Intuitive eating is one of the buzziest terms out there in the world of health and wellness. It’s one that’s easy to throw around, but do you know what it really means? Just what is this anti-diet buzz?
If 2021 is your year to cast off outdated, ineffective, and frankly soul-draining diet culture (which has wormed its way into all our brains in some way), then learning the ins and outs of intuitive eating is a great way to begin your anti-diet journey.
Brace yourself: intuitive eating is all that diet culture tries to teach us, flipped on its head.
Intuitive Eating Is Not Another Diet – It’s the Anti-Diet
The first thing to know about intuitive eating is that it’s strongly, unequivocally anti-diet. You’ll find no “eat this, not that” language here. No counting calories, no tracking macros, no prescribed meal plans or “eating windows” or off-limit foods.
Intuitive eating reminds us that our bodies know best – so it’s designed to help us get reacquainted with our inner wisdom and cues, which already know what we need to eat.
If a restrictive, rule-heavy way of eating is the only way you’ve ever known, intuitive eating can feel like a whole lot of . . . nothing, at first. It may feel bizarre, or downright scary to loosen your grip on all the rules about food that diet culture has preached.
It’s a common misconception that embracing intuitive eating means somehow “giving up” or not caring about your health. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Intuitive Eating Is Strongly Rooted in Science
The phrase intuitive eating was first coined by co-creators Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Both are highly-qualified registered dieticians and nutritionists with a passion for shifting the paradigm around the way we eat.
The first thing to know about intuitive eating is that it’s strongly, unequivocally anti-diet.
Their anti-diet approach is rooted in countless studies showing that, plainly put, diets don’t work – not long-term. Instead, intuitive eating promotes a healthy-at-every-size approach and tosses out the notion that weight is the be-all and end-all for health.
Here Are the 10 Basic Principles of Intuitive Eating:
Ready to bid diet culture farewell? Try these principles of intuitive eating on for size – they just might be the dose of body-honoring, self-love that you’ve been craving more than anything.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
A tall order, when diet culture has reigned supreme in our society since . . . always. But intuitive eating suggests we challenge and cast off the restriction and weight loss obsession that is diet culture.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Intuitive eating teaches that our bodies know best and that hunger isn’t something to restrict or hack our way out of. What would it be like to listen (without judgment!) to our hunger cues, like we listen to other bodily signals?
3. Make Peace With Food
How many of us view carbs as something to cut, calories as something to watch, and certain food as off-limits or something to burn off in an extra hard cardio sesh the next day? What if we let go of all that?
4. Challenge the Food Police
Just like we often see certain foods as “good versus bad,” that level of judgment often extends to how we view ourselves as humans – either good or bad for eating a certain way. Intuitive eating encourages us to challenge these food rules as they pop up in our psyche.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
When you embrace an anti-diet intuitive eating way of consuming food, it allows for joy and satisfaction to come back into mealtime. As we let go of guilt and restriction, we reconnect to what actually tastes good for our individual body.
6. Feel Your Fullness
When we reconnect with our body’s natural cues and signals, we can also begin to honor when we’re feeling full.
Contrary to popular belief, intuitive eating doesn’t mean you’ll be binging on doughnuts uncontrollably – because our bodies don’t actually want that, not long-term.
7. Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness
What we often think of as “emotional eating,” may really just be a natural mental and physical side effect from years of restriction. Intuitive eating doesn’t aim to “fix” emotional eating, but it offers us additional ways to soothe tough emotions.
8. Respect Your Body
This principle sounds simple – but too often, we don’t love or respect our bodies. Instead, we aim to change them. Intuitive eating reminds us to have loving views toward our bodies and know we’re enough as we are.
9. Feel the Difference in Movement
“No pain, no gain” is so out. Movement should be joyful and fun – not simply about logging the number of calories we’ve burned. We can shift our focus from physical appearance to how movement feels in our bodies.
10. Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition
In case anyone thinks that intuitive eating disregards all nutrition science, that is far from the truth. It was founded by registered dieticians after all.
No one’s arguing that kale and doughnuts are different in terms of their nutritional value, but intuitive eating reminds us we can eat whatever foods we want without punishing ourselves for one day of eating “junk.” And we don’t have to label it as junk in the first place!
The final principle takes into account that so much more goes into health than just what’s on our plate.
Is It Time for You to Jump on the Anti-Diet Bandwagon and Let Go of Diet Culture for Good?
Unpacking years of programmed-into-us diet culture thinking in favor of an anti-diet approach can’t come from just reading one article.
The process can take time – we’re still bombarded with diet culture messaging everywhere we turn, and deeply held beliefs take time to rewrite.
But if you’re feeling that time’s up on diet culture restriction and beyond ready for your self-worth to never again be even a little tied up in how many carbs you’ve eaten, intuitive eating may be the self-love, body-honoring breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.
Speaking of self love, Make Self-Love a Habit With These 25 Practices