Written by: Leanne Richardson BASc MPH Student, Nutrition and Dietetics
Reviewed by: Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Summer is on the horizon which means it’s time to begin a strict diet and exercise routine to prepare our beach bodies for bikini season! How many times have you heard people set similar intentions? I’ve heard it more than I count.
Dieting can cause frustration, guilt, and distrust in food. In this blog, I will be discussing intuitive eating – a transforming, realistic and diet-free approach to creating a healthy relationship with food, body and mind.
The content from this blog is adapted from Evelyn Tribone and Elyse Resch’s, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works”. This book is for anyone frustrated with the continuous dieting cycle of weight-loss and re-gain and looking to rediscover the satisfaction of eating.
“The Intuitive Eater is an unaffected eater.” – Tribone & Resch (2012)
What does this mean exactly?
Intuitive eaters listen to their internal hunger cues and eat a variety of foods without feeling guilty for it. Think about it this way. As a baby you were a natural intuitive eater – unaffected by societal views on food, dieting and body image. You ate what your body needed to grow and develop. Research shows pre-school age children have an inherent ability to regulate their eating according to what their bodies need for proper growth. Somewhere along the line, we grew up bombarded with nutrition and weight messaging from magazines, television, social media, advertisements and health professionals. We lost touch with our internal cues and fell victim to the diet industry that claims to have a “quick fix” to all of our weight concerns.
Intuitive eating puts dieting to rest and allows you to reclaim the healthy relationship with food that you used to have as a child. You have the power – all you have to do is act!
Here are three simple tips to becoming more intuitive this summer and beyond.
1. Listen to your body. Listen to your body. Listen to your body.
Yes, tip #1 is written three times because this is arguably the most important step to being an intuitive eater. Our bodies know best and stepping back to reflect on what you are feeling will help you become more aware of why you are eating.
Practice eating regularly throughout the day and listen to the hunger and fullness cues you feel. Eat when you start to feel hungry but before becoming starving and stop eating when you are comfortably full. Remove distractions while eating such as cellphones and screens. This is easier said than done and does take time to practice. Busy schedules can make it difficult to listen to our inner hunger and fullness cues. As you start your intuitive eating journey, keep a food journal to explore your unique eating patterns and record what you are doing or feeling to become aware the reasons why you may be eating.
2. Get outside and moving with activities you ENJOY.
The key word here is “enjoy”. If you truly enjoy an activity, chances are you will be more motivated to do it. Intuitive exercise includes focusing on the immediate effects of exercise and refraining from weight loss as a primary motivation. Weight loss goals take the enjoyment out of exercise and can make you feel like you failed if you don’t achieve them. You will be less likely to hit the snooze button for your morning bike ride if you focus on the immediate and intrinsic benefits to moving your body including better mood, lower stress and better sleep.
Exercise does not have to be at a gym, although this is one option. Try hiking, swimming, biking, dancing, YouTube fitness classes, gardening, parking far away, or anything you can think of that gets you moving and feeling great! Mix up your routine, listen to your body and learn to love being active again.
3. Show your mind and your body RESPECT.
Respect that you cannot fail at intuitive eating, and setbacks are an opportunity for growth. It takes time to practice being more aware of our eating patterns, and our physiological feelings of hunger and fullness. There will be some bumps in the road but take the time to enjoy the learning process.
So how should we go about getting a beach body ready for summer?
1. You have a body
2. Go to the beach
It’s that simple.
Have you practiced intuitive eating before? Share your experiences in the comments below!
If you would like to learn more about mindful eating, check out this link for more information. Skip to the last page for a mindful eating journal template:
Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive eating. A revolutionary program that works. New York: St Martin’s Griffin; 2016.