Food as Medicine: How to Practice Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is a term that we see splashed across headlines more and more, but what does it really mean?
By | September 26, 2019
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Bastyr University adheres to a whole-food philosophy that guides all of its nutrition programs, emphasizing the consumption of a variety of foods in their least-processed forms. When assessing health and wellness, the university integrates mind, body, and spirit by drawing connections between whole food, exercise science and health psychology.

Katelyn White, BS, CPT, MSNW Student at Bastyr University California talks about five ways to start practicing intuitive eating.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The principle behind intuitive eating is to focus on creating a healthy, positive relationship with food and getting out of the ‘diet mentality’. In this way, you can become the expert on your body, and optimize when you eat and what you eat. 

Just like everything else, practice makes perfect, and there are a few simple ways to start integrating intuitive eating into your life.

Embrace All Foods

One of the main philosophies of intuitive eating is the anti-diet. This means that instead of following fad diets, incorporate balance into your life by eating what you feel your body needs when your body needs it. 

Eat balanced meals that include a variety of fruits and vegetables. And if you feel like your body needs a cookie, don’t hesitate to eat that either. 

Over time this shift in mentality can help us to learn to indulge our desires in moderation without feeling guilty for enjoying them.

Eat if You Are Hungry

Part of the intuitive eating practice is learning how to connect your mind to your body so that you know what your body is telling you. Listening to your body includes listening to the signals that your body uses to tell you that you’re hungry or full. 

Photo by Aldyth Moyla on Unsplash

Many people find that fad diets keep them on a regimented schedule of eating too little and being endlessly hungry. Alternatively, intuitive eating aims to satiate hunger through nutritionally dense, balanced meals. 

If you serve yourself more than you can comfortably finish, save it for later when you get hungry again. You will find that because you can eat as much or as little as you want, the pressure to over consume at mealtime is alleviated.

Honor Mealtime

Eating should be an enjoyable experience. Explore different flavors and spices as you cook your own meals, and sit down to enjoy them and connect with the foods that you are eating.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 Sitting down at the table, rather than in front of the television, can help you feel more satisfied as eating without distraction will allow you to really savor the flavors and listen to your hunger signals so you’ll recognize when you feel satiated before feeling overly full.

Respect Your Feelings & Ditch the Judgement

Many of us often find ourselves emotionally eating because of stress, anger, or anxiety. Finding a healthy, non-food related way to work through these emotions, like getting physical with a kickboxing class, taking time to meditate, or finding peace through a creative activity such as painting, can help decrease emotional eating. 

Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash

Before you begin to cook or grocery shop, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Ask yourself without judgement: ‘What do I want to eat?’. Quiet your mind and tune into what your body is feeling instead of the emotions that you are feeling. 

Listening to your body and identifying emotional food triggers will help you make better decisions when shopping for or cooking food. 

Being mindful of your feelings and cravings can also help you move away from any feelings of guilt when you do choose to indulge.

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