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Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating

A judgement free way to eat


Do you put yourself under pressure when eating; studying calorie information and ingredients lists and perhaps eat sweet things with feelings of guilt? If this rings true for you, maybe an intuitive eating approach would help you feel more relaxed and enjoy what you are eating. But what does “intuitive eating” actually mean? According to the National Eating Disorders Association, intuitive eating is about trusting your body to make food choices that feel good for you, without judging yourself on the influence of diet culture.  It is based on the belief that we can take account of our personal needs and trust our own bodies.


With intuitive eating, there are no strict rules to obey or no foods that are off limits. Instead, we relearn how to listen to the natural signals that our body gives us when it is hungry or full. In fact, young children are the best role models in this regard. They are intuitive eaters from birth. They eat when they are hungry and stop as soon as they feel full. They really don’t care about calories or other restrictions. But, as adults, we gradually unlearn this innate behavior and we allow ourselves to be guided by learned conventions.  For example, we treat ourselves to a dessert only as a “reward” after having a salad and we divide foods into “good” and “bad” food. It can take a while to free ourselves from these thoughts and to engage with a more intuitive style of eating. So let’s listen to our “gut feeling” instead. Is your stomach rumbling? Do you feel tired? Then rather than trying to suppress the hunger with a glass of water, try simply eating something. Your body needs energy and will guide you.


How does it actually feel to be full? Find out how you can better recognize this natural feeling again. This will help you learn how to eat more consciously and more mindfully. Forget about typical thoughts, such as “I need to clear my plate” or “today, I’m just going to eat half a slice of cake”. Typical signs of fullness are a pleasant and comforting feeling of contentment, a reduced appetite and a slight feeling of fatigue. Tip: During your next meal, consciously take your time, concentrate on your gut and ignore the smartphone and TV while you are eating.


Seeing food as a friend rather than an enemy.  A helpful step on the way to intuitive eating is a positive attitude to meals. Rather than focusing on calories and nutrients, engage all your senses on the pleasure of eating. How does the meal taste? How does it feel to bite into a crunchy apple, luscious chocolate cake or wholesome wholegrain bread? How satisfied did the meal leave you? Eating means pleasure and enjoyment. Anyone who thinks that without constant moderation we would definitely polish off any amount of sweet things, is wrong. The opposite is often the case: if nothing is forbidden, you won’t suffer from cravings. And by freeing yourself from strict rules, you can enjoy your food without feelings of guilt. How liberating!


Eating is just one part of the bigger picture.  Anyone who is on social media cannot fail to miss supposedly perfect influencers with disciplined nutritional plans and countless tricks for losing weight. Sometimes it helps, however, to step back from the constant speculation about the “right” diet. Be conscious of the fact that your eating behavior is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle. For all-round well-being, sufficient exercise, social interaction, enough sleep, low levels of stress and a positive attitude also play a crucial role. So don’t think about whether your dessert needs to be offset by more exercise or whether it was a good idea to add that extra portion of dressing to your salad. Your body does so much good every day – honor it!


Published November 1, 2023

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