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August 21, 2019 3 min read

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Are you tired of being bombarded with the same messages about dieting and weight loss? Perhaps you’ve tried no-carb, low-carb, calorie-counting and fasting diets, only to step on a scale and feel defeated once again. What if there was a plan that promoted weight loss, improved health and increased energy levels — all without dieting?

While traditional dieting may result in weight loss, many studies have shown that 95% of all people who go on diets will eventually gain the weight back. Additionally, carb counting, calorie reducing and various forms of fasting can have a detrimental effect on your physical and emotional well-being.

Intuitive eating was created as a response to fad diets. This non-diet philosophy of eating is simple: You are born with the ability to know when you are hungry and when you are full. By quieting the constant diet buzz around you, this back-to-the-basics concept of eating helps you to become more in tune with your body’s hunger cues and can help you to ditch that pesky scale all while achieving your weight-loss goals. 

It may seem counterintuitive to avoid focusing on weight to lose weight; however, the rise in stress hormones associated with traditional dieting may inhibit your body’s ability to actually shed the pounds. Rather than focusing on food and calorie intake, intuitive eating focuses on your relationship with food, swapping food guilt for self-care and trust.

Intuitive eating encompasses three guiding principles:

  1. Eat for physical needs and not for emotional needs. Many people use food as a coping mechanism for life stressors, including anxiety, sadness and loneliness. Eating to solve life’s problems often exacerbates the stress, which can then lead to more eating. Under the intuitive eating principle, food is fuel, not therapy; therefore if hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution. 
  2. Rely on internal hunger and satiety cues to help guide your eating habits. When dieting, the innate ability to regulate food intake is often lost, and you may be inclined to ignore your body’s hunger cues with. Intuitive eating uses a satiety scale that measures hunger from 1 (extreme hunger) to 10 (extreme fullness). Intuitive eaters are encouraged to stay closer to the middle numbers of the hunger scale as this promotes trust in your body and your ability to regulate intake.
  3. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. It may sound like intuitive eating grants permission for you to sit on the couch and binge on doughnuts until you pass out; however, this is not exactly the case. The goal of intuitive eating is to shift the focus from thinking about food in terms of “good” or “bad,” and to eat what you want, when you want it — knowing that restrictions can lead to binge behaviors. When you allow yourself freedom from restriction, that box of doughnuts will seem to have less control over you. Conversely, if your weight-loss approach isn’t flexible, it may be a struggle to stay on track, and can potentially leave you feeling burned out.

Seems too good to be true? Research has linked intuitive eating with lower body mass index, lower cholesterol levels and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Practiced regularly, intuitive eating can be liberating, and can promote sustainable weight loss while helping you to be your healthiest self.

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