How to implement intuitive eating in your life

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I get it—we’re all tired of dieting fads. They’re outdated, harmful and straight up damaging to society. Let’s talk about intuitive eating.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is an evidence-based approach to eating designed to help you normalize eating habits and your relationship with food. At its core, intuitive eating means listening to your body and eating when you are physically hungry, and stopping when you’re satisfied. Intuitive eating can help you break the cycle of guilt and shame that dieting creates.

Intuitive eating is gaining traction because people are fed up with diet culture. In 2019, the diet industry was valued at more than $72 billion. Dieting leaves you distracted and distant from life events.

How sad to be at a wedding and be more concerned about the amount of calories in the wedding cake than on celebrating the new bride and groom. Intuitive eating can help you reconnect with yourself and others, while still enjoying all the foods you like.

The 10 Principles of intuitive eating, according to the original authors

  1. Reject the diet mentality
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Feel your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Cope with your emotions without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise—feel the difference
  10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition

Tips for not giving into cravings

  • Eliminating guilt and shame—When you take the guilt and shame out of eating, it can help reduce how much you consume in one sitting.
  • Developing ways to cope with emotions—A lot of non-intuitive eating comes when you’re bored or sad. Try taking a walk or calling your friend the next time you’re tempted to eat when you’re not hungry.
  • Pay attention to bodily signals—When eating a traditionally “off limit” item like pizza, allow yourself to have some in moderation, knowing that you can have more later, when you’re hungry.

Easy steps to get started

  • Eliminate distractions like your phone or TV while eating—This can help you pay more attention to your body signals.
  • Unfollow people who promote diet trends—Some social media influencers, celebrities and trainers can promote fast weight lost, even though 95% of dieters regain the weight, plus more.
  • Create your own hunger scale—Identifying where you fall on the hunger scale can be beneficial when you’re deciding if it’s the right time to eat.

Most importantly, give yourself permission to eat all foods in balance, variety and moderation. You’re not a bad person because you ate a “bad” food, like a cookie or a piece of pizza. Nor are you a good person just because you ate an apple. Food does not determine your worth or value as an individual.

Erin Holley is a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.