Monday, March 21, 2011

Intuitive Eating Explained

I have mentioned the words "intuitive eating" a lot on this blog, but it occurred to me that perhaps this might be greek to a few people. After all, less than a year ago I had never heard of intuitive eating myself.

The most common reaction I get from people who first hear about intuitive eating is that I'm giving up. I'm embracing the idea of spending my life extremely overweight so that I can indulge in all the sweets I can get my hands on.

My husband used to call me his hummingbird because of my obsession with sugar. During all my years of restricting and dieting I would sneak sugar whenever possible. I looked for ways to always be getting more sugar into my diet. I could never stop at just one piece. I had to eat the whole package. My family all knows me as the one with the sweet tooth. But since I have begun intuitive eating I eat a piece of candy here or there, or a dessert when I feel like it, but I'm able to stop after just a small amount. In fact there are times I have passed up on dessert altogether.

Here are the details.  While it is true that when it comes to intuitive eating there are no rules, that doesn't mean eating with abandon. Calorie counting and forbidden foods go out the window. If you want ice cream and french fries for dinner that is completely allowed and acceptable, no guilt. However, it is called "intuitive" for a reason. The idea is that you are getting back in touch with your body.

The hope is that you will stop eating when you are full. You'll only eat when you are physically hungry. And you'll eat exactly what your body wants.

How often do you eat something just because it's available? What about eating mindlessly until you realize you are so full you might pop? And have you ever eaten a ridiculous amount of something because "tomorrow you're going on a diet and you'll never get to eat this again?"

When eating intuitively you listen to your body making sure to only eat when you are hungry and to stop when you are full. Sounds simple, but it's amazing how difficult this can be for us to actually put into practice.

The other side of this coin involves eating what your body wants. So let's say you did eat ice cream and french fries for dinner, how did you feel after the meal was over? Did you feel energized? Did you feel healthy, happy, nourished? Because that is how we want to feel after a meal. The more time you spend observing how the food you eat makes you feel the more you want to make choices that help you feel your best.

People who practice intuitive eating find their weight battle at an end. They no longer lose and gain like they are on a roller coaster. Their weight naturally stops where it should be.  There is no "giving up" involved. Rather, intuitive eating is the ultimate form of healthy eating in order to lose weight and give your body the nourishment it actually wants and needs.

Read this post by Dr. Solomon from Nourishing the Soul for more on the subject of "giving up."