Guide to Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is a concept that is intended to help individuals create healthy relationships between food, mind, body and health. In practice, it may sound simplistic. However, the basic tenets are often overlooked. Significant problems with our relationship to food, maladaptive coping behaviors, eating disorders, shame/guilt about one’s appearance, and general dissatisfaction can occur when intuitive eating is not a principle of everyday life.

The basic premise of Intuitive Eating is to pay attention to your body’s hunger cues, rather than focusing on number chasing strategies such as caloric intake or counting grams of carbohydrates, fat or protein. In many ways the basic principles of Intuitive Eating are the direct opposite of dieting with specific tangible targets in mind. Intuitive Eating is not about weight. Rather, Intuitive Eating involves learning the distinction between true physical hunger cues and emotional cues, the latter of which drive compulsive eating behaviors such as overeating, binge eating, and eating in a mis-aligned manner with our values and health. Intuitive Eating involves making amends with our beliefs about food, including what food is labeled as “good,” “bad,” or “fatty.”

Some tips for incorporating Intuitive Eating into your life:

1. Rid the notion that you have to eat at set times with set portions.

2. Think of hunger much like a gas tank, with extremes of Empty and Full. Consider Empty to be a score of 0 and Full to be a score of 10. The goal is to keep your level of satiety between a 3 and 7 at all times, to ensure that you are never completely empty nor completely stuffed.

3. Address when you are eating to cope with stress, pain, sadness, anxiety, or any other emotional reason. Examine if there are other coping skills to address these emotions rather than through food behavior.

4. Spend some time exploring your own food beliefs, specifically which labels or judgments you give to certain foods that lead to rigid eating behaviors.

5. Stop counting calories, carbohydrates, fat grams etc. Pay attention to your own bodily cues for hunger. Do you notice hunger pangs in your stomach, a drop in energy, or increased irritability when you are hungry?

Intuitive eating is a guide for maintaining health and wellness.

We implore you to live well!

Dr. Justin Ross

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