Ask the Dietitian: "What is intuitive eating?"
Rediscover the pleasures of eating.Welcome to our series, Ask the Dietitian, where our in-house registered dietitian Kristin Neusel answers all of your burning nutrition and diet-related questions. Kristin is here to inform and empower you in all the food choices you make for yourself.
Interested in submitting a question to Kristin? Email it to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!
As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve spoken with so many clients struggling to lose weight. They’ve tried every single fad diet and have yo-yo’d with successes and failures. But most of the time, they struggle with finding something that works long-term.
Did you know a successful weight loss is when you have kept the weight off for two years?
By bouncing back and forth with your weight, you’re actually hurting your metabolism and making it more challenging to lose weight the next time.
When a client tells me they are following a certain fad diet, like Atkins, Intermittent fasting, the Zone diet, or the latest one Adele just had success with (the Sirtfood diet), I typically just listen.
When they want my advice and ask me what I think about it I ask them a few questions:
- What healthy habits are you learning from this ‘diet’?
- Is this something you can do long-term?
I try and encourage clients towards something that will be sustainable long-term so that they’re not coming back to me in 2 years saying they need my help again. If one of the fad diets works for them, that’s great! If not, we will need to explore other options.
You should never feel hungry, deprived, or have cravings because you can’t eat a certain food or food group due to a “diet”.
Intuitive EatingThis leads me to intuitive eating, a long-term solution to having a healthy relationship with food. What exactly is intuitive eating, though?
There are ten principles1 I’ll describe below:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Feel your fullness
- Cope with your emotions and kindness
- Respect your body
- Movement- feel the difference
- Honor your health- gentle nutrition
The principles work in two key ways2:
- By helping you cultivate attunement to the physical sensations that arise from within your body to get both your biological and psychological needs met, and...
- Removing the obstacles and disruptors to attunement, which usually come from the mind in the form of rules, beliefs, and thoughts.
Intuitive eating helps to free yourself from chronic dieting and rediscover the pleasures of eating.
I’ve had so many clients who do intermittent fasting tell me they’re starving in the morning, ‘but they get used to feeling famished’. And on the other end of the spectrum, many clients tell me they’ve done extreme calorie-deficit diets or macronutrient deficit diets, lost weight, then plateaued and ended up right back where they were before. It’s kind of like the friend you knew who had very strict parents, and when they went to college and had freedom, they went a little crazier than the kids who had more freedom!
By restricting yourself so intensely, you end up having “cheat days” and go crazy because you have been so strict with your eating patterns- this is something we want to avoid. By listening to your body, not depriving yourself of adequate nutrition, and having occasional indulgences, you prevent yourself from having these “cheat days”.
Intuitive eating helps to free yourself from chronic dieting and rediscover the pleasures of eating. Created and written by Evelyn Tribole, MS RDN CEDRD-S, and Elyse Resch, MS RDN CEDRD-S, FAND, the intuitive eating approach has been adopted by many health and wellness professionals. In fact, you can even work with a healthcare professional who is certified in Intuitive Eating. To learn more, you can check out www.intuitiveeating.org.
The process of intuitive eating is a practice, which honors both mental and physical health. Intuitive Eating is aligned with Health at Every Size because the pursuit of intentional weight loss is a failed paradigm, which creates health problems: including weight stigma, weight cycling, and eating disorders. All bodies deserve dignity and respect2.
There are no eliminations of any food groups, foods in general, macronutrients, or the like. All foods fit, and intuitive eating really focuses on building that healthy relationship with eating. If you are sick of yo-yo dieting and not finding anything that has worked for you, give intuitive eating a try!