NUTRITION

This Or That: Is Mindful Eating Better For Your Health Or Should You Base Your Diet On Intuition?

Mindful eating and intuitive eating are both dietary approaches that have been picking up a lot of steam recently. Although the two complement each other and have significant overlap, there are some important differences. Let’s take a look at them.

By Adarsh Soni
30 January 2022
food

If you’ve ever been on a diet then you know how cyclical they can be. You start with great enthusiasm and somehow manage to stick to a trendy new diet for a few days—munching down kale, arugula and chia seeds along the way. But as soon as that first weekend rolls in, you think you deserve a cheat day and decide to have a taste of the exact same thing you were running away from. And once again like a moth to the flame, you return back to your old ways of eating. But why do we keep falling into this rut over and over again? And why is this phenomenon so common?

 

According to a study by Dr Long Ge, School of Public Health, Lanzhou University, China, popular diets simply don’t work for the vast majority of people. The reasons vary from person to person. Some people don’t follow their diets carefully and aren’t giving it their 100 per cent from the beginning. Others may go off the diet entirely after a while because it’s too restrictive or the food isn’t appealing.

 

If this cycle sounds familiar to you, then you might want to move away from diets that restrict you and try something more intelligible. Something that doesn’t force you to eat or not eat a particular set of food items, and most importantly, a diet that has long-term benefits. And when it comes to eating healthy without falling for these tropes, both intuitive eating and mindful eating are dietary styles that are gaining more popularity.

 

According to The Centre for Mindful Eating, USA, mindful eating helps you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting you with your innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety, while on the other hand, intuitive eating extends a level further to incorporate your emotions and instincts about food and helps you understand your hunger cues, something that ultimately removes the whole concept of binge eating. At their core, they are both about rejecting external dietary influences. But upon closer inspection, they fall into two separate schools of thought. After all, practicing mindfulness and trusting your intuition are two completely different ideologies.

 

Mindful eating Intuitive eating
1.The concept of mindful eating was introduced to the public in 1990 by author Jon Kabat-Zinn. 1.Intuitive Eating and its 10 principles were developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995
2. Mindful eating is about being present in the eating experience in a non-judgmental way. Once you stop judging what you eat and how much you eat, the feeling of self-acceptance becomes more achievable. 2. Intuitive eating goes outside the dietary experience, encouraging people to actively reject external diet messaging.
3. Motivates people to make conscious choices about their eating habits. The main purpose is not to lose weight, but that can be one of the additional benefits. 3. Challenges people to change their relationship with food and their body. Associating food with something positive can help people recover from certain eating disorders.
4. It is possible to engage in mindful eating without becoming an intuitive eater. 4. Intuitive eating is not possible without a dash of mindfulness.
5. Mindful eating is a process of paying attention to your actual eating experience—on purpose. 5. Intuitive eating is a philosophy that relies on internal hunger and satiety.
6. Increases gratefulness and appreciation for your food. 6. Improves self-esteem and body image
7. Decreases feelings of guilt and shame around food. 7. Eliminates the concept of binge eating
8. Mindful eating is more about using your mind and conscience to make dietary choices. 8. Intuitive eating is about letting both your mind and body tell you what you should eat.
9. Has nothing to do with the amount of food you’re consuming. 9. Gives you unconditional permission to eat.

 

The Verdict

If you really think about it, mindful eating is nothing but a component of mindful living. It’s about being present in the moment and harnessing all your senses while eating a meal. When you’re performing an act as simple as eating a piece of cake, treat it as an important ritual. Take in the aroma, taste the main flavours with each bite and don’t forget to identify the more subdued ones along the way. In simpler terms, devour every bite of your meal with full consciousness, focusing on both the taste and nutrition.

 

Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is mainly about letting your gut decide what you want to eat and how much of it you want to consume. It’s like the antithesis to popular dieting techniques that restrict your meals. In easier words, intuitive eating helps you not just develop a healthy relationship with food and your body but also allows you to fully trust your judgement. This in return, removes the concept of cheat days and binge eating.

 

Both of these alternative dietary approaches are about rejecting unhealthy standards of eating and embracing the myriad benefits of good food. Both of them can be adopted by anyone who wants to move past restrictive diets and get rid of all the shame and guilt that society forces upon food.

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