What is intuitive eating and how is it different from other diets?

No more fad diets and negative food labels.

19 April, 2024
What is intuitive eating and how is it different from other diets?

When was the last time you indulged in a slice of cake without guilt? Can’t remember, right? I couldn’t either! We consume a variety of food daily but hardly do we pay attention to how that food makes us feel. It seems like we are always striving for the ‘perfect’ body type or obsessing over calorie count. It is easy to get overwhelmed because of social media’s relentless stream of information. Tired of constant bombardment of diet fads on social media, intuitive eating seemed like an interesting concept to me. So, I decided to give it a try. My goal was to track my eating habits for a week and see what all the fuss was about. How does intuitive eating differ from traditional dieting approaches? Integrative lifestyle expert, Luke Coutinho says, “Traditional diets prescribe rigid calorie limits and miss out on the fact that the human body is dynamic and so are its needs. In contrast, intuitive eating promotes a personalised approach, emphasising on responsiveness to the body’s cues and needs.”

Plan of action

Having committed to this approach, I had to follow my intuition and grab that bowl of Mac and Cheese that I wanted. But hold on, my friend, intuitive eating is not just about what you eat, but how you eat. Slow down, savour every bite with a sense of gratitude. Avoid distractions such as watching TV or using your phone while eating. Say no to mindless snacking and stop rushing through meals. Take the time to appreciate the flavours, textures, and the pure joy that food brings. “To embark on intuitive eating, the initial step involves tuning out social media noise and celebrity opinions,” shares Luke. I will admit that it was slightly tricky, but eating my food without a screen in front of me helped me not just appreciate the flavours and textures but also the pure joy that food brings. The next step involves developing awareness, understanding your body type and its unique needs to tap into the innate wisdom your body has. Eat what your body needs and feel free from any guilt and shame. This means giving up the habit of labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and letting your body decide which food feels nourishing and which does not. Also, be mindful of your appetite...if you’re not hungry, don’t eat, and if you are, eat suitably.

Have compassion

It is important to trust and respect your body, not just the physical aspects but also by acknowledging emotional cues. If your emotions are causing you to overeat or undereat, learn to cope with them patiently. Luke mentions, “Unlike strict diets that may completely exclude certain foods, intuitive eating allows for indulgence while maintaining overall balance, reducing the risk of frustration, psychological deprivation, and potential eating disorders.” Being gentle with yourself is a more productive and sustainable way of moving forward. Intuitive eating is a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance where we prioritise our well-being and establish a healthier relationship with food and our body. It is like hitting the reset button and reconnecting to our traditional notions of nourishment, free from external influences. Remember, it is all about finding balance, peace, and joy. 

Day 1 

I started having intense cravings, which I fulfilled eventually. The peak faded as the day went by. As someone trying to be mindful of eating healthy, it was hard to let go of the guilt and be comfortable with eating whatever I felt like.

Day 2

While my appetite was low, I increased my food intake for lunch solely due to a desire for high-carb and protein-filled food. Following the struggle of avoiding distractions while eating, I ensured to have a simple and nutritious meal for dinner.

Day 3 

The day started on a wholesome note—my cravings remained neutral throughout, except when I had a sweet tooth moment post-dinner. A low caffeine intake was a surprising observation for the day.

Day 4 & 5 

Despite heading out quite often, I was able to stick to my process by eating only what was required and stopping when I was full. Specific urges for food were reduced along with the portion sizes for every meal.

Day 6 & 7 

The last two days remained neutral with minor fluctuations. I was experiencing substantially low cravings, eating smaller portions, and feeling full faster...reduced caffeine intake was a bonus. I was amazed how making minor and easy changes to my eating habits for just six days left me feeling more energetic, nutritionally full, and emotionally happy.

Feature image credit: Pexels 

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