healthy nutrition

Intuitive eating: what is it, basic principles and benefits of diet for our health!

In the course of our lives we have all tried at least 10 new weight loss diets or food trends. From the Atkins diet of the 90s to the keto diet that is becoming increasingly popular these days. In fact, there are so many forms of nutrition that it is easy to lose track of things. Unfortunately, 90% of diets fail and less than 1% of women worldwide manage to lose weight permanently. What if we tell you that you can eat anything you want and still stay healthy? That there are no “good” or “bad” foods? Intuitive eating is the exact opposite of any diet and the connection between our body and mind is paramount. You learn to eat mindfully and without feeling guilty. How to learn to eat intuitively, which are the basic principles and the numerous health benefits, you will find out in our article!

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The diet mentality is firmly entrenched in the minds of many women. Constantly counting calories, weighing our food or removing certain macros from the menu – all of this has a negative effect on our psyche and cannot function in the long term. According to a study carried out by the journal “Body Image”, only about 15% of women are satisfied with their weight. Giving our body what it wants is not only healthy, it makes us happier. Rather, intuitive eating is referred to as an anti-diet and there are no guidelines about what or when to eat. There are no calorie counting or prohibited foods, but there are 10 basic principles that make up the core philosophy of this method.

Intuitive Eating – How Exactly Does It Work And Is It Healthy?

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Being able to eat chocolate, chips or pizza and still stay healthy – just sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? However, eating with pleasure takes a lot of practice, and it can take a while to get there. In reality, we were all born intuitive eaters. Think of the babies, for example – they cry when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full. Whether through diets, advertising, social media or for other reasons – the majority of us have forgotten how to pay attention to the signals of our own body over time. The concept of intuitive eating was introduced in 1955 by nutritionists Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. The main aim of the anti-diet is to re-establish the connection to our body. Suddenly there is no longer any food that is healthy or unhealthy and there is no one but us who determines what and when we eat.

Listen to your gut instinct

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With intuitive eating, you only eat when you are really hungry and only until you are full, but not stuffed. The concept is a long-term change in our eating habits and our subconscious plays a decisive role in this. If you want to learn to eat intuitively, it is best to start from scratch. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about calories and dieting. Whether consciously or unconsciously – this information influences our eating behavior and not in the good way. Numerous studies have shown that intuitive eating is much healthier compared to restrictive diets. Since there aren’t any specific recipes, nutrition plans, or strict instructions, it can be a bit confusing at first. Hence, it is important to know your body and the difference between hunger and appetite. Intuitive eating is not the direct goal of weight loss, but rather a healthy relationship with food – both physical and psychological.

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The first thing you should know is the difference between physical and emotional hunger. When we are really hungry, our body sends us signals that it needs food – the stomach starts growling, we slowly get tired or irritable. Emotional hunger, on the other hand, is when that feeling is driven by different emotions or boredom. Every time before you reach for food, ask yourself first whether you are eating out of hunger. If the answer is no then leave it. Eating intuitively is a long journey and it takes a lot of work to get to a place where we can let go of the dieting mentality. We need to take a huge emotional leap and let go of the desire to control our weight.

The 10 basic principles of intuitive eating

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As mentioned earlier, there are no prohibitions when it comes to eating intuitively and it is all about maintaining a healthy relationship with our bodies and eating habits. The 10 basic principles of nutrition should support people on this long journey and help them to work for and not against their bodies.

  • 1. Get used to the diet mentality. – Numerous studies have already confirmed several times that no diet works in the long term. Rather, they lead to food cravings and make us feel like failures once we have eaten something “forbidden”. Clear your mind of these thoughts and throw away any magazines and books that give you false hopes that you can lose weight quickly and healthily.
  • 2. Honor your hunger and pay attention to your own hunger signals – Hunger is not your enemy – it is a perfectly normal biological process. Our body knows best when it needs energy in the form of food. Ignoring these signals can lead to cravings, followed by binge eating and guilt. So always eat when you are hungry – regardless of whether your last meal was 1 or 6 hours ago.

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  • 3. Make peace with the food – Stop the eating struggle and give yourself unconditional permission to eat anything you feel like eating. When you are on a diet, certain foods are labeled as prohibited and unhealthy and are completely eliminated from the menu. However, if at some point you give in to the desire, it can lead to overeating and feelings of guilt. Once you know that you can always treat yourself to some chocolate or a piece of cake, break free of this vicious circle and all these goodies slowly lose their charm. Of course, it is possible that you will resort to it more frequently during the conversion phase, but the greed for fast food and sweets is slowly disappearing. To help you learn to eat intuitively, ask yourself the following questions after each meal: Did I like it? Am i fed up How do I feel after eating?

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  • 4. Challenge the food police – The food police are all those voices in your head telling you that it is okay to eat less and that some foods are bad for you. The principle above, “making peace with eating”, is about giving yourself physical permission to eat anything. On the other hand, when challenging the food police, you should learn to give yourself emotional permission to do so. Only when you banish these thoughts can you develop natural and satisfying eating habits.
  • 5. Pay attention to your saturation signals – Intuitive eating is not just about eating when you are hungry, but also about stopping when you are already full. But recognizing the feeling of satiety is actually not that easy and it can take a while before you can notice it again. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the body to recognize that you are full. It is therefore important to take your time and focus only on the meal. Take small breaks in between and ask yourself how full you are on a scale from 1 to 10.

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  • 6. Pay attention to the satisfaction factor – Eat Everything You Love! First, ask yourself what you want to eat, not what you should. Enjoying every single bite will increase your confidence and make you feel more satisfied and happier. Eating intuitively also means learning to turn every single meal into a real pleasure experience.
  • 7. No emotional eating –  Chocolate or ice cream because you are sad or a bag of chips as a reward after a long day at the office – does that sound familiar? Many people use food to cope with certain emotions or to distract themselves from problems. Fear, anger, loneliness, and boredom are emotions that we all experience in the course of our lives. Eating might comfort you for a brief moment, but it won’t solve your problems or make those feelings go away. Find other healthier ways to manage your emotions. Emotional eating can often lead to overeating and feelings of guilt.

Intuitive eating is designed to help you accept and love yourself and your body

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  • 8.Respect your body – Your body is as unique as you are and you have to accept that. Just as a size 38 person might not expect to squeeze into size 36 shoes, it is pointless to have such height expectations. Respecting your body begins with realizing everything it does for you. So stop tormenting him with diets. Focus on the following 3 aspects: love, connection and caring. Love is loving yourself even if you wish your body was different. Connection and caring is about being on the same team with your body and giving it what it asks.

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  • 9. See exercise and sport as something that is good for you – Everyone knows that sport and exercise are healthy. However, intuitive eating is not about finding the exercises that will burn the most calories or the most fat. Exhausting and extreme training as well as hours on the treadmill or cross trainer are a thing of the past. Instead, opt for a sport that you enjoy and that energizes you.
  • 10. Stay healthy with a gentle diet – Food should taste good and after consuming it you should feel good and not guilty. Reach foods that nourish your body while satisfying your taste buds at the same time. The bar of chocolate or the few cookies will not make you fat or sick overnight.

What are the benefits of intuitive eating for our health?

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According to numerous scientific studies, intuitive eating can affect both our emotional and physical health. Research links the form of nutrition with increased concentration and energy. When you stop worrying about food, you can focus much better on other priorities in life. Here are the most important advantages at a glance:

  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Greater self-esteem and satisfaction
  • Improved metabolism
  • Better body image
  • Lower rates of emotional eating and food cravings
  • The food tastes better

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