As the world becomes stuck inside the house because of the ongoing pandemic. It becomes more important than ever to take care of your health. So, how does one do that?
Dieting is one of the ways to ensure that you are keeping yourself in check while you are stuck inside the house. Today, we will be talking about a diet that has the rare distinction of being, well, perfect for everyone. At least on a practical level.
Diets, when one is concentrating on weight loss, tend to involve restrictions. The two diets common in the weight loss circles are 5:2 diet and the ketogenic diet. The 5:2 restricts calories whereas the ketogenic diet goes a step further and completely removes an entire food group.
Research points out that restrictive dieting can lead to a higher body mass index(BMI) over time and also an increased probability of gaining weight once again. On the mental health front, food restriction is also thought to lead to an increase in preoccupation with food, guilt about eating, depression, anxiety, and stress. So, if restricting yourself is not the way to get healthier, what is? Well, recently there is a lot of buzz around the concept of ‘Intuitive eating’.
What Is Intuitive Eating?
Way back in 1995, two authors came up with a philosophy that they chronicled in their book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. This book came as a breath of fresh air especially for the growing number of disordered eaters and chronic eaters. It was even marketed as a recovery book for people struggling with diets.
There are ten essential principles that form the core of the program.
- Reject The Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace With Food
- Challenge The Food Police
- Respect Your Fullness
- Discover The Satisfaction Factor
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise -Feel The Difference
- Honor Your Health
The meaning of this term, as is the case with most wellness-related terminology, varies from person to person and it is not always used in the correct way.
The idea is to listen to your body and allow it to guide you about when and how much to eat. This concept is often interchanged with mindful eating which it is similar to.
Mindful eating is a little more complicated as it also involves paying attention to emotional and physical cues that one experiences while eating. Unlike a lot of other diets, there is absolutely no food that is off-limit. This is because research states that the more you try and stay away from certain foods, the more likely you will binge it later.
The concept is thus simple, but does it have research to support it?
Positive Mental Health Implications
When it comes to weight loss, there are still questions as to if intuitive eating works better than calorie restriction. Certain observational studies do state that people who eat intuitively have a lower BMI than the ones that don’t. But since people who restrict might already have a high BMI, it is difficult to come to a concrete conclusion.
What sets intuitive dieting apart from all other forms of dieting is that the focus of intuitive eating is not to make you lose weight but rather to address unhealthy eating habits. So, even if the weight loss aspect is a little hazy, it is an effective promoter of healthy eating habits.
A recent study also showed that higher levels of intuitive eating are directly linked to lower eating disorder symptoms, calorie counting, and instances of self-weighing. This is in stark contrast with dieting, which has a long association with risk disordered eating, especially for people who have issues with depression and low self-esteem.
So, while more research is needed for figuring out the weight loss benefits, positive effects on mental health and positive eating behavior are pretty obvious.
So, Where Do People Go Wrong?
Practically everywhere. Intuitive eating exists to dismantle dieting behavior and increase wholesome healthier eating habits. So, if you count anything, if you have a cheat day, or standing on the scale over and over again you are not doing it right. Intuitive eating exists beyond the pass-fail framework.
It is about leaning into what your body needs and making the best possible way to provide it.
Intuitive eating isn’t just about eating whatever you want (though, that is a part of the process), it is also about relearning the basic satisfaction and survival instincts of our body. It is about self-empowerment. It is about being in charge of what you are eating and connecting with your body. Instead of asking external factors what is good for you, ask your own body about what feels good. The process is a little difficult, to begin with. But once you understand it, you will automatically feel a lot better.
If you initially feel like you are having a tough time in modulating your appetite to fit the requirements of following a truly intuitive diet then you can try out appetite suppressant supplements. So that you are eventually able to listen to your body to ensure that you what you require and not what you feel the external factors are telling you.