What is intuitive eating, pros and cons

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Intuitive eating has its base in reconnecting with the signals that our body sends of hunger, satiety, appetite and satisfaction. But is a lo more than that. Intuitive eating teaches you other aspects that help changing the mindset towards dieting and body image. This lifestyle approach is the ultimate way to find food freedom, love yourself, be happy, healthy and maintain an ideal weight.

We are all born with the capacity of recognising these signals, but we lose it due to the education we are given, the way we live and way we behave within the society we are part of. Toddlers and children to a certain age use these signals in order to eat. Babies are totally capable of eating the right amounts of food to satisfy their energy and nutritional needs without surpassing them. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they are comfortably satisfied.

As we grow up, we stop listening to these signals. Parents force children to eat and finish their plates, whether they are hungry or not. When we get older, we start following schedules and eat because is lunch or dinner time, without thinking whether we are truly hungry or not. We eat because the person next to us offers some food or there is food around that we might fancy. We also associate certain activities with eating like going to the cinema or watching a movie at home. All these behaviours separate us more and more from listening to those signals that are our best ally to eat without excesses and keep a healthy natural weight.

The goal with intuitive eating is to learn how to reconnect with those signals and trust again our body’s natural abilities. Return to a healthy relationship with food, where we can enjoy eating without obsessions or restrictions, keeping an ideal weight in an easy and correct way, effortlessly and maintaining a good level of energy and vitality.

To reconnect with your body’s signals and eat intuitively, we must follow four fundamental steps. The four of them are equally important and must be utilised simultaneously to obtain the best results. If any of them is avoided, we will lose the connection required and the results won’t be optimum.

The steps:

  • Eat when you are hungry.

  • Stop when you feel satiated.

  • Eat what your body really asks for.

  • Eat consciously.

Each of these pillars has a specific function to help connecting with the signals our body sends. These signals are vital to a quality nutrition and healthy relationship with food, as well as maintaining an ideal weight. The signals related to each of the steps are hunger, satiety, appetite and satisfaction.

All those signals need to be fulfilled to get the full eating experience, physically and mentally. Both aspects need to be addressed to fully get what our body needs from eating. We must eat the amount of food required for the energy needed by listening to hunger and satiety. We need to listen to appetite to provide the nutrients and the type of food our body needs at each time. And last, we need to eat consciously and aware, and enjoy the food we eat, so our brain can register and process the part of the eating experience that takes place in the brain.

Intuitive eating also works on self love and acceptance. it is very important to focus on health and the way you feel rather than a specific size or a number on the scale. Mindset is a vital part to intuitive eating. Food rules need to be replaced for new beliefs. Nutrition and eating psychology need to be worked hand by hand. Respecting and appreciating your body is a very important part of intuitive eating. Once you appreciate it for what it is, you can start doing things with care and love for it to be healthier and better, rather than forcing it through restriction or exercise to lose weight. Exercise is treated in the same way as the nutritional part, it is a way to move your body, keeping active and healthier, not a way of punishment or burning more calories. To exercise you listen to your body and respect when is tired.

HOW DOES INTUITIVE EATING DIFFER FROM OTHER DIETS?

Intuitive eating is not a diet. It as a way to tune into your body and provide what it needs from within, trusting its wisdom. Dieting is very harmful for the body as well as the mind. It causes a number of side effects that can lead to serious issues.

  • It is against our biology and physical needs.

  • Unbalances the hormones that control hunger and satiety.

  • Slows down metabolism

  • Produces rebound weight gain.

  • Causes the increase of hunger, provoking hunger explosions and binge eating.

  • Leads to feelings of low self-esteem, low confidence and guilt.

  • Damages relationship with food, provoking food obsession.

Read the article on the 7 reasons why diets don’t work here.

Diets don’t provide what the body needs. They are based on external decisions, food rules, meal plans, timings and so on They force the body to go against its nature and its biological need to provide enough energy. Nobody can tell what your body needs except from your own body.

WHAT ARE THE PROS?

The most important benefit of intuitive eating is finding food freedom and regain a healthy relationship with food, all while maintaining optimum health and an ideal weight. Other pros are:

  • Improved energy.

  • Better health.

  • Learning how to do what is best for you instead of forcing your body.

  • Less stress and food obsession.

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence.

  • No more feelings of guilt with food.

  • Being able to enjoy meals again.

  • Stopping the restricting and bingeing cycles.

  • Life time results.

WHAT ARE THE CONS?

It can be difficult to implement at the beginning, it takes some time to understand and listing to your body. It is also a slow process, intuitive eating is not a quick fix. It can take a bit longer to see results, but the results are maintained.  Other cons are:

  • Could cause some weight gain in the first face, depending on how the metabolism and the hormonal unbalance caused from dieting is when starting.

  • Mindset is difficult to shift without the right support.

  • Food choices can be confusing when starting, specially when coming from a diet mentality.

  • A balance needs to be met to provide the right nutrition in order to feel all the benefits.

  • It requires some experimenting to find your balance.

If you are tired of dieting without results, of weight fluctuations, of binging and restricting, of feeling guilty when eating certain foods, and more… Intuitive eating is definitely for you. There is a natural way to achieve results and feel amazing. You can finally find food freedom and enjoy food like never before while knowing you are doing the best for you and your body.

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