Intuitive Eating

By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES

One thing we know about traditional “diets” is that they rarely work over the long-run. Following a diet can bring up feelings of guilt & shame when a person deviates from a specific plan – which is virtually guaranteed, because life happens!

Recently, more emphasis is being placed on the importance of no-diet methods of healthy eating including “intuitive eating” and “mindful eating.” These approaches are more about HOW to eat than WHAT to eat. They help foster a healthy long-term relationship with food. While they are very similar, there are some differences. Learn about them both and adopt the no-diet principle that speaks to you.

Intuitive eating:

This way of eating removes guilt and any strict rules. All foods are allowed. The term “intuitive eating” was actually coined by two dietitians in 1995. There are three core characteristics:

o Eat for physical, rather than emotional, reasons.
o Rely on hunger and satiety cues; eat when you are hungry, and stop when you feel fullness.
o You have unconditional permission to eat, as long as you feel hungry.

Mindful eating:

This involves a process of paying close attention to your actual eating experience, without guilt or judgment. It also avoids strict rules and allows all foods. A mindful approach to eating typically includes:

  • Enjoying and appreciating food by eating slowly and savoring every bite.
  • Avoiding distractions when eating so the sole focus is on enjoying the food.
  • Assessing your level of hunger, so you eat when you’re hungry and you know when to stop.

In the no-diet approach to eating, you learn to listen to and trust your body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness. You learn to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. You learn to identify subtle cues to help you both enjoy food and feel well satisfied & nourished.

Similarly, the focus on exercise is not to be rigid with getting in a specific work-out routine or number of steps, but to focus on how good and energized you feel from doing an enjoyable activity. As you take the time to truly notice and feel the benefits of being more active, you’ll be more likely to keep up with the routine than if you do it only for the purpose of losing weight.

Here are few other tips to help you on your non-diet journey:

  • There are no “good foods” and “bad foods”. Similarly, you are not “good” if you avoid certain foods, or “bad” if you eat them. Remove the judgment – both from foods and from yourself.
  • Honor your feelings without using food. Emotional eating is so common. Find ways to address your very real feelings of worry, loneliness, boredom and anger by doing something other than eating. Consider seeing a mental health specialist to talk about your feelings and thoughts.
  • Make peace with your body. Often, it is your genes that keep you from fitting in your jeans. When you respect your body, you can feel better about who you are and have more realistic expectations for healthy eating.
  • Practice! This approach may take a while to understand and fully adopt, especially if you have a history of dieting. For more help, take a look at these websites:

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This article was sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada. All content is created independently by My Weight – What To Know with no influence from Novo Nordisk.

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