Optimal nutrition is best achieved by maintaining a healthy relationship with food and trusting the body to guide the eating process. Intuitive eating is the innate ability to feed oneself based on internal feeding cues such as hunger and satiety. It involves choosing foods without feelings of guilt or worry and without judging the food being eaten or oneself for eating. Restoring your ability to eat intuitively allows you to return to your natural, internal cues, instead of relying on outside influences. Intuitive eating has been referred to as “making peace with food” by trusting the body’s internal wisdom.
While listening to the body’s feeding cues may sound simplistic, eating disorders and other influences can greatly interfere with the body’s ability to provide appropriate hunger, satiety and feeding cues. Eating disorders and emotional eating can “trick” the individual into feeling full when the body is hungry or even starving. In addition, eating disorders can trick the individual into feeling hungry or initiating an urge to eat when the body is satisfied or full. Additionally, outside influences can greatly impact ones eating choices with or without an eating disorder. Examples of outside influences are: diets and diet books, media, social pressure, guilt, comparing food intake with others, the eating environment and inappropriate self-induced caloric restriction. These outside influences, especially when coupled with disordered eating, can lead to the inability to listen to and interpret the body’s eating cues accurately. In these cases intuitive eating needs to be re-learned with the proper guidance and support from an experienced nutrition professional. Finding your natural balance using a non-diet, intuitive approach will lead to long-term success in reaching your personal healthy weight and nutrition goals.
Mindful eating is eating with the intention of caring for yourself and eating with the attention necessary for noticing and enjoying the food and its effects on your body. It involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside of the body. We observe and notice the look, smell, feel, flavor, temperature, and sound of the food. We focus on where we feel hungry and where we feel satisfaction.
While avoiding judgment or criticism, we watch when the mind gets distracted. We pay attention to the desire or action to want to grab a book, turn on the tv, check our emails, etc. We simply notice and return to the experience of eating. Mindful eating allows us to be fully present with the meal and the body, and is integral to finding ones’ natural balance with food.