Intuitive Eating Linked to Lower BMI…If You Can Do It
Are you an intuitive eater? Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of calories or other dieting methods. Also known as wisdom eating or conscious eating, intuitive eating relies on your ability to know your body and understand when you are hungry and full.
To be successful at intuitive eating, there are some principles that have to be followed to adapt to this way of life.
Eat when you’re hungry. Easier said than done for many of us who eat when we are sad, happy, bored, or in love. As we age, we also confuse hunger and thirst, often eating when we are, in fact, thirsty.
Stop when you’re full. Stopping when you are no longer hungry depends on two things: 1) what did you eat, and 2) did you eat slowly enough that your brain was able to receive the satiety message? Author Michael Moss and Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D. expert on nutrition and weight disorders, both write about combinations of foods that, when layered together, prevent you from reaching a point of satiety, causing you to eat much more than you should.
Don’t see food as “good” or “bad.” This one is tough. French fries are bad and broccoli is good. If you can accept that all foods fit into a healthy diet, then you are golden! As my epidemiology professor used to say, a Twinkie may not be good for those of us who have access to plenty of food, but if you were starving it would be just what you need.
Eat what you want, when you want. This requires a level of mindfulness about what your body really wants and needs. Maybe one day you want mashed potatoes and the next day you want a big salad. Here’s the problem: our prehistoric brain is wired to make sure we eat when food is available to prepare for the time when it is not available. You have to be very in tune with “gaps” in your food plan for the day, based on what you ate on previous days. This is not an easy task if you are accustomed to eating those foods that don’t trigger satiety or food that feeds emotions like sadness or stress. Eating highly processed foods when you are emotional makes you feel better for a bit, then intensifies your emotions and makes you feel worse.
The bottom line is that, to be successful as an intuitive eater, you have to begin eating without distraction and without using food as a means of comfort or punishment. Slow down, began to notice and trust what your body is telling you to do, and eat with as few distractions as possible.