A starter’s guide to intuitive eating.
As summer comes closer and closer (based on the recent 80+ degree days here in New York, it may be here already), this is the time when most people kick the workouts into high gear, fad diets begin, and people just plain old obsess over their weight and make themselves miserable. Isn’t summer supposed to be a time for happiness?
Why be that friend who orders a side salad at dinner, or nothing at all? You should listen to your body. If your hungry, eat. If you’re full, stop. This doesn’t mean go all in on the junk food if you’re hungry, but instead listen to your body and what it wants. Constantly obsessing over calories and the number on the scale is going to do nothing for you but drive you crazy and bring unnecessary stress into your life.
There has been studies that show intuitive eating leadings to a lower BMI and better psychological health. It starts with being able to tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger:
- Physical hunger: This biological urge tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue or irritability. It is satisfied when you eat any food.
- Emotional hunger: This is driven by emotional need. Sadness, loneliness and boredom are some of the feelings that can create cravings for food (often “comfort foods”). Eating then causes guilt and self-hatred.
“Participants in intuitive eating studies improved their self-esteem, body image and overall quality of life, while experiencing less depression and anxiety.”
It is important to make peace with food and get all previous ideas of what you should and shouldn’t eat out of your head. Respond to hunger early, don’t push it off and cause yourself to become overly hungry, which will likely cause you to overeat. Same goes for being full, don’t ignore the feeling and continue to eat.
Intuitive eating isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life. It’s a way of shifting your focus from your weight and appearance, to better mental health. Reject the whole “diet” idea, get it out of your head and don’t let it back in. “Studies [have] had positive results, demonstrating improvements in eating habits, lifestyle, and body image as measured by dietary restraint, restrictive dieting, physical activity, body satisfaction, and drive for thinness.”
If this is something that interests you, and you don’t find it as simple as just eating what you want, when you want, consult with a nutritionist to get you started in the right direction. Because… everyone deserves to be happy and love themselves the way they are, no strings attached.