To snack or not to snack? That is the question of the hour! Popular media is full of nutrition advice, often encouraging wacky diets that cut specific food groups, macronutrients, or favorites. (Like cupcakes, I can’t live without cupcakes!) In this landscape of restrictive eating, I see people struggling with the constant merry-go-round of weight loss, weight gain, loss, gain… I know people not eating for long stretches each day or only eating every other day. The truth is, most of us can lose weight if we’re motivated. But, diets don’t teach us to listen to our bodies, which can lead to weight gain.
Intuitive eating is a lifestyle strategy that encourages mindfulness – listening to your body, rather than telling it what to do. It’s not a radical concept, but it’s one that encourages a healthy relationship with food and the body. By letting go of the diet mindset, rejecting the good food/bad food dichotomy, and allowing ourselves to enjoy food while listening to what we need, we can cast off the media spell that our bodies were all made from the same mold — and live better lives. Here are five of my favorite principles of intuitive eating…
1. Honor your hunger. This is simple: If your body is hungry, nourish it.
2. Respect your fullness. Listen to your body. When it tells you it’s no longer hungry and is comfortably sated, it is appropriate to stop eating. If you’re a fast eater like me, consciously take your time, rest your fork, and listen to what your body is saying.
3. Discover the satisfaction factor. If you truly “allow” yourself to enjoy favorite foods, you will feel more satisfied – likely with less food.
4. Honor your feelings without food. Instead of finding comfort in food when you are sad, stressed, or bored, find other activities that fill emotional needs.
5. Honor your health. Your health is a composite over time, not one snack or meal. Listen to what your body needs, choose foods that nourish, and eat with compassion.
So, what is the answer, should we snack or not? If your body says it needs a snack, then, listen to your biology. When a little hunger kicks in I try to reach for a yummy snack that fuels my busy life, like a pear with peanut butter. Living healthfully feels good, but it feels better off the carousel.
For more information, visit http://www.intuitiveeating.org.
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