We are constantly bombarded with messages about what we should be eating, this meal plan, diets or the latest “superfood” so much so that most of us miss what our body actually wants and needs.
As a Nutritionist I am very passionate about encouraging a positive relationship with food and reconnecting to our natural wants and intuition, through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Nutrition.
Intuitive and Mindful are words that tend to get thrown around quite a lot, but there is actually a lot of literature and weight behind the practices. Intuitive Eating is the process of learning how to reconnect to your natural wants and needs, letting go of preconceived notions and ideas around food. It is a specific intervention with ten guiding principles and practices, some of which I am going to discuss below.
Ditching the diet mentality
Dieting and diet culture are something we consistently exposed to, through the media, messaging from products and the pressures we place on ourselves. Recognising that dieting and specific diet plans actually don’t work in the long term, with the reverse affect of actually damaging your relationship with food and health, is really significant. It has even been indicated that “yo – yo” dieting can have such a considerable impact on your metabolism that individuals who have consistently yo-yo dieted will need to eat 20% less calories than individuals who haven’t to experience the same weight loss. Some small steps to start removing diet culture’s influence is to unfollow any channels that make you feel bad about yourself, embrace positive messages and become more educated about diet culture.
Learning to reconnect with your hunger and fullness
Often we can disconnect with these nuanced feelings of hunger and fullness. We ignore when we are actually hungry, instead we eat at scheduled meal times, the portions we are served or trying to ignore our hunger. The other end of the spectrum is fullness, we can eat until we are stuffed, not giving ourselves time to rest and digest instead overriding the subtle signs our body gives us. It may sound like a simple process to tune in to our hunger and fullness but it is a practice and requires us to let go of our predetermined ideas around food. Learning to reconnect with our natural hunger and satiety is actually learning to trust ourselves and our bodies.
Making peace with food
There are so many negative preconceptions we have around food, like needing to earn it through exercise or labelling foods as “good” or “bad”. These judgments and restrictions we place on ourselves more often than not end in self sabotage. Studies show that when we anticipate food restriction we rebel and eat more of it. Neutralising your opinions on food, letting go of guilt and allowing yourself to feel comfortable with all foods is a huge step in establishing a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
Mindful & Gentle Nutrition
This is an area that is particularly important to me, as a Nutritionist I aim to encourage people to nourish themselves with food that makes them feel good in their body and mind. When you have a healthy relationship with food a healthy diet isn’t about eating the most nutritious diet possible, it’s about having balance and coming from a place of education and choice with what you want to eat. You can enjoy eating nutritious food and nourishing your body but also not feel guilt about eating out or enjoying some typically “unhealthy foods”.
There is much more to Intuitive Eating than this short look, it isn’t something you can get a perfect score at or a free for all. It is a specific educational process and one that can make a great difference to our mental and physical health.
Written by London-based Nutritionist Antonia Magor.
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