The Facts and Myths of Intuitive Eating: It’s Not a Diet
Dieting versus Intuitive Eating
Dieting may be a well-known approach to weight loss, but how many people are ultimately successful in reaching weight loss goals through dieting alone? Maybe it’s time to forget about “diets” and give Intuitive Eating a try.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It’s a different approach to nutrition and a change to the ways we think about food, health, and wellness. Intuitive Eating focuses on making peace with food, honoring your body’s ability to recognize hunger and fullness, and following your body’s cues.
Goals of Intuitive Eating
The goals of Intuitive Eating go well beyond weight loss or maintenance. Its goals are centered on overall health and wellness, including:
- Reduced anxiety.
- Improved body image.
- Putting an end to food guilt and obsessive thoughts about food.
- An improved relationship with food and a rediscovered satisfaction.
Addressing the myths of intuitive eating
Because Intuitive Eating is not a familiar diet or lifestyle brand, many might be skeptical of it. Fortunately, we're getting to the bottom of some of the myths out there.
We want you to know the facts about how beneficial Intuitive Eating can be for a healthier, more sensible approach to nourishing yourself. That’s why we’re sharing these five intuitive eating misconceptions and the truths behind them.
Myth #1: There is no structure to the Intuitive Eating method like other diets.
Truth: There are fewer restrictions than a traditional diet, but intuitive eating requires what experts call “flexible structure.” This flexibility provides more of a guide than restrictions. It requires a certain level of self-control to regulate your eating habits, as a traditional diet structure might.
Myth #2: Intuitive Eating is just another diet.
Truth: One of the first lessons of Intuitive Eating is getting rid of your “diet mentality.” Diets typically have strict rules and restrictions as to what you can and cannot eat. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, follows the natural feelings of your body, and has more of an abstract nature. This method is about looking at food in terms of satisfaction.
Myth #3: You can’t exercise anymore when following the Intuitive Eating approach.
Truth: One of the ten pillars of Intuitive Eating is about movement. This program encourages finding exercises and activities that you enjoy. Whether a 3-mile run, a walk in the park with a friend, or a game of pickle ball, if you’re doing something you enjoy, your body will respond. You’ll feel better mentally and physically.
Allowing yourself to feel your body’s response to those activities can help you recognize the benefits of movement and stop thinking of it as exercise to lose weight. In other words, we should exercise because it makes us feel good!
Myth #4: “Eating like a child” means junk food in Intuitive Eating.
A common adage in Intuitive Eating is to go back to your roots and eat as a child would. Unfortunately, this may be misinterpreted as meaning you should eat junk food, snacks, and such.
Truth: The phrase simply means that children ask for food when they’re hungry and stop eating when they’re full. As we become adults, we have control over whether we honor those feelings of hunger and fullness. Intuitive eating means going back to those fundamental roots of listening to your body and seeking what it needs, as a child would.
Myth #5: Intuitive Eating is easier than dieting.
Truth: Intuitive Eating requires you to create new habits and completely change your attitude about food, which can actually be more difficult than sticking to a set of rules. Diet plans require you to follow concrete instructions and stick to a plan that’s been laid out for you. That process is fairly simple to understand and execute with some willpower. Intuitive eating, on the other hand, can be challenging after being in the diet mindset, as it lacks set rules or a clear “prize.”
Despite the many myths surrounding Intuitive Eating, it’s a legitimate and sensible approach to nutrition and health. It creates satisfying and sensory eating experiences and helps achieve a sense of permission to eat the foods you want when you are hungry.
About the Author:
Lifespan Lifestyle Medicine Center
At the Lifespan Lifestyle Medicine Center we believe that caring for a patient is more than writing a prescription or ordering a test. We care for the whole person. Lifestyle medicine is the evidence-based practice of assisting individuals and families to adopt and sustain behaviors that can improve health and quality of life. Lifestyle Medicine focuses on six areas: physical activity, healthful eating, nutrition, stress management, sleep, and relationships.