In a world of social media where there are so many opinions, and many of our eating choices are being constantly scrutinized, it is nearly impossible to have a healthy relationship with food. One terrifying study revealed that most girls in the US start their first diet at age eight and that almost all women in the US have at some point taken issue with their own physical image. The problem isn’t limited to women, either. More and more men are being treated for eating disorders as well.
This obsession with dieting leads to a multitude of psychological problems that can make eating a difficult experience for anyone. Intuitive eating strives to combat those negative relationships people can have with food. Anything from guilt, self-doubt, lack of control, or even punishing ourselves with food can be overcome with intuitive eating. Here are a few steps you can take to quit dieting and rebuild that healthy relationship with food:
I know it sounds overly simple, to the point of being impossible, but it’s not. Simply stop dieting. Don’t put yourself on a diet, don’t try a new diet, don’t let your diet run your life. Nothing is off limits, nothing is required. The first and most important step to eating intuitively is to free yourself from the prison that food and society has placed you in. There are some very specific dangers that may be associated with dieting. By dropping the diet, you may be doing yourself a bigger favor than you know. Don’t create food rules for yourself. Eat what you want, when you want, how you want.
If someone asks if you’re hungry, do you look at your watch? The time of day shouldn’t dictate when we eat; our hunger level should. We’re so constantly surrounded by food that most of us can’t really remember what true, natural hunger is. Instead of eating just because it’s lunchtime, wait for your body to actually feel hungry before you eat.
Stop Vilifying Foods
Chocolate is not the enemy. Bread is not a sin. It’s easy to find countless articles warning you against certain foods, but while the intentions may be pure, the results are often harmful. In general, moderation is the key. There’s no need to deny yourself an occasional sweet treat. Take time to also look for healthy options that are equally delicious. Ancient Nutrition recipes, for example, can give you satisfying treats that won’t have you cursing the ingredients.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Just like allowing your body to feel hunger, you have to pay attention to what fullness feels like too. Just because your plate still has food on it doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean you have to have more. Take time to pause throughout your meal and listen to your body. Eat slowly and enjoy your food. When you’re full, stop eating. Simple as that.
Calories, portions, pounds, laps, minutes; just cut it all out! Eating isn’t about how many, it’s an experience. Stop thinking about how many grams of sugar is in that birthday cake and instead focus on how many years you’re celebrating on your birthday. Don’t think of exercise as a means to a calorie-burning end, think of it as a way to give your body more energy. Focus on feelings, not numbers.
Experience Your Food
In our busy lives, it can be easy to grab something on the go or to rely on a granola bar while we work. Don’t let food become secondary; take time to actually enjoy what you’re eating. A carefully constructed meal is a symphony of flavors and they all play an important role in the experience of a great dish. As you slow down and appreciate what you’re eating and how it’s making you feel, you will begin to naturally crave and enjoy healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Eat For Your Mind, Body, and Soul
Intuitive eating isn’t just eating what’s good for you physically, it’s a completely holistic approach to eating. Your body will crave things that help to build strong muscles and bones, your mind will want to enjoy bold and rich new flavors, and your soul will yearn for something that is so much more than a meal. Listen to every part of you that needs nourishment. Enjoy your food, don’t limit yourself unnecessarily, and respect your body’s feelings of hunger and fullness. With these in mind, instead of being susceptible to harmful diet fads, you can retrain your body to eat intuitively and truly enjoy a good meal.