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An Intuitive Eating Introduction — And How It Can Change Your Life

There has been a lot of buzz in the media lately about intuitive eating. More people are waking up to the fact that the “wellness culture” so many Instagram influencers try to sell us is, in fact, harmful; and more people are realizing that dieting is not a healthy way to live their lives.

But what actually is intuitive eating? And can you really be “healthy” without going on a diet?

Intuitive eating isn't a diet — it's a way to reclaim trust with your body and food.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating was created in the mid-90s by two registered dietitian nutritionists — Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch — when they realized that prescribing weight loss to their clients and patients was harmful to their mental and physical well-being.

Their books outline ten guiding principles that help people reconnect with their bodies, instead of restricting and policing them. The point of intuitive eating is not to tell you what, when and how to eat, which is what diets do; instead, the idea is to help you listen to your body’s natural cues and rhythms when it comes to food and movement.

As many anti- or non-diet dietitians and practitioners say, we’re all born as intuitive eaters. But as we grow up and become immersed in a world full of diet culture messaging that tells us to shrink our bodies and fear food, our intuition gets shut down.

Then, what is diet culture?

Diet culture is a multi-billion dollar industry just here in the United States alone. Work-out machines, diet books and programs, “detox” teas, magazines, reality TV shows — we’re constantly surrounded by images and messages that tell us our bodies are bad and not to be trusted.

Lately, this can show up as wellness culture. Green juices, expensive work-out clothes, supplements, “clean” eating, international yoga retreats — these things all feel incredibly unattainable for the average person, yet people on social media would have you believe that you need things like this in order to be the best and healthiest version of yourself.

These messages are unavoidable. So people go on diets or try a new “lifestyle” in an attempt to lose weight and change who they are. And rarely do they feel good about themselves or their bodies.

Intuitive eating is so revolutionary because it encourages you to forget about diet culture. Give yourself the power diet/wellness culture stole from you.

Intuitive eating asks you to listen to what your body wants, not what diet culture tells you to do.

Is intuitive eating too good to be true?

When people first hear about intuitive eating, they may think there’s no way it could “work.” But that’s the beauty of it!

Intuitive eating isn’t something you can fail at, like a diet. (Even though 95% of diets don’t result in long-term weight loss.) It’s just about listening to your body. It’s about eating what you want when you want it, even if you’re not hungry. And not beating yourself up about it.

This can scare people. They think that with unconditional permission to eat that they’ll gain weight immediately — which is an unkind way to think for multiple reasons. Firstly, gaining weight isn’t something that should be feared. (Fun fact: did you know that there isn’t any scientific support that being fat is unhealthy? Your weight doesn’t contribute to your health risks!) And secondly, that thinking plays into diet culture telling you that you’re bad and can’t be trusted around food.

But what if you learned that food wasn’t something to be feared? What if you allowed yourself to provide your body with what it wants, and trusted that it would take care of you? What if you knew that there’s an ideal set weight point for everyone? And that it’s different from person to person?

There’s so much freedom to be had in intuitive eating. And diet culture doesn’t know what’s coming for it.

If you want more of an introduction to the 10 principles of intuitive eating, sign up for my free 10-week email series.

Sami Main

Sami Main is a certified life coach and published author living in Brooklyn, NY with her boyfriend, two cats and two dogs. She is passionate about wellness, balance, nutrition and personal growth. Her book, How to Deal: Tarot for Everyday Life, is available through Harper Collins and Urban Outfitters. She's been performing improv comedy for the last decade, and you can frequently find her listening to podcasts on long walks.

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