Intuitive Eating: Is It Right for You?
By Kate Gardner
Do you have a difficult relationship with food? Maybe you eat too much, blasting through whatever message your body sends you about being full. Or maybe you're at the other end of the spectrum, so afraid to eat the wrong thing you have a hard time eating much at all. If either of these sounds like you, intuitive eating may be helpful.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
It's difficult to define intuitive eating in one sentence. Intuitive eating means to respect your body and listen to what it tells you. But this doesn't quite explain the scope of intuitive eating, so let's try again. Intuitive eating means to:
- Eat foods you like when you're hungry
- Enjoy eating
- Stop worrying that there are foods you shouldn't eat
- Recognize when you're full
- Find new ways to handle the emotions that drive you to eat
- Accept your body and stop trying so hard to change it
While these ideas behind intuitive eating aren't new, they've been put into a structured framework by dietitian Evelyn Tribole and nutrition therapist Elyse Resch. Since 1995 Tribole and Resch have written three books together on the topic. Their website, IntuitiveEating.org, offers a number of intuitive eating resources and hosts an online community. You can also search their database to find a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor near you.
Does It Work?
First, you have to figure out what is meant by "work." Intuitive eating is not meant to be a weight loss program. Rather, its goal is to end disordered eating, a broad term that can be applied to a number of behaviors associated with having a poor relationship with food and weight.
While not many studies have been done on intuitive eating, there are a few that confirm people who eat more intuitively tend to have lower body weight. Other studies have found benefits that don't revolve around weight loss.
- Better relationships - In studies, people who successfully use intuitive eating rated themselves as having a better relationship with food
- Better mood - People who learned to eat intuitively reported lower levels of depression and anxiety than they had previously
If it's hard to kick the idea that your primary goal is to lose weight, intuitive eating may not be your best bet. If you're tired of worrying about your weight and are looking for a better relationship with food, this may be the key.
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