10 Tips for Building Healthy Intuitive Eating Habits

As being overweight and obesity becomes more widespread worldwide, millions of people promise themselves that they will finally lose weight. With no shortage of guaranteed-to-work weight-loss plans, dieters are determined to find the perfect system. However, the old ways of trimming portion sizes and eliminating entire food groups — which, for many, equates to starving themselves — seem best for short-term results.

Key takeaways:

Unfortunately, most people eventually gain back the weight — because structured plan adherence is difficult. New studies show that intuitive eating may be an effective weight-loss system as it does not require drastic dietary changes and unrealistic portion controls. By simply eating when hungry and stopping when full, people are more likely to see long-term success.

Dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created intuitive eating. Intuitive eating relies on instinctive eating habits based on satiety cues. Since behavioral changes are the key to maintaining long-term healthy and balanced nutrition, it is important to be aware of the body's cues. Therefore, people can learn to manage their nutrition without following restrictive diets. Intuitive eating has 10 principles:

1. Reject dieting culture

Intuitive eating is an alternative to dieting. Following a diet is challenging because diets are generally structured nutrition programs. What, when, and how much you would eat are decided beforehand. In intuitive eating, you can eat whatever you desire until you reach satiety. Dieting is unlikely to be helpful if behavioral changes toward healthy eating and lifestyle habits are not achieved during the dieting period.

2. Manage hunger

The body needs nutrients to function. A healthy diet provides energy and nutrients so the body can function properly. People should eat balanced meals to the point of satiety. As many plans have proven, restricting or avoiding eating increases the drive to eat later.

3. Unconditional permission to eat

Feeling guilt and shame about what you ate is not helpful. Reminding yourself that you're allowed to eat the foods you desire is more beneficial. Healthy nutrition is about balancing your food intake. Calories are not a determinant of a food's nutritional quality. Some foods are high in calories but still rich in nutrients.

Calories should not be the only factor determining your food choices. Diversity is the key to a healthy diet. Therefore, meals that combine low and high-calorie foods with food containing low and high-nutrient levels are best. Complete restriction from eating some of your favorite foods or snacks only often leads to binging.

4. Do not label food as "good" or "bad"

Intuitive eating goes against the idea of restrictive nutrition since food restrictions can cause weight cycling and damage health in the long term.

Labeling foods as "good" or "bad" is restrictive. Intuitive eating disagrees with food labeling. Shame and guilt come with eating food labeled as" bad" and can cause unhealthy relationships with foods. People starting intuitive eating are reported to enjoy so-called 'bad' foods while maintaining balance by building a healthy mindset around food.

5. Recognize satiety

Learn to trust your hunger and satiety cues. It can be helpful to be aware of your hunger levels during a meal. Therefore, if you're still hungry, eat the foods you desire. If your body signal tells you you're full, stop eating.

6. Feeling satisfaction

Eating is not just about fueling the body. Eating has cultural and physiological aspects. Therefore, it is important to discover the conditions that satisfy you when eating. Identifying this point can help you eat just the right amount to feel full — and satisfied.

7. Cope with emotions kindly

You should eat because your body needs fuel, not because you feel emotional. Sometimes people eat to cope with discomfort caused by emotional distress. However, eating to relieve uncomfortable emotions doesn't align with your body's hunger cues.

It is important to acknowledge food won't fix anxiety, loneliness, or angry feelings. However, being aware of your emotional state can help you choose other activities to manage your stress without turning to food for comfort.

8. Body acceptance

Weight is only a number on the scale. It doesn't necessarily correlate to good or poor nutrition. People can be at their ideal weight without eating as nutritiously as they should. Everyone has a healthy body-weight range. However, it is good to be aware of the health concerns surrounding obesity. On the other hand, just because someone is skinny does not mean that they are healthy.

9. Physical activities make a difference

Moving the body can feel great. Exercise is not all about calorie burning. Try to focus on the joy physical activity brings you. Additionally, moving the body boosts metabolism and increases dopamine levels which play an important role in the intuitive eating process.

10. Respect health with nutrition

Intuitive eating goes against the standard diet culture. It's important to realize that you can eat whatever food you desire — when you're hungry. Your body's internal cues should be the determinant of when you eat and when you stop eating — regardless of portion sizes. Taking advantage of a "cheat day" by indulging in some of your comfort foods won't make you unhealthy.

Consistency matters most. Trusting the journey of learning the connection between your body, mind, and soul is important.

Many diets focus on weight loss. While some of them are proven to be effective, others are pure scams. Intuitive eating doesn't promise weight loss. Instead, it aims to achieve self-discovery of one's needs for their body, mind, and nutrition.

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