What it Means to Eat Intuitively
There is no miracle diet, or universal approach when it comes to nutrition. It is time to trust your gut and combat hunger, not food.
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Your body needs food—that’s as simple as it gets. With the prevalence of a toxic diet culture in our society, we are often expected to eat a certain way in order to reach our goal weight, a parameter that has been pre-decided for everyone. For vanity’s sake, we are expected to desire the same body shape. But with the emergence of new studies, and the resurgence of a method of nutrition by renowned registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, it might finally be time to start eating—whenever you feel like.
What is Intuitive Eating?
A no-frills approach to nutrition, intuitive eating is letting your intuition decide your meals—a step away from depending on restrictive, trendy diets. So is our inner voice really wiser than a well-structured dieting regimen? Experts say yes. “The way you engage with food is highly influenced by psychological and emotional factors. The minute you restrict or deprive your body of a certain food, you immediately want it even more. Binge eating and eating without control are direct responses to deprivation and restriction. But when you give yourself unconditional permission to eat that food, the urgency to eat it goes away. The appeal of a bowl of khichdi then equals the appeal of a bowl of French fries. Your body wants to feel good, nourished, and energised and you can absolutely trust that little voice in your head, telling you to eat,” says Charmaine D’Souza, dietitian and the author of The Good Health Always Cookbook.
Benefits of Intuitive Eating
One of the biggest advantages of intuitive eating is steered towards improving mental health rather than targeting an ideal body. According to a research conducted by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people that participated in intuitive eating studies were less anxious and depressed, along with a better view of their own body image—something most of us struggle with. They also have a significantly better retention rate. In other words, people are more likely to stick to intuitive eating, rather than the Keto diet for example. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not just as good for your physical appearance. A research paper by Nina Van Dyke, a senior research fellow at the Mitchell Institute, Australia, states that intuitive eating is linked to people achieving a healthier BMI along with better weight maintenance.
How to eat intuitively
- The first step would be to get rid of any guilt or shame that surrounds your everyday meals “Carbohydrates are just as essential as vitamins and antioxidants—so make sure you don’t feel bad about eating anything just because it is deemed unhealthy or uncool,” says D’Souza.
- Replace any negative feelings that pop up in your head with acceptance and love. Instead of getting caught up with one ill-placed thought and letting it spiral endlessly, be gentle with yourself and know that it might take some time to adjust to your new eating habits.
- Learn to trust yourself. No matter what the external factors might have you believe, your mind is the only guide that matters. Eat when you feel hungry and relish the feeling of ‘fullness’ after a meal, instead of dreading it.
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