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Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet That Lets You Eat What You Want

That doughnut is staring right at you as you try your best to pretend it’s not there. You are not listening to the constant banter of all your friends around. The noise is fading as your mind is battling with itself – What harm would one bite do? But is it worth the extra hour at the gym? But don’t you deserve a tiny indulgence? What if that one bite sends your calorie meter into a tizzy?The ‘buts’ and ‘ifs’ go on until you give in, or you don’t. Either way, you’re not happy.

This looming feeling of guilt, dissatisfaction and regret has been fed into us by numerous fad diets, body-image insecurities and an unhealthy obsession with weight loss.

At a time when restrictive, and excessively restrictive diets surround you, a diet that is 100 percent flexible and tells you to listen to your body – comes as a breath of fresh air. But what is it really about and is it recommended?

‘Ditch-The-Diet’

Allow yourself to eat when, what, and how much your body wants.

Intuitive dieting is not new – although it’s popularity is increasing in today’s time and age. It was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. In a blog, the former explains, “It is an evidence-based, mind-body health approach. You honour your health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”Evelyn Tribole”It is a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body. There is nothing to count: this includes no counting of calories, carbs, points or macros.”

She adds, “Ultimately, you are the expert of your body. Only you know what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feels like.”

The philosophy is evidenced by studies that suggest that long-term dieting is not sustainable. A 2013 review in Social and Personality Psychology Compass found that diets may only lead to short-term weight loss. Another paper concluded that dietary restraint is associated with diminished cognitive functioning, body dissatisfaction, overvaluation of weight and shape, and eating disorders.

Tribole and Resch devised ten tenets of intuitive dieting:

  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 and feel the difference
  10. Honor your health

To understand what each of these mean, FIT spoke with Sakshi Kumar, a spiritual healer and Sahiba Bhardwaj, a nutritionist, who together hosted an interactive workshop on intuitive eating in Delhi – to help people break the cycle of chronic eating disorders and heal their relationship with food.

Bhardwaj explained, “It is a non-diet approach where you reject restrictive forms of dieting, pick up natural signals of hunger and satisfaction, and eat according to your body’s requirements. It leaves you completely happy with whatever you’re eating, and there is no room for guilt or regret.”Sakshi Kumar”The heart of the method is to trust your body’s internal hunger. It will give you signs. For instance, when you feel hungry, you should be eating something in the next 5-10 minutes instead of delaying it, and eating more than necessary in the end.”

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