What are the ben­e­fits of intu­itive eat­ing and how to stay fit with­out exhaust­ing diets?

Intu­itive eat­ing is a style of eat­ing that pro­motes a healthy rela­tion­ship with food and body image. The idea is that you should eat when you’re hun­gry and stop when you’re full. Although this is an intu­itive process, doing this is a chal­lenge for many. To eat intu­itive­ly, you may have to relearn how to trust your body. To do this, you need to dis­tin­guish between phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al hunger:

Phys­i­cal hunger. This bio­log­i­cal urge tells you to replen­ish your nutri­ents. It builds up grad­u­al­ly and has dif­fer­ent sig­nals, such as rum­bling in the stom­ach, fatigue or irri­tabil­i­ty. Phys­i­cal hunger is sat­is­fied by eat­ing any food.

Emo­tion­al hunger. It is caused by an emo­tion­al need. Sad­ness, lone­li­ness and bore­dom are some of the feel­ings that can trig­ger food crav­ings. Often, when you are emo­tion­al­ly hun­gry, you crave cer­tain foods.

Below are nine key prin­ci­ples of intu­itive eat­ing.

1. Stop dieting

A diet men­tal­i­ty is the idea that there is a diet that will suit you best. Intu­itive eat­ing is an anti-diet.

2. Respect your hunger

Hunger is not your ene­my. Respond to the first signs of hunger by feed­ing your body. If you allow your­self to become over­ly hun­gry, you are more like­ly to overeat.

3. Make peace with food

Call a truce on the food war. Get rid of harm­ful ideas about what you should or should­n’t eat.

(Read also: Why do we eat stress and how to stop doing it)

4. Challenge the food police

Food itself is not good or bad, and you are not good or bad because of what you eat or don’t eat. Chal­lenge thoughts that tell you oth­er­wise.

5. Respect your feeling of fullness

Just like your body tells you when it’s hun­gry, it also tells you when it’s full. Lis­ten to sig­nals of com­fort­able sati­ety when you feel like you’ve had enough. As you eat, check in with your­self to see how the food tastes and how hun­gry or full you are.

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Make the eat­ing expe­ri­ence enjoy­able. Eat what you like. Sit down to eat it. When you make eat­ing enjoy­able, you may find that you need less food to be sat­is­fied than you expect­ed.

(Read also: What is com­pul­sive overeat­ing and how to deal with it)

7. Honor your feelings without resorting to food.

Emo­tion­al eat­ing is a strat­e­gy for deal­ing with feel­ings. Find ways to cope with your emo­tions that don’t involve food, such as going for a walk, a hob­by, or call­ing a friend. Notice when the feel­ing you might call hunger is actu­al­ly based on emo­tion.

8. Exercise for joy

Find types of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty that you enjoy. And it doesn’t mat­ter if it’s run­ning, walk­ing, swim­ming, danc­ing or climb­ing, for exam­ple. Shift your focus from los­ing weight to feel­ing ener­gized, strong, and alive.

9. Honor your health

The food you eat should taste good and make you feel good. Remem­ber that your over­all diet deter­mines your health. One meal or snack won’t make it bet­ter or ruin it.

(Read also: Healthy plate: a guide to the sim­plest method of bal­anced nutri­tion)

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