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Applying the Principles of Intuitive Eating to Everyday Life

Intuitive eating is an approach to weight loss that aims to end the awful diet mentality. Its goal is to break you away from a life of dieting and encourage followers to make peace with food. This is accomplished by following the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Though the principles are clearly spelled out, it helps to look at how they can be applied to your daily life. Read on to learn more about these principles and how you can start applying them to make a meaningful change.

1. Reject Diet Mentality

What it Means: Let go of the idea that you need diets or that there is one perfect diet out there. Get angry at the diet culture overall.

How to Apply It: Start by telling yourself that the next big weight loss fad will not help you. There is no magic pill. You did not fail when you attempted to follow the restrictive diets of the past. On the contrary, those diets failed you. Restricting food and starving yourself is not the path to health.

2. Honor Your Hunger

What it Means: Understand the first biological signs of hunger in your body and respond appropriately.

How to Apply It: Keep in mind that your body needs to be fed. Eat something. Neglecting to fuel yourself now is a recipe for overeating later. Restricting what you eat is not the answer as it does not honor your bodies need for food.

3. Make Peace with Food

What It Means: Give yourself permission to eat and stop being in a battle with food.

How to Apply It: Stop making a naughty and nice list when it comes to food. All foods have their place. Stop asking “Can I have…?” Instead, consider what you should have. You can have whatever food you want any time you want. Keep in mind that some choices may impact your health poorly and others positively. Making peace with food means you won’t feel guilty about eating a slice of pie after a holiday dinner.

4. Challenge the Food Police

What it Means: There are no rules. You can eat whatever you want and you are not ‘in trouble’ or doing anything wrong by eating what you want.

How to Apply It: Stop monitoring the fake rules that diet culture has created. If the Food Police say eating a bowl of iceberg lettuce is OK but a steak has too many calories, remind the food police that a steak can nourish the body with fat and protein whereas a bowl of lettuce offers almost no nutrients.

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

What It Means: Pay attention to your body and enjoy your food and learn the place where you feel content and pleasantly satiated.

How to Apply It: Eating is a celebration. To apply this principle, make an effort to have a satisfying meal in an inviting environment. This will help you associate a feeling of fullness and satisfaction with the pleasure derived from a tasty meal.

6. Feel your Fullness

What It Means: Pay attention to the signals from your body that tell you that you no longer need to eat for fuel.

How to Apply It: Interpreting the signals of fullness and satisfaction are how this principle is applied. When eating, pay attention to when you are comfortably full, and let your body tell you when it is time to stop. Assess your hunger level while eating to ensure you are remaining in tune with that fullness signal.

7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness

What It Means: Find ways to comfort and soothe yourself and cope with your emotions in a warm and loving way.

How to Apply It: Restricting what you eat can sometimes lead to a feeling of losing control. That feeling can then lead to emotional eating. Whether anxiety or boredom trigger a desire to overeat, tell yourself that eating to excess will not solve these problems.

8. Respect your Body

What It Means: Respect your genetics, embrace your body, and love and appreciate every bit of it.

How to Apply It: This one may be tough for some to apply. Honoring your body means there is no room to be critical of it. Be thankful for all of the abilities it affords you from walking to breathing.

9. Movement

What It Means: Focus on how it feels to move your body and to use it – without emphasis on calorie burn.

How to Apply It: There is no need to join the gym and spend hours throwing weights around in order to achieve good health. Get up and move. Do whatever works best for you. Whether it is walking, yoga, or weight training, feel the movement of your body and focus on how great it makes you feel.

10. Honor your Health

What It Means: understand the value of good nutrition and let it impact food decisions without over-controlling it.

How to Apply It: Instead of eating cookies and pie at every meal, consider a food’s impact on your health. When applying this principle, remind yourself you have permission to eat whatever you want. However, take the time to consider how a food choice will affect your health.

Applying the above principle is something you can get started on right now. It does not require handing over money to a large corporation that benefits if you fail to lose weight. It does not require punishing yourself for choosing to have cake on a birthday. It does not require you to starve yourself. Reject that mentality and start nourishing and honoring both your hunger and your body.

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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