Intuitive and Mindful Eating: Improve Your Relationship with Food

by Anti-Diet, Body Positivity, Gentle Nutrition, Intuitive Eating, Mindful Eating0 comments

Have you ever felt lost and confused when trying to make healthy food choices? Frustrated or defeated? Do you wish you could just enjoy food without worrying whether it is good or bad?

It’s time to end the fight against food and instead achieve a positive relationship free of constraints and rules. There are a few approaches that help you get there; intuitive and mindful eating are both strategies that are aimed at cultivating a positive and pleasurable relationship with food. These approaches offer freedom from the endless cycle of dieting by rejecting the diet mentality. By integrating the connection between mind, body and food, each individual is able to become the expert of their own body.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is a philosophy that by becoming more attuned to our hunger cues, we can achieve a healthy weight. Thus, this approach rejects tracking foods and calorie counting and instead focuses on listening to our innate hunger, fullness and satiety cues.
In today’s society food is often viewed as a means to achieve an ideal body. This creates an internal conflict between societal expectations and the physical, social and emotional aspects of food. Intuitive eating allows us to tune into our motivations for eating; honouring our internal cues such as hunger, fullness and satiety.

“Enjoy eating food. Not too much not too little. Mostly what satisfies you” – Intuitive Eating (E. Tribole)

Respecting your body, regardless of how you feel about its shape, supports the pursuit of authentic health, as defined by you.

There are 10 principles of intuitive eating explained in detail on the intuitive eating website that can be summarized into 3 core characteristics:

1) Reject the diet mentality: Say a big “NO” to the rigid rules of fad diets. Honour your health!
2) Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full: Honouring your hunger will prevent you from reaching extreme hunger and subsequently overeating. Listening to your fullness cues can prevent overeating. Trust your body!
3) Eat to feel good: Eat the foods that make your body feel healthy and happy. Listen to your body!
intuitive and mindful eating
Diet culture has taught us to override our body’s innate hunger and satiety cues. Reflect on your own experiences with food, can you think of a time when you ate based on your body’s needs? A time free of rules and judgement? If this is challenging for you to recall, fear not, as this approach can be practiced and developed to help you become more in tune with your body .
intuitive and mindful eating

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a strategy within Intuitive Eating. Eating mindfully emphasizes paying attention to the experience of eating without any judgement. “Without judgement” is a key component of mindful eating as it allows us to make our food choices freely without any guilt.
Removing the Judgement Towards Food
In a society where foods are constantly being labelled as good or bad, eliminating judgement frees us up to enjoy the food experience. Removing judgement also allows us to tune in to our senses such as how is the food tasting.  Mindful eating is an approach that allows us to really tune into eating food and noticing the experience. We then become more aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide food decisions.

Translating Theory to Action

Here is an example of mindfully eating an apple. First, start by asking some guiding questions about the food. Does the apple have a smell? How does the skin of the apple feel in your hand? Is it soft or firm? As you begin to bite into the apple, notice the crunch through the apple, the burst of flavour and aroma. Is the apple sweet? Or slightly tart? How is the texture?

This approach allows us to be fully present while we eat and really savour the experience. Notice that during this exercise you’re not being asked to think, only notice the senses you are experiencing. This is what it means to eat mindfully.

How Intuitive and Mindful Eating Can Help You

So how can you use the principles of mindful eating to increase your awareness? Next time you sit down for a meal notice the smell, appearance, and taste of your food. Notice how you feel while eating and when you start to feel satisfied. Try to recognize the various thoughts and feelings you experience towards the food without any judgment.

Do you want to improve your relationship with food? If so, a more intuitive and mindful approach could improve your journey towards a positive relationship with food.   If you are interested in learning more and discussing how this approach might help you, let’s schedule a no-strings-attached 30-minute call with me to get going on this.

Guest Post in Collaboration with Nikki Lenzen & Ali Quinlan

Nikki - intuitive and mindful eating
Nikki’s interest in cooking was sparked at a young age. As she became more involved in sport, her passion for food evolved into an interest in nutrition. Now, as a third year dietetics student at UBC she enjoys translating nutrition research to food focused solutions in the kitchen.
Ali - intuitive and mindful eating
Ali is a third year dietetics student at UBC who love to learn as much as possible about food and the wonderful roles it can play in our lives. She is a passionate cookie-baker and outdoor enthusiast. When not experimenting in the kitchen, you can find her out exploring various hiking trails with her husky, Rogue.