- Diets don’t work
- You should only eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full
- You shouldn’t think of foods as “good” or “bad”
- You should only eat foods that you enjoy – you deserve it!
- You shouldn’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat – including you!
In today’s post, we’ll cover the last four principles of Intuitive Eating.
Principle no. 7 – Deal with Your Feelings Without Using Food
This principle is probably one of the most difficult ones to follow as you can’t just turn off your emotions.
We eat for a variety of reasons and for many people, hunger is the last one on that list. We use food to celebrate our happiest moments or to fill the void when we’re sad. We eat out of boredom, anger, stress, or just because the food is there.
Emotional eating is why all diets fail – if you don’t deal with the emotions that cause you to overeat, you will never make peace with food.
Following principle number 7 is all about dealing with your feelings without using food. It’s about analyzing yourself, recognizing the signs of emotional eating and working through your issues. The key here is to allow yourself to feel and to find alternative ways to cope with these feelings.
If you’re bored – call friends or family; if you’re sad – write down your feelings; if you’re feeling stressed – go for a short walk or run.
Principle no. 8 – Respect Your Body
Many people who turn to Intuitive Eating do so with just one goal in mind – to lose weight. They are tired of looking the way they do, many of them hate their bodies, and they just can’t wait to change their looks. But this is the reason why many of them fail when it comes to adopting these principles – when you are in the weight-loss mindset, you’re also in the diet mindset.
Instead of using Intuitive Eating as another tool to lose weight, you should first learn to accept your body the way it is NOW. It’s still OK to want to change it, but you need to adopt a positive attitude about your looks.
Why? Instead of answering that question, I’ll ask another: How likely are you going to take care of yourself if you don’t respect yourself? I guess not likely at all.
See, Intuitive Eating is all about respect – respecting your cravings, respecting your feelings, and thus respecting yourself the way you are.
Finding body positivity is hard to do, but it’s definitely something you should aim for.
Principle no. 9 – Exercise to Feel the Difference
A diet mentality often comes with an “all or nothing” exercise mentality. The day you decide to go on a diet is usually the day you decide to start exercising seven times a week. But because you link diet and exercise, when one part of your new lifestyle fails, the other fails too.
It’s true that exercising is a necessary part of the equation of weight loss. However, there are more benefits to regular workouts than just burning calories: a stronger cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, and joints, etc. But most importantly, exercise helps to relieve stress and makes us feel good!
You should try it for yourself:
If you’re not regularly exercising yet, try making low-impact workouts like swimming or walking a regular part of your life. Note how you feel before and after each exercise session. I can bet you’ll feel more energized, less stressed, happier and even healthier than before!
Physical exercise should be a way to reward your body not a way to punish it.
Principle no. 10 – Honor Your Health
You may be surprised to find that the principles of Intuitive Eating don’t give you any guidance on what to eat or what to avoid. There’s a very good reason for it: as soon as you hear specific recommendations, you’ll fall back into the diet mentality.
The first nine principles have all been about getting to know yourself – what you like, what you don’t like, what triggers cravings, etc. You have learned to respect your thoughts, your body, yourself.
And only now are you ready to honor your health.
Honoring your health means eating foods that are nutritious but also taste good. Considering nutrition is only for guidance, and it shouldn’t dictate your food choices. Remember, as soon as you start counting calories or grams of fat, you’re back in the diet mentality. Also, remember that you don’t need to eat perfectly all the time to be healthy.
The basics of good nutrition are:
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day
- Eat a variety of foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to eat only whole, unprocessed foods
- You need fats – good fats come from avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and eggs
I hope these three articles in my ‘Principles of Intuitive Eating’ series helped you see some light. It IS possible to (potentially) lose weight healthily and naturally. All you need to do is learn to listen to your body!