that when I am eating, I am constantly being inundated by requests from my family. “Can I have a drink?”, “Can you just email this for me”, “Come and look at this”. To become and intuitive eater, you need to work on getting others to respect your protected meal times too.
  • If you have been a chronic dieter, it takes a LOT of effort to stop doing a daily calorie total or to stop trying to think back to “what time you last ate”. It doesn’t matter. You just eat when you are hungry. You need to treat every occasion as unique.
  • At first you might find it hard to really recognise hunger and fullness. This takes practice.
  • All of a sudden you start to notice all the negative and guilty comments about food when out at a meal with friends. Comments like “Oh, I’m such a pig for having dessert” and “God, I feel so guilty for having this” really stand out after you start thinking about intuitive eating. You also realise how much you have been doing this too.
  • You may be surprised about what foods you actually enjoy and about which ones you don’t even really like. This can be a real eye-opener. Some people thought they liked foods and when they really thought about how they tasted and made them felt, realised they actually didn’t!
  • It’s lovely when you start to exercise just for the enjoyment rather than feeling like you need to do your “calorie burn”. Just going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine is so much more fun.
  • It’s incredible when you hit that point where you feel in control, kind of like a wonderful feeling of freedom.

The journey to becoming an intuitive eater is worth the effort. If you would like more information about the Non Diet Approach or about becoming an intuitive eater, please contact me and I’ll be glad to let you know more.

(photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos )

Tags: Intuitive Eating, Non Diet Approach

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.

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