Will Intuitive Eating Become The New Paleo?

“I stop eating when I feel satisfied.”
“I trust my body to tell me how much I should eat.”

If you answer these two statements with “strongly agree”, you’re on your best way towards your ideal weight because you rely on your intuitive eating behavior. The Intuitive Eating Scale (IES) published by the Ohio State University in 2006 indicates how to go with one’s gut when it comes to food and eating.

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However, most of us would choose “don’t agree” for the two statements because it’s everything but easy to follow your gut feeling. Especially the actual, physical sensation – am I hungry? Am I full? Eat to live, not the other way round, right? If we took the signals our bodies send us more seriously than advice and recommendations from external sources, unhealthy overweight wouldn’t be nearly as common as it is today. By learning to follow our instincts, to eat intuitively and to enjoy what we eat, we will unconsciously lose weight.

It’s a shame that we sabotage our instincts to rely on our natural eating behavior by doing the following things:

  • You label food “good” and “bad”.
  • You eat when you’re afraid, sad or depressed.
  • You ban food you like from your life because it’s “bad”.
  • You follow strict eating rules or diets like Paleo, Low Carb, etc.
  • You feel guilty and angry when you’ve indulged.

This type of behavior is frustrating & we don’t feel comfortable with ourselves or our eating behavior. When losing just a few pounds is our goal we start looking for advice and solutions from others. We spend hours on the internet, devour weight loss-related blogposts, buy books or visit nutrition experts – always hoping that others will help and know what’s good for us. That’s where the vicious weight loss cycle starts:

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Shouldn’t we be the experts when it comes to our lives, our wellbeing, our bodies? Are we looking for advice from others to make them the scapegoat in case we fail?

So, what do we do?
If we believe Confucius, advice from those who don’t walk down the same road as you do is useless. Taking into consideration that everyone’s individual life journey is as unique as their fingerprints, their advice might be of little to no value to you.

A diet promising a loss of 5 lbs less in 3 weeks; that book full of weight loss instructions for thousands of readers; a magic recipe that leads Hollywood stars to their dream body… all these things might be a source of inspiration, yet they’ll never represent THE solution for your personal situation.

Galileo Galilei once said: We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” Discovering and sensing when your body needs energy in the form of food, or how hunger and satisfaction feel, are among the basic principles of intuitive eating. Dr. Tylka from the Ohio State University established three criteria for intuitive eating…

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Intuitive eating means:

  • I am allowed to eat whenever I’m hungry and whatever I want to.
  • I eat for physical reasons (hunger), not for emotional reasons.
  • I rely on my body’s signals of hunger and satisfaction; they determine when and how much I eat.

You are your best advisor
Reading the first principle, many of us might think “What?! If I ate what I want, I’d have to buy new jeans every week.” Yet, quite the opposite is true. If we stop dividing food into good and bad, the “bad”, prohibited foods start losing their charm. Just think back to your childhood: The most exciting things were those we weren’t allowed to do (or eat). The following quote is from the book Intuitive Eating. A Revolutionary Program That Works: “I feel like I’m out of prison. I’m free and not thinking about food all the time anymore.”

Start listening to your body more closely and follow your intuition, give up habits and give Dr. Tylka’s three criteria a try – you’ll see, you’ll automatically turn to a more balanced diet. Plus, you’ll notice the difference in your stomach after having fatty fast food vs. light, home-made dishes.

In my opinion, the concept of intuitive eating sounds like a successful recipe for weight loss and it’s definitely more than a fad diet like Paleo, Low Carb, etc. as it has potential for guiding you towards a balanced diet in the long run.

“Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero

And you? Are you still dieting or already eating intuitively? 😉 Share your experience in the comments below!

Bye for now,
Vera

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Vera Schwaiger Vera studied dietetics & psychotherapy. She lives her life according to what Einstein once said: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." View all posts by Vera Schwaiger »

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