Does Intuitive Eating Work?

We don’t like diets. They are hard to stick to, sometimes unhealthy and often gimmicks that don’t provide long term benefits. The term “intuitive eating” is appealing to us because it sounds healthy. But the sound of a name can be misleading.
 
Intuitive eating is based on a simple idea: eat well and don’t overeat. That, to us, is far easier than a diet. You don’t cut out foods, follow a rigorous diet routine or schedule and you don’t count calories. It’s not actually intended as a weight loss plan, but instead something to help you maintain a healthy weight. However, if you are overweight, it may help you lose weight and won’t make you gain any. Obviously, eating Ho-Hos won’t help you lose weight. But, over time, by picking healthy foods you enjoy and only eating when you are hungry, you can help yourself get to a healthy weight along with exercising. It’s not a diet so much as a philosophy and, in some ways, that appeals to us.
 
Intuitive eating has 10 rules, but they all boil down to relaxing and living your life. “1. Reject the Diet Mentality; 2. Honor Your Hunger; 3. Make Peace With Food; 4. Challenge the Food Police; 5. Respect Your Fullness; 6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor; 7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food; 8. Respect Your Body; 9. Exercise — Feel the Difference; and 10. Honor Your Health.” The rules were set out by two registered dietitian nutritionists, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, both of whom specialize in eating disorders.
 
There is not a single long-term study that shows that weight-loss dieting is sustainable. Study after study shows that dieting and food restriction for the purpose of weight loss leads to more weight gain,” said Ms. Tribole. “Worse — the focus and preoccupation on weight leads to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma, which negatively impacts health.”
 
Eating sensible food when hungry — and not outlawing things — speaks to our style of eating. We appreciate all foods in moderation. We also think it’s great that the plan preaches feeling emotions but not eating because you’re sad, lonely or bored. Even though the guidelines of the plan are simple, it can still be hard to get into because of having to ignore the food police. When the program tells you to eat what’s right to you, our mind instantly says, “and tons of veggies.” We have rules that we just follow. While we wouldn’t start eating sugar in vast quantities, the idea of there being no unhealthy foods doesn’t sit right in our minds.
 
We’ve probably had some of these food rules since we were kids,” said registered dietitian Heather Caplan. “A lot of the work initially is unlearning those rules and challenging them. I always tell people, pick one rule to start with, and stick with that as long as you need to.”
 
Instead of listening to all the outside experts and all these trends and things, it’s about ‘How does my body feel? What does hunger feel like? What is satisfaction? How does it feel to move my body?’” said registered dietician Abby Langer.
 
While we appreciate that, we also believe that doctors and people who know a person’s specific health needs should be consulted before vastly changing your eating habits. Before swapping to intuitive eating, or any other plan, speak to your doctor to learn if it will be healthy for you.
January 22, 2020
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