Body image and body positivity can be a challenge, especially with pervasive social comparisons and a loud diet culture. One prominent strategy to support your well-being in this domain is intuitive eating.
It is important to recognize that we are born intuitive eaters. When we’re young, we trust our body’s cues to tell us when we are hungry and need food. We also are aware when we are full and satisfied, and to stop (unlike your neighbor’s dog). Over time, many lose touch with this natural intuitive eating skill due to pressures in our society (i.e. meal sizes at restaurants, advertisements).
Developed by two dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, intuitive eating combines principles of mindfulness while adding in our instincts, emotions, and rational thoughts about food to help us move towards acceptance and peace with eating, rather than fear and judgment.
Use these 9 concepts of intuitive eating to promote body positivity and overall well-being:
- Detest the diet mentality – Call out and name messages around diet culture. Naming unhelpful and controlling thoughts such as “I shouldn’t eat after 8 p.m.” can allow us to objectively view and act.
- Honor Hunger – Our bodies need fuel. To honor this need, check in with your body every couple of hours and identify your energy levels. If you need something, have a snack or meal. If not, check-back in later. Little known fact: studying or working while hungry actually decreases productivity and retention.
- Make peace with food – Oftentimes we fight cravings (ice cream, chips, etc.). When you have these cravings, engage in mindful eating and consumption of these items. Mindful eating rather than restricting helps us enjoy food in appropriate quantities, rather than eating a whole gallon of Ben & Jerry’s. When we do this, we gradually restore our body’s trust that we will listen to what it asks for and that there are no restrictions.
- Protest the Food Police – We all have unhelpful voices in our heads – especially with food. This food is “good” and that one is “bad.” Instead notice these thoughts and reframe the food police voices with a positive alternative statement and remember that everything is “good” with moderation as the key.
- What satisfies? – Feeling truly satisfied from your food is one of the most important aspects of intuitive eating. Consider the types of food that truly satisfy you at this moment. Ask what makes it so, and incorporate that into your day or week.
- Take time and gauge fullness – Mindfully eat and ask how hungry or full you are at each stage of the meal. Notice if there are patterns and feel into your body, and not your mind, to know what works for you.
- Pro tip: try not to multitask when eating, as you’re not tuned into your body and can easily over or undereat when doing so.)
- Strategize Solutions – Our emotions impact our eating patterns. Try making a list of all the emotions that may drive you to eat. In these moments, work to have a healthy snack or alternative available.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Respect your body. We never expect to change our shoe size or our height, yet we continuously put pressure on ourselves to change the shape of our bodies. Learning to accept our genetics and the natural shape of your body helps to promote a positive body image.
- Connect to other domains of well-being — Consider movement. Movement can help us to feel strong, energized, and comfortable in our bodies.
Maintaining a mindful and in-tune relationship with food is essential to well-being. Revisit these tips whenever you’re feeling like you need a little recalibration.
*If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental health, we can help. Contact us at Diversus Health to request an appointment with our mental health providers. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.