Repair your relationship with food by following these 10 principles.
As I wrote last week, at the beginning of each year, millions of us make a resolution to improve our health and lose weight. The most common way people intend to lose this weight is through a dieting approach.
These diets are often extreme. My Team and I have personally experimented with multiple popular dieting apps and saw that many of them recommend an approach that would result in weight loss of over 6%-10% of your body weight per month, regardless of your starting weight, which can be dangerous. Not to mention it’s unsustainable. Many people bounce right back to where they started because of the physiological processes that are at play.
Another reason why diets are often unsuccessful is because they’re based on restrictions. A restriction-based approach can, counterintuitively, increase the likelihood that you obsess over the very thing that you’re restricting, which is referred to as ironic process theory. These thoughts can then lead to feelings of shame and low self-worth.
To repair the toxic relationship that many people have with food and eating, I encourage an anti-dieting approach by building healthy habits. Adopting the principles of intuitive eating can help.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is a non-dieting philosophy that was originally introduced in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche, who view every person as the ultimate expert of what their body needs. Their philosophy has 10 principles to reset our relationship with food and eating.
The general idea is that we are the only ones who can feel and understand what our bodies are telling us. It’s ultimately up to us to learn to interpret these signals to make choices about what is best for us at a particular moment and time. One way to become in tune with our bodies is by practicing mindful eating.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
- Reject the Diet Mentality. It is full of false hopes and promises.
- Honor Your Hunger. Keep it in balance by eating nutrient dense foods that sustain your energy and crowd out the desire to snack and eat less healthier options.
- Make Peace with Food. Give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy food again. This helps to prevent these uncontrollable cravings that can lead to binging after extreme dieting approaches.
- Challenge the Food Police. Free yourself from that restriction-based mentality that leads to feelings of shame and low self-esteem.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Remind yourself that it’s okay to find food pleasurable. Denying this aspect makes us vulnerable to the strong sensations that certain foods can cause, which again, fuels that cycle of all-or-nothing dieting.
- Feel Your Fullness. Trust in your ability to learn, understand, and interpret your body’s hunger signals.
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness. Acknowledge the ways you may have internalized society’s harmful ideas about your body and eating, while practicing self-compassion to overcome negative emotions that may drive your eating behaviors.
- Respect Your Body. Drop unrealistic expectations that are harmful to your body and mind and ultimately prevent you from achieving a healthy lifestyle.
- Movement — Feel the Difference. Remember that extreme exercise can be just as harmful as extreme dieting. Learn to recognize and interpret signals from your body that are connected to movement, just as you would with food.
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition. Let go of the idea of perfectionism. True progress often involves making lots of mistakes. Mistakes are not bad. They provide an opportunity to learn more about yourself and design a more effective process.
The Path Towards Healing and Better Health
Remember that we can’t achieve health and happiness over night. It’s a lifelong journey and it requires work. Make that work easier by establishing healthy habits and empowering yourself to make decisions about what, when, and how you eat.
Only you can determine what is best for your body, so why not start listening to it rather than judging it?
Embracing Intuitive Eating to Heal our Bodies and Minds was originally published in HEAL • THY • HABITS on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.