Stop the calorie calculations, limiting the portion sizes and differentiating food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Start eating what you want to eat, how much ever you want to eat and whenever you want to eat. Isn’t this a dream come true for many of us? It makes us tear away the layers of dieting principles, get far off from intermittent fasting routines and care only about what we would like to eat. This scenario is not imaginative and forms the basis of what we call as ‘intuitive eating’.
Ditch the Deal
Early man had no concept of dieting as finding food was a monstrous task by itself. He ate whatever was edible whenever he found it. There was no limit to his portions and he ate until his stomach was full. This forms the basis of intuitive eating too. Intuitive eating is eating whatever you want whenever you want to. Its just the opposite of dieting-no calorie measurements, carb counting, judging a food for its calorie or nutritive value or measuring waistline every day. It does seem weird after all the meticulous calorie calculations carried out for designing the perfect diet chart for your requirement-weight loss, weight gain, diseases or disorders.
Born unto this world, we learn the art of eating, to eat when we are hungry and to stop when we are full. The clean plate club sometimes disrupts our judgement of these cues and sometimes, growing up can also change them. This is where intuitive eating comes to our rescue. While it might not be easy to understand and pursue, fixing upon one thing in your mind that intuitive eating is just the opposite of the food habits you have been taught will help you get out of the challenges of dieting.
Intuitive Eating Ideologies
Intuitive eating works on certain principles and they include rejecting the idea of a diet, learning to read hunger and fullness cues, knowing your satiety, never differentiating food as good or bad, not succumbing to emotional hunger, respecting your body and realizing that each of us have a unique physique whose structure cannot be changed, exercising regularly, refraining from tracking fitness updates via apps or trackers, realizing that no food is off limits and appreciating a healthy body.
This is a concept that bans the idea of dieting and looks into each food type rationally helping people differentiate between physical and emotional feelings. Rather than eating owing to emotions such as happiness, sadness, joy or anger intuitive eating helps you eat based on the needs of your body. It brings in a routine where we eat because we are hungry and not because the clock shows that its time for breakfast or lunch. Also, please let go of the feeling that intuitive eating is a platform to enjoy as much food as you want-it does involve being mindful of what you eat. The advantage offered here despite the idea of mindfulness is that intuitive eating doesn’t restrict your mind from anything that you desire. You don’t feel guilty after eating a piece of cake or feel bad after consuming a milkshake rather it helps you enjoy the deliciousness of the food surrounding you.
Dieting throughout the year or restricting yourself from all your favorite foods will not work out in the long run. It tires your mind and body, puts you into depression and anxiety and even isolates you from social gatherings and parties as these involve high-calorie foods and finally, might push you into eating disorders too.
Good For All?
Intuitive eating too needs some planning and a certain level of execution. For instance, people with diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems or pregnant women cannot blindly follow the ideologies of this eating form and they need to check it up with their physician to make slight variations in their diet to suit the health requirements of the body. We don’t have anything called as an ‘ideal’ diet and it all depends on the individual. Even when two different people have similar nutrient requirements, weight ranges and height, the diet prescribed would definitely be different. Even if the diet prescription remains the same hypothetically its effect on the individual varies greatly.
Intuitive eating also comes as an eye opener to parents who choose to remove certain food groups completely for some reason. The latest buzz about food trends and diets frighten many of us who finally result in removing carbs or fats completely off our diet plan. Also, intuitive eating might not be immediately suitable for someone coming out of an eating disorder (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/02/intuitive-eating/583357/) as these individuals’ hunger and satiety cues don’t fall into place correctly but are ruled by their opinions on the different foods that they eat. Hence, a proper meal chart would best serve to bring these individuals to normal eating routines slowly after which intuitive eating might be introduced.
Mind you, if someone tells that intuitive eating is the best way to lose weight, they are not talking about eating according to your intuition but once again trying to force you into dieting. Anything can happen with intuitive eating-weight might increase, decrease or stay unchanged. Studies have shown that intuitive eating proves to be less effective as a weight loss measure while certain studies do show that it does improve the body image of young women. So, intuitive eating might be the best course to be followed once you reach an ideal body weight with the help of nutritionists and dietitians at www.firsteatright.com. By then, you realize your hunger and satiety cues, refrain from eating for emotional comfort and start realizing about your own body.
While we feel proud that intuitive eating is the latest trend if you think deeply it’s the way infants and children eat. They eat when they feel like eating, choose whatever they want to eat and stop when they feel like stopping. Actually, we are all born with an inbuilt capacity for intuitive eating. Why don’t we go back to the basics and get it sorted out?
The Latest diet trend is not dieting: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/02/intuitive-eating/583357/
Intuitive eating: How eating what you want can be better than dieting: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2019/03/22/intuitive-eating-how-eating-what-you-want-can-better-than-dieting/3163410002/
Is intuitive eating the anti-diet to end all diets? https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/intuitive-eating-anti-diet-fads-emotional-healthy-food-hunger-fullness-exercise-a7560201.html
Intuitive eating leads backlash against diet culture: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47404019
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.