There’s a new buzzword in natural health circles. It’s called “intuitive eating.”
So what is intuitive eating? How can following this simple natural instinct improve your health? Why is this so much better than fad diets?
I’d been doing “intuitive eating” for years. Without knowing there was a name for it. When I heard the term, I knew exactly what it was.
Intuitive eating is now being recognized as a legitimate way to lose weight. This is done by simply being kind to yourself, and following your body’s natural instincts as to when to eat. There’s no counting calories. There’s no food measurement. There are no rules as to what you need to eat on a given day.
You just eat. And enjoy your food.
Intuitive Eating and Meal Planning
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For instance, due to my health problems, I eat real food. (I have chronic nerve inflammation.) So I can’t do intuitive eating like some other people. Intuitive eating in the “strict” sense seems best suited for weight control, rather than for people who really can’t eat certain foods. But there are also ways to adapt, and make it work for you.
For instance, my own food choices are relatively limited. I don’t eat wheat, dairy foods or sugary foods. I also try to avoid GMOs. Studies show that GMOs cause inflammation in animals. But everything else in the real food realm is fair game.
But even given these restrictions I can still eat very well. I’ve learned to appreciate real food, designed as God intended. I never go hungry. And I’m not gaining weight. I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t count calories.
Intuitive Eating Principles
Here’s what I don’t do. I don’t obsess that I’m eating too many calories. Or too few. I don’t worry if I don’t get the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Some days I do. Other days I don’t. Sometimes I eat more than five typical servings.
What I’m doing is what people have done for thousands of years. Eating when they’re hungry. Not eating if they’re not. Not even thinking about the food pyramid, which some holistic health experts believe is upside down anyway.
Part of the intuitive eating principles is to eat what you want. When you feel like it. If you have that big piece of chocolate cake don’t worry about it. Your body will compensate. Maybe you’ll crave a double serving of steamed broccoli the next day.
Intuitive Eating Gentle Nutrition
Everyone is different. So everyone’s intuitive eating plan will be individual. I have chronic nerve inflammation. So I work within my restrictions.
People with diabetes or other health conditions may not be able to just start eating intuitively. Instead, they’d need to work with a health professional, to come up with a sound dietary plan.
Intuitive Eating vs Paleo Diet
But the whole idea of intuitive eating is liberating. For instance, at one point, I was on a Paleo type diet. I stuck to it for months. And I felt terrible.
I had no energy. Actually, I barely even had a life. That’s because food preparation took so much time. If I was going to be away from home for more than a few hours, it was a problem. I didn’t know if I’d find something filling enough to eat that would be “legal.” For me, the best thing I could do was to ditch this extreme diet and start living again.
Intuitive Eating Binge Eating
The idea behind intuitive eating is that you listen to your body. You eat when necessary. You don’t stress about food.
Proponents believe this type of mindset has the potential to help with overeating. There’s even some scientific evidence that it can. One study published in the medical journal Appetite found that subjects “who reported trusting their body to tell them how much to eat had lower odds of utilizing disordered eating behaviors compared to those that did not have this trust.”
Translated, this means that people who follow their gut (no pun intended) instincts were less likely to diet and then binge eat.
A separate study published in Public Health Nutrition concluded that ” research demonstrates substantial and consistent associations between intuitive eating and both lower BMI and better psychological health.”
Intuitive Eating Honor Your Hunger
Intuitive eating is, well, intuitive. You just go with it. When you think about it, intuitive eating makes perfect sense. It’s how people have been eating since the beginning of creation. Lucky for us, we live in an era when it’s possible to easily obtain a wide variety of food, from all over the world.
Unfortunately, though, junk food abounds. While intuitive eating enthusiasts say one of the “rules” is not to stress if you’re putting sugary comfort food in your body, some of us have chronic health problems. (For instance, I will likely feel increased nerve pain.
Intuitive Eating Doesn’t Work for Me
That’s why a one-size fits all approach to anything is never good. Intuitive eating is often recommended for people with eating disorders. Just eating, and not being concerned about quality, calories or nutritional value is liberating.
However, at the same time, some of us are battling illnesses. Eating whatever (considering our current food supply) isn’t the right approach for us. My healing really started when I cleaned up my diet. For me, intuitive eating means not going to extremes. Paleo, keto and raw food would fit that description.
Also, bear in mind that paleo diets appear to be helpful. For the right people. Some people thrive on paleo. Others do not. I fall into the latter category.
I would hope the real beauty of intuitive eating would be its flexibility. Some of us just can’t eat whatever is put in front of us.
Intuitive Eating and GMOs
However, one thing has changed since ancient times. Our food supply is largely processed. In the United States, many types of GMOs. Genetically modified crops have been around for more than 20 years. Despite assurances this practice is perfectly safe, it remains controversial.
