Listen to Your Gut: The Benefits of Intuitive Eating
Throughout your lifetime, you’ve probably learned about at least 100 new fad diets and food trends; from the 90s’ Atkins craze to the Paleo diets of today. There are about a million different paths to follow when it comes to your diet—and here, by diet, we mean the manner in which you eat on a regular basis.
In fact, there is so much information on different nutritional styles that you may feel regularly overwhelmed. And depending on your dietary goals—whether you want to lose weight, maintain health, or amplify your nutrition—you may not know where to start.
That’s where intuitive eating comes in. Intuitive eating is a relatively new take on our body’s involvement in the nourishment process, and it may be everything you’ve been looking for in a dietary plan.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Created in 1995 by dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, this approach to eating is not, in fact, a diet. This approach asks you to tune into the rhythm and flow of your own nature; to embrace the needs of your body; to reject the fad diets that have been holding you back; and to let go of the idea that someone else can tell you what you need better than your own body can.
Intuitive eating does not involve calorie counting or macros tracking, this revolutionary take on nutrition is all about listening to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. Eat what you crave in appropriate amounts. These are the basic ideals behind intuitive eating. It isn’t about restriction, it’s about trusting yourself.
Related Article: Yo-Yo Dieting: The Science Behind Why It Never Works
Benefits of Intuitive Eating
There are many benefits of eating intuitively and learning to trust your body and its cravings. One of the biggest benefits is letting go of the diet mentality. Many of us have been dieting in one form or another for decades, trying the cabbage soup diet and following it up by the grapefruit-and-egg diet. We’ve tried it all, and they’re all equally exhausting. Intuitive eating allows you to throw those diet books out and get back to basics: your internal barometer of hunger and gut instincts.
Intuitive eating also allows you to honor your body by giving it what it needs. Restrictive diets deny you of certain nutrients that are necessary for the body to run properly, like carbohydrates. Intuitive eating allows you to nourish your body with the full spectrum of foods available.
That isn’t to say that you should eat fast food regularly based on an intuitive craving for French fries, as much as we appreciate those starchy little friends of ours.
Your Relationship with Food
Intuitive eating helps you create a healthier relationship with food. When we spend our entire lives dieting, we’re simultaneously giving food too much power and stripping our own power. We now see chocolate cake as both a delicious treat and a mortal enemy, when in fact it is simply a recipe of flour, eggs, butter, and cocoa powder.
The point is, dieting often leads to an unhealthy relationship with and distorted vision of food. When you begin eating intuitively, you again begin to see food as just that: delicious and nutritious, and not the enemy.
You’ll soon begin to stand up to those voices in your head trying to give you a hard time for putting a little cheese on your salad or finishing dinner with a slice of dessert. The ideal relationship is one of balance, where you don’t eat nothing but crusty bread, but you also don’t give yourself a hard time for enjoying a croissant.
Mindfulness & Eating
Mindfulness and body-mind connection are two of the biggest benefits of intuitive eating. When you listen to your body on a regular basis, you can’t help but become more connected to its messages.
Intuitive eating teaches you to eat until you’re full and then appreciate that feeling of fullness. You become more mindful as you remind yourself to take breaks within your delicious meal to evaluate your hunger or fullness before continuing.
Intuitive eating also helps correct some of our emotional issues surrounding food. When you learn to only eat when you’re hungry, you force yourself to confront the emotional issues that you might ordinarily treat with a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Related Article: Emotional Eating: Why You Do It & How To Stop
Eating intuitively helps you realize on a deeper level that food is meant for nourishment and not emotional healing.
While food may give you a sense of immediate comfort, it won’t actually address the emotional wounds that you wish to heal. When you begin eating intuitively and when you’re actually hungry, you’re learning to honor your emotions without downplaying them by trying to mend them with simple caloric intake.
Furthermore, intuitive eating asks you to respect your mind and body.
So put those diet books back on the shelf and throw out those questionable supplements that are designed to burn fat or block carbs. You are beautiful the way you are—and as long as you are properly providing nourishment to your body and moving it around frequently, you should feel healthy, happy, and perfect just the way you are.