Diets Are A Thing Of The Past: Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Intuitive Eating

Every year there seems to be a new diet craze. You probably heard about paleo, keto, the 16:8, and the alkaline diet. There are so many others, it’s making our heads spin! With millions of people willing to try anything in the hope of losing weight, it’s clear to see why there are so many diet plans available. Often times, these fad diets help you lose weight in the short-term, only for the extra pounds to come back on as soon as you come off the diet. The potential solution? Intuitive eating, which stops the need for cheat days, restrictive dieting and deprivation. Hundreds are swearing by this new diet craze, but don’t be fooled. It’s not actually a diet plan. It’s the complete opposite!

The Non-Diet Approach

As many people are realizing that dieting is not the answer to their weight issues, non-diet approaches are becoming more and more popular. Intuitive eating is one of the most popular ways people are tackling obesity these days. This nutrition philosophy involves eating mindfully and paying attention to your own personal hunger cues. These include encouraging people to “honor their hunger” and “respecting their fullness” in an effort to eat when they’re hungry and stop once the body is full and satisfied.

Weight Loss

Although research hasn’t linked intuitive eating with weight loss, it has been shown to have other physical and mental benefits. “Intuitive eating has been linked with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and reduced markers of inflammation,” Dawn Clifford, a registered dietitian and associate professor of health sciences at Northern Arizona University, told Healthline. She goes on to add that the mental health benefits include improved body image and lower levels of depression. “In terms of mental health, intuitive eating is associated with improved body image, lower levels of depression, and self-esteem,” she explained.

(Re)Learning To Listen

One challenge that many chronic dieters tend to have is learning to listen to the cues from their own bodies after they have been ignoring them for years. Using intuitive eating strategies, people can re-learn how to listen to the cravings and fullness of their own bodies. Melissa Majudmar explains, “I try to teach people to connect with their body and hear and feel signals that are there.” In essence, eating different foods will produce different effects on a person’s energy levels, attention, span, and overall mood.

Who Shouldn’t Try It

Majumdar said, “I have patients who have dieted their whole life and really struggled with their weight and don’t necessarily know when they’re hungry and full anymore because they’ve kind of squashed those feelings.” But getting rid of these habits is no easy task. In fact, some people should probably refrain from intuitive eating altogether. For some, food insecurity is a real issue. Not knowing where your next meal is coming from can be pretty stressful and can affect the body’s cues. People in this situation should not try intuitive eating.

Where To Begin

The biggest learning curve for many that start out with intuitive eating is having self-compassion. There will be missteps, old preconceptions, and habits to break. You may experience guilt after eating “bad” foods, for example. But if you do, don’t beat yourself up! This is the best time to get curious about your own body’s needs and then think about what you can do differently next time.

Seek Professional Help

To get yourself started, start doing some independent research and read articles online. Find out more about the philosophy, intended purposes, and its principles. Understanding this groundwork will help you decide if this approach is right for you. The next step is to find a professional who can help. Working with a dietician can help you feel accountable, unravel your emotional connections with food and learn the process in the correct manner.

The Bottom Line

Intuitive eating is not a complicated theory, with scales, weekly weigh-ins, carb restrictions, or judgment. Dawn Clifford explains the motivation behind intuitive eaters as, “someone who doesn’t obsess or stress about food, but simply enjoys a variety and eats at regular intervals.” In essence, intuitive eating is a way of approaching food and getting back to a healthy relationship with food and your own body.