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.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Why Intuitive Eating Works
“Enjoy eating food. Not too much not too little. Mostly what satisfies you” – Intuitive Eating (E. Tribole)
There are 10 principles of intuitive eating explained in detail on the intuitive eating website that can be summarized into 3 core characteristics:
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.
What is Mindful 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.
In a society where foods are constantly being labelled as good or bad, eliminating judgement frees us up to enjoy the food experience. This means choosing food you actually enjoy eating without any guilt or shame. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t eat it!
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.
Use your senses to find the satisfaction factor
Mindful eating is a tool that can help you savour and find satisfaction in your food but it’s important to choose and eat foods that you truely enjoy and get pleasure from without judgment.
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 15-minute call with me to get going on this.
This blog was written with the help of UBC dietetic students, Nikki Lenzen and Ali Quinlan.