What is intuitive eating?

Teaching our clients about intuitive eating is always at the top of our clinical to-do list at New Leaf. We explain what it is and why we all need to be doing it.

Understanding and knowing your body is a powerful tool. Too often these days we don’t listen to what our body wants, or what our body needs. Intuitive eating is not a new concept, but a concept that I find myself regularly talking to my clients about.

The principle of intuitive eating is to give your body what it needs and wants, rather than restricting your intake of certain foods. At New Leaf we are firm believers in not following diets and fads. We want your approach to health and nutrition to be easy and enjoyable.

Why ditch diet culture?

Diets restrict what you eat, when you eat it and how much you eat. They are rules-based and often insight fear when it comes to food. Even if you aren’t on a formal diet, do you have weird rules about what you eat? Why do you have these and are they really working for you?

Ultimately being on a diet means you are restricting certain foods. This restriction leads to craving the foods you can’t have and then you binge. It a vicious cycle and one that is never fully sustainable.

Eating intuitively is all about trusting yourself and enjoying your food. If you can do this then your relationship with food will begin to change.

Intuitive eating is simple. It is regular eating without any of the hang-ups. This means no exclusions (unless you have an allergy, ethical, religious or medical reason to do so). It centres around having no food rules. Not feeling anxious or guilty about choosing foods you genuinely enjoy. Having flexibility in what you eat and ultimately – eating what feels good for your body, most of the time.

Here are some key points:

TRUST

We should trust our bodies to tell us when we need to eat and what we need to eat. Craving eggs on toast for breakfast but planned last night that you were going to make chia pudding? Go with your gut feeling!

FOOD ≠ CALORIES

Don’t restrict your calorie intake because ultimately you are restricting your food intake. You don’t need to earn your food. Food is a requirement for life. We need it. So why can’t we enjoy it?

DITCH THE RULES

Who made the food rules, Why do we follow them? Having too many rules will ultimately result in a binge/restriction pattern which will continue to go on and on. We want food to be uncomplicated and not stressful.

How Do I Start Intuitive Eating?

The best way to start is to journal your meals and the way they make you feel. I know this sounds like a food diary but its not! It is open to you to be as expressive or as short as you like. At the end of the day instead of scrolling through Instagram take some time to reflect on what you have eaten that day and how it made you feel.

For example:

By doing this you can begin to see where you are worrying and see if those worries are actually justified. Did the meal make you feel good afterwards? Did you have a productive afternoon? Highlight this meal and make it again!

Reflecting on our patterns and behaviours is a powerful tool.

  • Did you feel too full after a meal? Perhaps you needed to slow down and be more present with your eating.
  • Were you not full enough? Perhaps you needed more food.
  • Were you starving before you choose a meal that didn’t have you feeling so great afterwards? Perhaps you need to start eating before you get that hungry.

It is all about documenting, realising patterns and adapting to what works for you.

This is how you can begin to see what you are enjoying and what is making you feel good! Try it out and let us know how you go. What meals made you feel great and what patterns did you start to notice?

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