Five Myths of Intuitive Eating

Lifespan Blog Team

The intuitive eating approach to nutrition is about making peace with food and honoring your body’s ability to recognize hunger and fullness. The goals are to reduce anxiety, body image concerns, obsessive thoughts and food guilt, and to promote body positivity, discover satisfaction, and take back your relationship with food.

It’s a different approach to health and wellness and is really about recognizing your body's cues. But because it's not a traditional diet that people are familiar with, many might be skeptical of it.

We're getting to the bottom of some of the myths out there—check out these five intuitive eating misconceptions and the truths behind them.

Myth #1: There is no structure to this method.

Truth: There are fewer restrictions than a traditional diet, but intuitive eating requires what experts call “flexible structure” that provides more of a guide than restrictions. It requires a certain level of control to regulate your eating habits, as a traditional diet structure might.

Myth #2: It’s a diet.

One of the first lessons taught in intuitive eating is getting rid of your “diet mentality.” In dieting, there are strict rules and restrictions to what you can and cannot eat. Intuitive eating 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 eating intuitively.

One of the ten pillars of intuitive eating is about movement. This program encourages finding exercises that you enjoy and are effective for you. Listening to your body’s response to exercise and enjoying activity helps you recognize the benefits of fitness and urges you to disassociate it from weight loss. In other words, exercise because it feels good!

Myth #4: “Eating like a child would” means eating junk foods.

A common adage in intuitive eating is to go back to your roots and eat as a child would. Many people understand this as eating the kinds of junk food that children often do, which is not the case. 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 or not we will honor feelings of hunger and fullness. Intuitive eating means going back to your roots and listening to your body, as a child would.

Myth #5: It’s easier than dieting.

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 is challenging after being in the diet mindset, as it lacks set rules or a clear “prize.” It 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.    

Despite the many myths surrounding intuitive eating, it’s a legitimate 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.

The Women’s Healthy Weight Program at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative offers guidance for intuitive eating through a program with Dr. Sheenagh Bodkin.  Dr. Bodkin explains how intuitive eating can help you "escape the diet rollercoaster."                         

To learn more about intuitive eating or to set up an appointment with the the Women's Healthy Weight Program call 401-793-7817.

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