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Dietitians Dish: Practice 'Intuitive Eating'

Feb. 1, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 31, 2011 at 8:01 p.m.

Kendra Blaschke

By Kendra D. Blaschke, MS, RD, LD

Most realize that they need to change what they eat to lose weight, but they fail to see that they need to change "how" they eat, also.

A new move is toward Intuitive Eating. This concept focuses on honoring your cravings yet being aware of what goes into your mouth. A leader in the field of Intuitive Eating and fellow dietitian, Evelyn Tribole, has written numerous books and articles on this topic. Evelyn defines Intuitive Eating as "An approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind and body - where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom." The basic principles of intuitive eating focus on paying attention to your hunger and craving cues and making peace with food. We all know that deprivation can lead to overeating and then the undeniable sense of guilt, but by listening to your hunger and satiety cues, you can learn to rebuild your trust with food.

In her book, "Intuitive Eating," Evelyn offers a simple set of guidelines to help overcome our obsession with food, dieting, satiety and even hunger.

Reject the "diet mentality." Diets will help you lose weight in the short-term, but long-term weight loss can only be achieved through relearning how we consume food.

Honor your hunger. Our body needs adequate energy and nutrients to survive. If we deny ourselves of these, it will likely trigger overeating.

Make peace with food. Give yourself permission to enjoy the pleasures of food.

Rid yourself of the "food police" mentality that labels certain foods as "good" or "bad." Replace it with positive self-talk that recognizes there are some foods that should be consumed daily and others that should be saved for a treat.

Get in touch with your body's signals of comfortable fullness. This is one of the hardest changes to make. We all sometimes eat past the point of fullness, for emotional reasons or just because the food tastes so good.

Discover the satisfaction factor. We oftentimes overlook the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. Sometimes, the first two bites of a food are the most satisfying.

Learn how to cope with your feelings without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom and even anger are often dealt with through eating. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse. Try talking with a friend, physical activity or some way to comfort or nurture yourself without food.

Accept your body, and make sure your weight loss expectations are realistic.

Find pleasure in activity. Focus on how good it feels simply to move and be active.

Choose foods that are good for your health and that you enjoy. It's what you eat consistently over time that matters, one meal or one day isn't going to result in a nutritional deficiency or weight gain.

Kendra Blaschke is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a Master's of Science Degree in Nutrition. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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