When I was in college to become a Registered Dietitian, I believed everything was black and white when it came to food. I thought in order to lose weight it was necessary to count calories, exercise daily and use will power to make smart food decisions.
Over the past two years, my mindset has completely changed. One book in particular has stuck with me and it has changed my own relationship with food and my body. This book is called “Intuitive Eating” written by two Registered Dietitians named Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. If you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend it!
I will briefly describe the “Ten Intuitive Eating Principles” Evelyn and Elyse have created:
- “Reject the Diet Mentality:” Diets don’t work long term. Most people can lose weight initially on diets, but after they finish their diet, most people gain back more than they weighed initially. Having a strict list of “good” and “bad” foods can make people feel guilty and can eventually lead to them giving up.
- “Honor Your Hunger:” Listening to your body is the most important thing I have learned from this book. Children are amazing at honoring their hunger. When a child eats half their meal and states they are full, more often than not they are listening to their body. You need to lose the “clean your plate mindset,” eat slowly and listen to your body before grabbing seconds.
- “Make Peace with Food:” Picture this: You are at a birthday party and there is a piece of your favorite red velvet cake just sitting in front of your face. You can already feel yourself salivating, but you tell yourself to have willpower and that you need to stick under a certain number of calories. This will most likely lead to over-eating another food later on. Instead of having this negative relationship with food, grab a small piece of the cake and eat it slowly. Savor the taste of your favorite cake and trust that your body will not immediately gain 5 pounds.
- “Challenge the Food Police:” As a Registered Dietitian, I constantly feel judged for what I eat and how much I eat, but I am human. Ice cream is my weakness. I don’t eat ice cream every day, but I do love to treat myself every once in a while. Do not allow yourself to say you are “good” because you ate a salad for lunch and “bad” because you ate that piece of red velvet cake at the party.
- “Respect Your Fullness” Eating slowly and listening to your body will help ensure you do not overeat at meals. Eat enough to satisfy your body and whatever you don’t finish will make great leftovers for tomorrow!
- “Discover the Satisfaction Factor” Have you ever caught yourself eating a bag of chips in front of the T.V., and looking down only to realize half that bag is gone and you don’t even remember what it tasted like. Instead, make a balanced meal filled with some of your favorite flavors and eat in a relaxing, happy environment where you can focus on eating.
- “Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food” As humans, we have many different emotions that range from happy to sad, anxious to bored. We often turn to food to help “cure” these emotions, even though finishing that entire container of Ben and Jerry’s won’t get you any closer to getting that ex-boyfriend back.
- “Respect Your Body” The more unrealistic and critical you are to your own body will only create feelings of failure when you do not accomplish your unrealistic goals. I weighed around 100 pounds in early middle school and I know I can’t expect to drop back to down to that weight. If I were to drop down to 100 pounds, it is not only unrealistic, but also incredibly unhealthy. Instead of focusing on the scale, find something that makes you feel confident and strong.
- “Exercise-Feel the Difference” It’s no secret exercise is incredibly important in preventing a variety of health conditions. Do you hate running as much as I do? Do not become a runner just to lose weight. If running makes you feel mentally and physically better, than that is a fantastic reason for you to run. Discover something physical that you enjoy doing and can do most days. Some great options to try include walking, yoga, playing intramural sports, lifting weights, and biking. Yoga, hiking, volleyball, and snowboarding are some activities that make me feel mentally and physically healthy.
- “Honor Your Health” Instead of checking the scale daily, listen to your body. If you ate a meal at McDonalds and feel sluggish and tired, learn from that and choose something next time that will give you more energy and won’t upset your stomach. What you consistently eat is much more important than one “good” or “bad” meal you ate.
If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it on Amazon.com. Here is the link to their website if you would like some more information: https://www.intuitiveeating.com/