I recently received my bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and I am currently enrolled in the Master of Dietetics at the University of Vermont. I learned through my four years as an undergraduate how challenging people's relationship with food is. We learned how to educate and learn about nutrition from a weight-inclusive and anti-diet approach, following an intuitive eating lens.
But what is intuitive eating? And how is it any different from any other diet out there?
In a world dominated by fad diets, calorie counting, and rigid eating regimens, it's easy to develop a tumultuous relationship with food. We often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of guilt, shame, and negativity when it comes to our dietary choices. Enter intuitive eating – a revolutionary approach that not only transforms the way we nourish our bodies but also liberates us from the chains of food-related negativity. In this blog, we'll delve into the ten principles of intuitive eating and explore how adopting this mindset can break you free from food guilt and negative feelings. (These principles are not created by me, but rather my interpretation. Here is the resource that was used)
Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality
Intuitive eating begins with a bold step: rejecting the diet mentality. Bid farewell to the idea that certain foods are "good" while others are "bad." This shift in mindset allows you to release the guilt associated with indulging in your favorite treats. When you free yourself from the confines of dieting, you open the door to embracing a balanced and compassionate relationship with food.
Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger
Your body is your ally, not your adversary. Intuitive eating encourages you to listen to its cues. Ignoring hunger can lead to overeating later, triggering feelings of guilt. By honoring your hunger, you pave the way for a healthier relationship with food and a greater sense of control over your choices.
Principle 3: Make Peace with Food
Banish the "forbidden fruit" mentality. When no food is off-limits, you alleviate the burden of guilt that often accompanies indulgence. By giving yourself unconditional permission to eat, you empower yourself to make choices based on your body's needs and desires, rather than external rules.
Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police
We all have an internal "food police" that scrutinizes our eating habits. Intuitive eating encourages you to challenge this critical voice and replace it with self-compassion. Treating yourself with kindness and understanding, even when you make choices that aren't aligned with your healthiest intentions, erases the negativity associated with food.
Principle 5: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Food should be a source of pleasure, not anxiety. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and enjoyment that each meal brings. When you savor your food, you naturally become more attuned to your body's fullness cues, preventing overeating and subsequent guilt.
Principle 6: Feel Your Fullness
Learning to recognize when you're comfortably full is a key intuitive eating principle. This skill enables you to avoid overeating, preventing those moments of regret and self-criticism that often accompany excessive consumption.
Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food
Negative emotions can trigger mindless eating, leading to guilt and remorse. Intuitive eating equips you with healthier coping mechanisms, such as journaling, meditation, or seeking support from friends and loved ones. By addressing your emotions directly, you reduce the need to turn to food for comfort.
Principle 8: Respect Your Body
Your body is unique and deserving of love and respect. Intuitive eating encourages you to embrace your body's natural shape and size, without constantly striving for an unrealistic ideal. When you accept yourself as you are, you create a foundation of positivity that extends to your relationship with food.
Principle 9: Movement - Feel the Difference
Embrace an active lifestyle and savor the transformation. Redirect your attention towards the sensations of moving your body, rather than fixating on the calories burned during a workout. By tuning into the positive feelings that exercise brings, like newfound energy, you can be the deciding factor between hopping out of bed for an invigorating morning stroll or giving in to the temptation of hitting the snooze button.
Principle 10: Honor Your Health Using Gentle Nutrition
Make choices around food that make you feel good but also nourish your mind, body, and soul. One snack, one meal, or one day of eating will not suddenly cause a nutrient deficiency or cause you to be "unhealthy". It's the consistency over time around your eating that counts and makes a difference in your overall health.
Intuitive eating is not just a diet – it's a transformative mindset that can liberate you from the clutches of food guilt and negative feelings. By rejecting diets, honoring your body's cues, making peace with food, and nurturing self-compassion, you embark on a journey towards a healthier and more balanced relationship with nourishment. Embracing intuitive eating principles empowers you to break free from the cycle of negativity, leading to a more joyful, fulfilling, and guilt-free experience with food.
What does it have to do with physical therapy?
Incorporating intuitive eating principles into your life can create a harmonious synergy between your physical therapy journey and your approach to nourishment. By nurturing a positive mindset, cultivating body awareness, and prioritizing self-care, you set the stage for a successful and fulfilling path toward improved physical health and well-being. Remember that your physical therapist can provide personalized guidance that complements your intuitive eating journey and supports your specific rehabilitation goals. We know some amazing dietitians that foster these principles and can support your goals for full-body balance.