Today, 2/4/2019, Dr. Oz covers intuitive eating, a non-diet that gives you unconditional permission to eat what you enjoy while lending physical and psychological benefits. Sound counterintuitive? Read on to get the rundown on the eating practice and how it brings about positive health effects.
- In the early ‘90s, fatty foods came to be seen as the enemy in the battle against diet-related heart disease.
- Meanwhile, high-carb diets were viewed as the savior, both in cutting the risk of disease and shedding extra pounds.
- A decade later, fat-free foods were out, and a fat-loaded, low-carb diet became the key to weight loss and improved health. This tendency to swap worry-free eating patterns for restrictive diets continues today, and more than one-third of U.S. adults followed a specific diet within the last year, either to lose weight, boost cardiovascular health or feel more energized, according to the 2018 Food and Health Survey.
- But strict diets, whether it be paleo, low-carb, or ketogenic, aren’t sustainable, and in 2007, UCLA researchers analyzed 31 long-term studies and found that the majority of people dieting regain the weight they lost, plus more, within four to five years.
Developed in 1995 by two dietitians, intuitive eating is a mind-body, non-diet approach to eating that’s based on one key concept: trust yourself to choose foods that feel good in your body, without judgement or guilt, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, but only as long as you stay in-tune with your body. Rather than following a strict meal plan or trying to hit a certain number of macros each day, intuitive eating entails being aware of and responding to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, a skill that’s natural to children.
Intuitive eating encourages people to shift their focus back to their own bodies and once again become “unaffected eaters.” “Diets are short term, they’re deprivation,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick. “Intuitive eating is something you want to form to last a lifetime.”
The philosophy is based on principles that focus on self-awareness and eliminating the emotional value placed on food.
- Alongside fueling your body with food when it tells you to and stopping when you’re comfortably full, intuitive eating involves choosing foods that create a truly satisfying eating experience.
- The theory is that the pleasure you feel from eating food you actually enjoy will help keep you satisfied, and you’ll notice it takes less food to feel content; choosing to eat one oh-so-sweet, expertly frosted bakery cupcake will feel more fulfilling than wolfing down a sleeve of cookies.
- If you often dive spoon-first into a pint of ice cream after a trying day, taking up intuitive eating will remind you to avoid relying on food to deal with your emotions. Under this philosophy, grabbing a snack when you’re anxious, flustered, or lonely will distract you from your feelings, but this emotional eating is seen as a gateway to possible overindulgence.
- The practice also dispels the ideas that certain foods are “bad” or “forbidden” and that you’re “good” for limiting your calorie consumption for the day, as it can lead to binging and a sense of shame.
- And since food is ever linked to body image and self-worth, the principles advocate respecting your body, no matter the shape or size, and exercising to make yourself feel good, not just to burn calories.
- By focusing on the foods that are personally satisfying, eating without shame or self-judgment, and listening to inner hunger cues, intuitive eating can have both mental and physical health advantages, and everyone should try to tap into it in some form.
- Researchers have noted a positive link between intuitive eating, self-compassion, and body image acceptance, and an analysis of 26 studies on the eating pattern found that it can possibly improve psychological health, dietary intake, blood pressure, and cholesterol and is connected to lower BMI.
- The weight loss associated with intuitive eating could be linked to the mindfulness component of the practice, Kirkpatrick says. There are two digestive hormones that dictate our eating habits: ghrelin, which tells us we’re low on fuel, and leptin, which tells us to stop eating. “When we eat too fast, we miss the signal and eat more than we need,” Kirkpatrick says. By being aware of how you’re consuming food and staying alert to your body’s internal cues, you’ll prevent yourself from overindulging.
Photo courtesy of Bing via revivedkitchen.com