“Follow your heart, your intuition, it will lead you in the right direction,” the lyrics by pop artist Jewel make it sound so easy to lead with intuition. And yes, in theory it sounds wonderful, but what really would you trust to your intuition. Love? Finances? Career? Eating? The idea of giving your hunger over to intuition is scary, especially for dieters. In the book Intuitive Eating  by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., they encourage readers to stop dieting. In describing the Intuitive Eating process, Tribole stated, “It’s critical for beginners to truly know that diets don’t work. Furthermore, there are compelling studies, which indicate that dieting predicts weight gain (and often binge eating.)” The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to listen to the needs to the body.
You may be thinking, “If I were to listen to the wants of my body, I would have a package of Oreos followed by a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner.” Not true, according to the Intuitive Eating process. A deprived body may crave that, but an Intuitive Eater’s body knows that a grilled skinless chicken breast and fresh veggies will make them feel nourished and energized. They also know they can have a cookie for dessert without feeling guilt, which is enough to satisfy the craving. The basis of the plan: eliminate the good and bad food lists, you can eat anything without guilt! Because dieting leaves the individual longing for that favorite food that was banished to the “bad list”, we tend to overeat in rebellion. Intuitive eaters have no good or bad foods, so they will choose the foods that make them feel nourished and energized while still being able to indulge in that favorite food.
Understanding that there are no good or bad foods is just one part of the Intuitive Eating process. One must also learn to recognize their emotions and learn to deal with them without food. How often do you find yourself eating because you are happy? Or sad? Or bored? Or overwhelmed? We eat for every emotion felt! Now imagine, understanding that you are happy, or sad, or bored, or overwhelmed… not hungry! Then dealing with the emotion without the illusion of hunger disguising it. Sifting through your emotions and understanding them is a key to ending overeating.
Intuitive Eating presents 10 principals in teaching you to become an intuitive eater:
• Principal 1: Reject the Diet Mentality
• Principal 2: Honor Your Hunger
• Principal 3: Make Peace with Food
• Principal 4: Challenge the Food Police
• Principal 5: Feel Your Fullness
• Principal 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
• Principal 7: Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food
• Principal 8: Respect Your Body
• Principal 9: Exercise- Feel the Difference
• Principal 10: Honor Your Health- Gentle Nutrition
As you read the book and learn the principals, you begin to discover that food does not have to hold power over you. You can take back control of your eating habits while becoming an Intuitive Eater!
By Mitzi Dulan and research assistance provided by Kaylee O’Connell .