Seeds are being designed with foreign genes. These combinations would never appear in nature. For instance, sometimes genetic material from bacterium is combined with a food. This is the case with genetically modified corn.
One of the studies on GMOs is downright alarming. This research was conducted in Caen, France. Laboratory rats were fed a diet that included genetically modified grain. They developed enormous mammary tumors. This was disturbing, to say the least.
However, at the same time, it’s difficult to totally avoid GMOs. This would mean never going to your favorite restaurant. It would make travel extremely challenging. The best I can do is to avoid genetically modified food as much as possible. No stress if I occasionally go to my favorite restaurant. (Guilt-free eating is at the core of intuitive eating.)
Intuitive Eating Experience
No, I don’t need to overdo it in the raw vegetables. Most days I don’t want raw vegetables. Occasionally, though, I crave an over-sized salad. Those are the days I have an oversize salad drizzled in olive oil. Olive oil is something I crave. I figure my body needs this. If I lose my taste for olive oil, chance are my body doesn’t need it.
I’ve noticed that some days I want to eat vegetables. I like them. Other days I don’t. This is when I leave them alone.
One of the more disturbing recent food fads is the one that claims we’re all too acidic. The proposed solution is to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, and raw plant-based foods. However, there’s some evidence that this may be dangerous advice.
Intuitive Eating – What Kind of Eater Are You?
A famous cancer doctor named Emanuel Revici, MD theorized that pushing your body into an alkaline state could potentially lead to cancer. He believed that cancer grew only when someone’s metabolism wasn’t balanced. Swinging to either extreme – to0 acidic or too alkaline – was unhealthy.
Dr. Revici once had a booming cancer practice in New York City. He had a good track record of reversing cancer, by helping patients balance their metabolism. With a health pH level, cancer stopped growing, he insisted.
At my sickest, I did notice that eating too many alkaline foods would ramp up my nerve pain. I also did a urine test, with a home pH test kit. Sure enough, I was way too alkaline. This is one reason I’m interested in Dr. Revici’s work. It also reinforces the idea that I need to listen to my body, and only eat a lot of leafy greens when I feel the urge.
Intuitive Eating Grocery List
The premise of intuitive eating is to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. You are supposed to let your stomach and your taste buds lead the way.
You are supposed to be able to eat without guilt. You’re supposed to enjoy eating. You’re not supposed to think about food in a guilt-free way. If you want a particular comfort food, you have it. This is supposed to stop the diet and then binge cycle. I could see where this would work well for someone with an eating disorder.
Intuitive Eating When You’re Hungry
Some of us, though, are fighting chronic inflammation. There are certain foods that can promote inflammation. These include refined sugar. There’s also evidence GMOs can fire up the inflammatory process. So totally “pure” intuitive eating won’t work for us.
I hope that there’s no purity test for intuitive eating. Because I’d probably flunk it. Still, I think it’s very important to listen to your body. And, in general, to eat the foods you desire at that given point in time. And to sort of “honor your hunger.” Eat when you feel like it. Don’t stress if it’s not exactly three square meals a day.
Intuitive Eating Meal Plans
The beauty of intuitive eating is that there are no meal plans. No strict rules. No fussy diets. No measuring. And, in the “strict” sense, no forbidden or illegal foods.
That’s in theory. In practice, some of us can’t eat certain foods. For some people this would be life threatening, if they have a food allergy (as opposed to a food sensitivity.) But food sensitivity is real, and needs to be respected. There’s probably no such thing as a single food that’s good for everyone.
Intuitive Eating and Wheat Sensitivity
You should also know that modern wheat is a controversial grain. That’s because it bears little resemblance to ancient wheat. Modern strains of wheat contain many times more gluten, compared to wheat grown centuries ago. So this is something to think about. In fact, one doctor named William Davis, MD even believes that modern wheat is bad for everyone.
If that’s the case, this throws a curve ball into the theory of intuitive eating. While I believe following your hunger (and not stressing about food choices) is good, a one-size-fits-all approach may not work for you. We’re all different. There are also serious problems with our food supply. That’s why it’s my personal opinion that you still need to think (without obsessing) about what you’re eating.
Intuitive Eating Grocery List
I will go out on a limb and say that everyone should be eating real food instead of processed food. At least whenever possible. This advice may not go over well with intuitive eating purists. But I need to tell my readers the truth. Most processed food in the United States is filled with genetically modified ingredients. In lab animals, GMOs cause cancer.
It is a little more difficult putting real food meals on the table every night. We’ve largely forgotten how to cook from scratch, with basic materials. Our taste buds are accustomed to processed food. That’s why healthy meal planning services such as Real Plans can be so helpful. If you need help with real food cooking, this might be just what you need, to navigate the learning curve.
Real Plans for Intuitive Eating
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